Just three months ago, when it came to remote working, businesses were all at different stages of take-up – from totally virtual capabilities through to very limited or even no home working options.

Fast forward to today and organisations are frantically transitioning their entire teams to remote working; those who already had a remote working strategy in place have been able to adapt to a CV19 world quicker, and with minimal disruption to their teams and customers. It’s about working swiftly to ensure whole teams have a device for home working and that laptops are set up with the right software, security and permissions, VPN structures are enabled and robust enough to handle multiple users at any given time. Infrastructure, back-ups, upgrades, and data security all suddenly needed to be deployed – and fast.

This means that cloud technology is coming into its own like never before. Here’s why it’s set to be critical to business outcomes as this current crisis unfolds.

Enabling collaboration

Whole organisations are working remotely for the foreseeable future. As the situation develops and we look to return to a new normal, ensuring teams can function effectively and are on track to meet project goals, will be essential. Cloud platforms such as Zoom and Teams increase collaboration and help to boost productivity and, with global organisations operating across multiple time zones, cloud enabled platforms support additional connectivity.

It’s crucial to bear in mind that the collaboration tools your teams are using are supported and covered by security controls. Some apps may not be appropriate for the remote working environment, for instance those that involve high levels of data moving back and forth.

Cloud hosting supports better workflow management

There’s a learning curve at play for many teams right now. This brings its own layer of pressure. With the workflow management capability offered by cloud applications, concerns such as version control become more manageable especially for teams who aren’t necessarily used to remote working over longer periods of time. It closes the margin for error which, given the high levels of anxiety some team members are running with, is simply one less thing to worry about. What’s more, it enables retrieving lost data and adds that peace of mind. Providers need to boost their back up service, so if anything goes wrong, you can rewind, restore and investigate safely.  As well as ensuring that all users benefit from the latest software and security patches, this takes the burden off IT and means there’s no downtime for your employee.

You may want your IT team to look at ‘least privilege’ access too. For bigger organisations, not everyone needs access to every component or asset. Keep things lean by limiting permissions so that everyone has what they need to do their jobs. It’s always easier to grant permissions after a user has been verified than to take away access after a potential compromise.

Increased security for both your business and your team

Cloud deployments provide a more secure platform for data, files and shared projects. For your team, this means enhanced data management and improved access when working on multiple projects.

The cloud provides that strong layer of security for data accessed remotely as cloud suppliers will build basic controls into their services, and typically offer additional security options, as well as a high level of support. Cloud-based apps and data are accessed through a remote virtualised desktop environment that exists centrally within the provider’s infrastructure, which means no data is shared with the employee’s device or laptop.

Be mindful of communication squeezes

As the global remote working population reaches unprecedented levels, organisations will have to reassess network and application design – the demand levels will also lead to crunch points. Both network and cloud architecture needs to be efficiently managed to avoid impacting performance – especially in these overloaded times. One solution is to manage blocks of online time for different teams to ease any infrastructure pressures and avoid increasing the load on IT.

Keep it people-first

Now more than ever, tech leaders need to own a people-first strategy. Your own team will be feeling the pressure as well as their own anxiety around the wider issue. There’s also a chance some of the team may be unwell or need to self-isolate, which is why it’s essential to have the tech in place to build and sustain relationships. Using videoconferencing and collaboration tools will help teams to connect on a human level, giving them that much needed connection and wellbeing check-in. 

Cloud is at the heart of all effective remote working strategies, helping you to foster an agile, cohesive and productive workforce in these unsettling times. Ultimately, it enhances employee experience too and helps build team collaboration, confidence and trust. The question to consider is, once we’ve seen what’s possible in this new normal, what happens in the longer term?  

When this passes, our people will still in thrive from in-person contact – technology is years away from giving a truly authentic experience of this. While the future of the workspace will have been transformed by Covid-19, and business’ flexible and remote working strategies accelerated, not even the cloud will replace human connection.

Ed Butler is CEO at Amito

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