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In biochemistry, an enzyme is a catalyst that speeds up a chemical reaction. Without it, the reaction would continue but at a dramatically slower pace. Pre-COVID-19, many companies slowly began shifting at least part of their workforce to remote positions. That reaction accelerated five years the moment SARs-CoV-2 appeared and instituted worldwide lockdowns. Almost overnight, companies spanning the globe raced to make work from home (WFH) the new way of conducting business. Meetings were held over Zoom, communications were conducted via instant messenger, and files were shared through Dropbox, Hightail, and other Saas applications.
As economies reopen in the wake of the pandemic, remote work will remain a permanent fixture. It is estimated that 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month by 2025. Twitter and Ford have already announced that they will give employees the option to work from home permanently, and Citigroup recently announced plans for hybrid work.
With WFH no longer an experiment but a new reality, how are CEOs addressing this new model, and what are they doing to adapt their employees? Could the cloud be the answer to support this? The answer is a resounding yes. By taking enterprise data to the cloud — specifically, hybrid cloud — corporate executives can speed up productivity, enhance employee work-life balance, and realize generous cost savings.
Promotes seamless collaboration and flexibility
The beauty of the cloud is that no matter where in the world they are scattered, employees can easily and securely access files, work simultaneously on projects and documents, and share content with co-workers and clients.
Many have experienced the chaos of keeping track of different versions of the same document through copious email chains. Various people end up working on the wrong versions of the document and duplicating work. The result is frustration among all parties and missed deadlines. By keeping files centralized in one place, employees from Sydney to London can access a consistently updated version of the document and work on it together in real time.
Because the cloud supports collaboration, it also provides an ideal haven for brainstorming. A person can start an ideation document on Google Docs, and team members, no matter where located, can contribute thoughts throughout the day. Not only does this aid in developing creative solutions, but it ensures no one is left out and gives everyone an equal opportunity to contribute opinions.
Finally, the cloud releases employees from the typical 9-to-5 schedule and gives them greater autonomy over their day-to-day. An employee in New York, for example, can begin a project in the early evening and hand it off to her counterpart in Los Angeles to finish it off. This way of working improves work-life balance, which is a great selling point for companies competing for top talent.
Meets compliance regulations
Companies with an international footprint must contend with a plethora of different data repositories in this digital age. For instance, in the European Union, firms found to violate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — which protects EU citizen privacy and information — can see hefty fines up to 4 percent of the firm’s worldwide annual revenue. Similar mandates have come into effect in California with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Add to the mix industry-specific regulations like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in healthcare and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in commerce, and it becomes clear that data protection should be a top priority for any organization operating domestically and abroad.
Businesses must also wrestle with the never-ending creation of silos that make compliance difficult. Every time data is backed up or replicated, a new silo is born. Companies must track every iteration of stored data carefully. The problem is further compounded when it comes to the data storage; it may have to obey country-specific data sovereignty laws.
Deploying a hybrid cloud that incorporates both private and public cloud infrastructures offers an ideal solution to easily comply with the local laws.
Having employees working from home frees companies from brick and mortar overhead, including rent, electricity, desks, desktop computers, data warehouses, and server rooms. It also absolves them from costly repairs, upgrades, and replacement of depreciating equipment and — by tiering and retiring inactive data and applications — helps companies save on expensive licenses.
Less equipment to purchase means less in-house IT personnel required to maintain it. This not only reduces labor costs but also translates into increased productivity. Spared from the tedious chores of extracting and preparing data for analysis, analysts can generate meaningful reports faster for executives working on a deadline.
Notably, adopting a mix of public and private clouds means less dependency on any single cloud provider for across-the-board company needs. Companies can instead pick and choose tailored offerings from different providers, eliminating the unwanted bells and whistles — and accompanying price tags — that often come with service packages from a single vendor.
With the big players already adapting to a post-pandemic future and 90% of global companies expecting to adopt a hybrid cloud by 2022, implementing WFH will be easy for enterprises. The good news is that everyone wins in the WFH reality. Companies save money in the long run. Employees can live anywhere in the world and dictate their own schedules, enjoying a better quality of life. COVID-19 brought the future to the present and CEOs of companies large and small must digitize their workforce to compete and stay relevant. The cloud is the variable that can bring this reality to fruition.
Sai Gundavelli is CEO and Founder of Solix Technologies.
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