Following the recent updates from the UK government, many of us are now uncertain on when we will be able to return to our offices and work will continue as normal. This being said, remote working has gradually become the new normal, as we have steadily adapted to the working environment that we suddenly found ourselves in.

Within the past fews months, since lockdown began, remote workers have found their flow with this dramatic change and cloud solutions have been there every step of the way to ease this rather tricky process. Businesses are realising the answer to the question that has been asked many times before; would productivity suffer if employees worked from home? And the answer, for many, is no.

Thousands of us are waking up to the benefits of working from home and this change has created a new question to consider –  could remote working be the new normal?

The rise of remote working

Even before lockdown began, in 2019 over 1.5 million people worked from home in the UK, a 50% rise from 2009. Around 79% of businesses in the telecoms industry use cloud computing; and in the energy sector, as many as 87% are cloud users. This adoption has been fuelled by various technologies such as cloud solutions and collaborative platforms which are making the traditional working model obsolete.

Twitter is one of the recent examples of a company that is embracing working from home, allowing its employees to work remotely ‘forever’. This announcement follows many others, including the likes of Facebook and Google, which are also extending their work-from-home policy into 2021. Not only are the tech giants encouraging remote working using cloud technology, smaller businesses are also embracing working from home practices too as a result of low-cost cloud solutions. This new level of flexibility has the aim to safeguard workers and reduce the spread of the virus, and employers are able to enforce this seamlessly thanks to the benefits offered by remote working platforms.

It’s not just the short commute from one’s bed to their home office that employees can take advantage of. Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, staff are reporting greater levels of productivity and job satisfaction. Looking towards the long term, remote working offers a number of economic benefits for a business. With less people in a physical working space, overhead costs can be reduced in many aspects from office rent, to staff equipment.

Challenges of remote working

However, there are several aspects that could make bosses hesitant to implement a mass-scale remote working approach within their organisation. If not addressed properly, we may see our previously normality resume, and working from home could become a thing of the past.

Despite being more productive when working remotely, other studies suggest that those working from home can feel a lower sense of community, less social interaction and reduced informal collaboration. Combined, these factors can make employees more willing to return to the office, thus affecting the future of remote working.

With the requirement to work from home happening so suddenly, many organisations failed to sufficiently plan for the effect this could have on their security procedures. Data security has always been a sensitive topic and almost overnight, many of us were now using private end devices such as laptop, tablet and smartphone to complete our activities which were not protected by the corporate network. Around 39% of companies fear unauthorised access to confidential company data and 29% have uncertainties regarding the legal situation. Not to mention, employees no longer have the benefit of having on-site IT professionals to monitor traffic and keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Furthermore, many can be put off just by the concept of implementing a remote working solution across their entire business. Technology is woven into many aspects of our work, and it can often be tricky to find workers with the skills to navigate around various software and systems, and so adding another to the mix can be daunting. Learning how to use a new platform for existing employees can also hinder productivity, especially for the more complex solutions.

Overcoming obstacles of remote working with the cloud

When the time comes that workers can return to their offices, it will be common practice for many to now have a choice of either work from the office, or at home. But in order for this to be a possibility, organisations must first implement a suitable solution in which employees can easily access their applications no matter where they are, without faulting a workforce’s productivity.

There is an array of cloud-based solutions which can offer businesses the ability to enable employees to work from home, both productively and securely. The combination of software, platform and infrastructure as a service, otherwise known as Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS), creates a seamless process for employees as they can access any on-premise and cloud environments behind a single web portal.

Security is one of the greatest obstacles that businesses face when implementing a remote working solution. To address any potential security concerns, there are a number of factors that decision-makers need to consider. To secure files and keep important documents safe, solutions can restrict access to certain data. If there is no authorisation, no files can be downloaded from the app server. Furthermore, the cloud can offer multi-stage authentication which determines the unique identity of the user.

The latest streaming technology enables businesses to easily, quickly and securely provide applications to employees in the home office without VPN connections or client installation. This works for any size company and any application environment, meaning a new solution can get up and running in no time. Employees can easily pick up this new platform and continue their work as normal.

With global sales for cloud computing expected to increase to $331 billion in 2022, vendors need to make sure the solution they are providing to users now doesn’t affect their performance. In this future of working, it will be crucial for staff to have the same ease as they would have in the office, in their own homes, to ensure productivity is not affected. A recent report from Gartner suggested that 74% of CFOs are now planning to shift some of their staff to remote working permanently, and it is up to vendors and cloud service providers to facilitate this change can encourage this new era of working which we could soon be in.