There is a lot of controversy surrounding cloud technology, especially in the realm of flexible work options. Employers worry about the effect that removing workers from the office has on the individual worker, as well as on the overall business. Being in sales means I talk to people all day long – but it’s rarely face-to-face. While I surely have the occasional client or partner meeting, most of my communication is via phone or email. This provides everyone with the flexibility they want – for all I know they could be taking my call from their office or answering my email from a beach in Mexico. Being disconnected from the personal, face-to-face interactions is something that many people worry about when they’re considering moving their offices into the cloud, or offering flexible work options to their employees – if you don’t know your bosses or coworkers, will you have the same sort of loyalty to your company? And will your clients feel the same sort of kinship to a voice over the phone & an email signature as they do to a face they can recognize walking into their office?
In a lot of ways, it’s too soon to tell what the overall effect moving to the cloud and remote offices will have on inter- and inner-office relationships. There have been studies suggesting that remote workers are happier and more productive than those who commute, and conflicting evidence that they may feel more isolated and unhappy. Speaking purely from my own experience, I feel just as connected to the partners I’ve worked with strictly over the phone and email as I do the partners I’ve met with for lunch meetings. I give the same personal attention to clients who are based to far to meet with in person as those who are just a quick car ride away. I hope that they feel the same about me, but I can’t be sure. For myself, I find that I do my best work when I come into the office and interact with my direct coworkers, but I’m still doing most of my work remotely.
I don’t have an answer to the cloud question. For some businesses and employees, it’s an obvious solution to issues – for others, it’s obviously wrong for them. Every business needs to decide on their own what their path will be. But the flexibility is here, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
By: Scott Wagner