2020 is the Year We Transformed the Way We Work

It’s common these days to hear talk about “when things return to normal.” However, for information workers in the U.S., it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we will ever fully return to the way we worked pre-COVID-19.

A majority of workers, especially those in the technology sector, have been working remotely for six months or more. And most of us aren’t too eager to go back to putting in “face time” at the office — especially if we feel safer and more productive working from home. In fact, an IBM study found that more than half (54%) of employees would prefer to continue working remotely most of the time after the pandemic eases.

This shift to “cloud working” was likely inevitable in the long run. Consumers already demand streamlined digital experiences from brands, so it’s a natural evolution for workers to start demanding the same from employers. If your organization wants to compete for top talent today, consider adjusting your organizational policies and HR processes to include flexible work arrangements for employees, as well as great digital experiences and automated processes.

For us, cloud working has driven further organizational-wide efficiencies while keeping our corporate culture intact and our employee satisfaction high. And we’re not alone in seeing positive results from this year’s remote work experiment. Others in the tech sector, including Twitter and Facebook, have unrolled plans to have at least part of their workforce work outside the office permanently. For these enterprises, the last decade’s focus on cloud computing has set the stage for the era of cloud working to begin in earnest.

Cloud working is here to stay and it’s a good thing.

Three reasons to embrace cloud working

Change is hard and it is not uncommon for business leaders to embrace a familiar work environment. This may include physical office spaces and legacy solutions that require manual or paper-based process workarounds. Here are three reasons to make the leap from old ways of working to embrace cloud working:

1. It makes employees more productive.

Big tech companies wouldn’t allow their employees to go remote if being out of the office had made it harder for them to get work done. In fact, research has long pointed to the opposite. A 2013 study found that working from home made employees of a travel company 13% more productive. Anecdotally, companies that have transitioned to cloud working during the COVID-19 pandemic have experienced similar upticks in productivity

There are a few reasons for this increase. For one, it’s mentally easier to “stay late at work” when there’s no commute to sit through afterward. In addition, the authors of the 2013 study found that with more flexibility to take care of mental and physical health concerns, employees who worked remotely took fewer sick days. In other words, if productivity is a concern, your company should be encouraging cloud working, not discouraging it.

2. It empowers employees.

Cloud working isn’t just good for getting work done — it supports employees’ well-being. Not having to commute saves people time and money, freeing up hours to dive deep on strategic tasks or pursue professional development. Remote work also tends to be more flexible, helping employees balance work with family and other commitments. That flexibility also enables employees to work on projects when they know they will be able to focus and get the most work done, often increasing efficiency.

3. It decreases operational costs.

Adopting digital business processes leads to cost savings, but a full shift to remote work multiplies the cost advantage. Real estate and travel are major cost centers for most enterprises — and when physical presence in an office isn’t necessary, these costs are significantly reduced and/or eliminated.

Cloud working also provides opportunities for your HR team. It widens the pool of potential applicants for a given position, since geography limitations disappear, and it makes it easier to retain top talent that values flexibility. These changes can make it possible to achieve additional efficiencies.

Embrace the new way of working

2020 will be remembered for many things. On a positive note, it will be the year we truly transformed the way we work, whether your organization had existing digital and automated experiences or this was the year you digitally transformed your business. We’re all learning this new way of cloud working and the results indicate that we’re onto a good thing.

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Kristin Treat is vice president, corporate marketing at Nintex.