5 ways the cloud has already reshaped your office

For starters, you can spend less time commuting and more time communicating

(Image credit: iStock)

1. You spend less time commuting

People are working outside of the office in record numbers. Cloud-based platforms make telecommuting, or working from home, a reality. As a result, working remotely has become more and more prominent over the last decade. A Gallup survey of over 15,000 adults revealed that 43 percent of Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely. That percentage has steadily increased since 2012. A June study from Global Workplace Analytics found that "50 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25 percent of the workforce teleworks at some frequency."

The cloud is at least partially responsible for this shift. It allows documents to be edited on the go, and files to be shared between devices. Workers are no longer bound to their on-site desktop computers.

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And you don't need to be a freelance writer or coder to work from home. In 2016, for example, 48 percent of finance, insurance, and real estate workers reported working remotely some of the time, according to a Gallup poll. That number expanded rapidly from 39 percent in 2012.

2. You spend more time communicating

Applications that operate on the cloud increase communication between workers, allowing multiple people to contribute to the same project at once. This development has changed the office environment from an individualistic one to a collaborative one. The cloud enables projects to be molded in real time by a group rather than an individual, which can decrease margin of error and increase ingenuity. However, it also means that one worker ends up splitting his or her focus between multiple projects at once.

3. Your hours are more flexible

Telecommuting allows workers more flexibility in their schedules. You no longer have to necessarily schedule your home life around a 9-to-5 work schedule. Instead, you and your employer set work hours that shift around based on your home life. This may have some big-picture effects like narrowing the gender gap, by allowing workers to balance the needs of work and child care. Seventy percent of working mothers said that having a flexible work schedule is important, according to a 2013 Pew Research survey. Flexibility reduces work restrictions that some women and men feel when caring for a young child. And often, it's cloud platforms that allow workers to create flexibility and work on the go. In the long run, this increases job retention rates, which in turn, increases the desirability of women for more influential positions.

4. You can use your own computer for work

Data is more secure than ever on the cloud. A computer used to be similar to a safe, because all of your data was stored internally on the hard drive. This made work computers essential and office security mandatory. It wasn't safe to bring a work computer home, because damaging or losing that computer could result in a loss of proprietary information. The cloud changed the game. The computer is now less like a safe, and more like a key needed to access data. This means that companies no longer fear data breaches caused by remote work.

5. Your office is less cluttered with servers

On-site infrastructure, like bulky servers, have become largely unnecessary. Instead, companies and entrepreneurs contract out for IT solutions, buying storage on cloud servers of other companies. Amazon and Google offer IT solutions, but hundreds of other small companies also offer off-site storage. That storage can be increased or decreased at the will of the business. This means that your company might not even have an on-site IT department anymore. That can be beneficial, depending on the company. The cloud has eliminated some hefty start-up costs for businesses that need a lot of data storage. However, you might not have an IT department downstairs to help with troubleshooting.

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