By Abheek Dutta
Reduced real estate expenditures, opportunity to hire and use talent from any part of the globe without immigration issues, geographic flexibility, elimination of commutes and improved work-life balance — these are some of the notable benefits that are making business leaders across the world think that WFH (work from home) or WFA (work from anywhere) culture is here to stay. In fact, it might turn out to even be a smart choice in the post-pandemic era.
The pandemic forced business leaders to rethink office arrangements and brought about a massive shift — from a conventional office set up to a virtual workspace. This has raised serious questions about what the working world will look like moving forward.
The switch from conventional working environments to remote working couldn’t have come about easily, though, without the aid of an agile computing network like the cloud that emerged as a savior for organizations all over the globe. Some of the needs that cloud-based services fulfilled included providing virtual desktop access to employees and offering collaboration capabilities, enabling remote working without unexpected interruptions.
Today, WFH is not just a limited option. In fact, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates (co-founder, Microsoft and Melinda Gates Foundation) hopes that ‘Work-from-Home’ culture will continue even after the pandemic is over.
According to Remote Working in South Africa 2020, a study conducted among 400 enterprises by World Wide Worx for Cisco, the WFH or WFA model led to improved growth and productivity for 29 percent of organizations. For the companies that had commenced digital transformation even before the pandemic, the figure was a whopping 70 percent.
Related: Is Working From Home Here to Stay?
Even after the pandemic, several top-notch business leaders have already revealed that they will let much of their staff work from home permanently.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has said that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S., as many as 50 percent of Facebook employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. Along similar lines, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly emailed his employees and told them that they’d be allowed to work from home permanently, even after the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has passed.
As a result, it has become the responsibility of every organization to be able to provide a seamless remote working environment to their employees. In fact, for the remote workforce to be truly independent, a robust digital infrastructure and a strong network are the pre-requisites that every business leader must fulfill.
This is the reason why the investments in cloud digital architecture are growing throughout the world. According to a report from Nutanix Inc, a leader in private cloud services, 63 percent of India’s businesses escalated investments in hybrid cloud to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
Additionally, during the April 2020 lockdown, India's second largest software exporter, InfosysLtd., doubled its investment in the cloud and even launched Cobalt — a compilation of services, solutions and digital platforms aimed at helping the clients build cloud-first capabilities.
Considering that most businesses all over the world had very little time to adjust to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, it’s actually an achievement that a lot of them managed to do quite well. They have the cloud to thank.
Addressing the challenges
Despite a plethora of benefits, WFH culture may impose some challenges in the future. For example, the traditional office —with its conference rooms, canteens, break areas, etc.— offers plenty of opportunities for both formal and informal interaction for employees, leading to both personal and professional growth. There are going to be some genuine hurdles to cross to make permanent remote working not only technically feasible, but also to make it successful in the future. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to remarkable innovations in all spheres, so with time and focused efforts, these challenges can be addressed and conquered.
As a professional in this field, I feel that the objective of companies providing cloud services should be to empower businesses with more flexibility in making choices, while also ensuring that cyber security remains a priority. Making a switch to cloud services remains the future for many companies. Those who emerge as the winners of this era shall be the ones who make this change promptly.