While the office has traditionally been a place where employees feel the most productive, digital tools like Cloud technology can support a healthier work-life balance and increase productivity, regardless of location. Organizations have found that this kind of flexibility brings business value – employee satisfaction increases, productivity improves, and teams are able to collaborate more effectively.

Because of developments in cloud technology, organizations feel more confident in supporting a workforce that favors hybrid work environments. A 2020 study of 1,000 US employees reported that 55% of employees expect their companies to support hybrid work, with 67% of organizations understanding and meeting those expectations. Employees enjoy the flexibility hybrid work provides, whether they find value in engaging with their colleagues face-to-face a few times per week or being able to choose the distraction-free environment that works best for them.

In this blog, we’ll cover how small businesses and enterprises alike have evolved to support their employees’ wishes for hybrid work and transcended the modern office. By capitalizing on tools to attract higher-quality talent, make more agile decisions, and improve employee satisfaction, businesses unlock more value through the adoption of cloud technologies.

The evolution of the modern employee’s needs

In the age of cloud, it’s easier than ever to reap the benefits of remote work

With the advent of the world wide web in the 1980s, a centralized place to access the internet was a necessity for many employees, so many of them heavily depended on the office. Today, 84% of US and 91% of European households have broadband internet access, and Wi-Fi is available in many public spaces, making the need to go into an office to access private servers a thing of the past. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that employees want to engage solely from home, it means that the traditional cubical-lined space is not a must-have for many offices today, as employees can access secure information and collaborate with their teams from any location with Wi-Fi access.

Our point here is that the office is not dead. Rather, it has transformed from rows of cubicles designed to organize wires and house static hardware into a livable space that promotes organic, human engagements all enabled by advancements in the cloud.

Let’s take a look at how Atlassian’s Austin, TX office adapted to these changing needs. The space is designed to promote organic collaboration between employees by providing multiple floors of nestled desks, conference rooms that can be booked via a simple touchpad, lounges, and bonus amenities (think snack bars, workout rooms, and even a nursery to support our employees with children). These amenities are possible only because cloud provides the tools to succeed via mobile laptop, and has helped us retire the cubicle and afforded us the physical space to innovate what our office can offer.

Because people still want to engage with one another, hybrid work has become a commodity that many employees covet during their job search. These prospects gravitate toward organizations that offer this level of flexibility of work-life balance over a role that might have higher pay but would require employees to commute to the office every day. As much as the internet – and subsequently, cloud solutions – have globalized the workforce and allowed companies to attract top talent, in return, that talent also has the luxury of being much more selective about which organization they invest their time in.

3 ways cloud features can support businesses with a hybrid workforce

How to build a hybrid work culture that will last

1. Identifying key efficiencies and making them repeatable

The traditional ideology around office work led to managers micromanaging their employees with an eyes-on-you approach that often led to a level of faux-busyness in an attempt to portray status or value to the company. Researchers at Columbia University Business School conducted a series of experiments to gauge the effectiveness of “looking busy” in the workplace and found a direct correlation linking perceived busyness to higher social status, regardless of the deliverables produced. Cloud features that enable better visibility and collaboration have turned this reality on its head by providing the tools for organizations to operate as a meritocracy. In short, this transparency allows managers and admins to identify the most efficient teams within their business and emulate their factors of success company-wide. Easier identification of what works, and subsequently what doesn’t, leads to a more organically productive workforce as it becomes easier to identify the most impactful strategies.

Access to a greater application pool on the cloud allows employees to work more effectively and inspires innovation as ideas flow more freely across teams as well. Smarter collaboration powered by machine learning, analytics, and seamless integrations allows leaders to identify their best strategies and empower their teams more easily, breaking down silos and keeping the focus on the work being done, not on perceived “busyness”.

2. Finding business value in better employee benefits

Hybrid models and the availability of virtually accessible workspaces expands the reach of an organization’s candidate pool well beyond the dozen or so miles an employee would be willing to commute into a metropolitan area on a daily basis. By lightening the travel load and reducing time spent in-office, organizations are able to reward their employees with a healthier work-life balance while expanding their reach while hiring. This reach manifests in a couple of ways: companies who expand their workforce –globally or regionally – are “always-on,” increasing productivity while providing 24/7 support. And they can put together the best teams for the job regardless of geographical location.

The acceptance of hybrid work is a welcome symbiosis between employer and employee. Employees are given the freedom to work in an environment that best suits their changing needs while still enjoying access to company facilities where they can engage with team members face-to-face. Meanwhile, employers are rewarded with a larger application pool of candidates and collaborative tools which lead to more efficient workflows, all while being able to repurpose office space that would otherwise house outdated systems.

3. Cloud supports cyber resiliency for hybrid work

With more employees splitting time between working at home and the office, and many employees reporting in from fully remote locations, protecting an organization’s data is at the top of the priority list. The good news is, cloud security meets or surpasses on-premises expectations, so companies don’t have to worry that supporting a hybrid workforce on cloud means compromising security standards. The system irons out access governance, ensuring that users are only provisioned with access to the data that is relevant to their role.

A real-world example of this would be an admin having the power to remove systems access from a contractor or employee who has left the company before their laptop has been officially turned in, protecting company data. This means that admins have more control over what their users can gain access to while ensuring all relevant files are accessible to those with the right credentials, anywhere in the world. In short, organizations keeping up with industry best practices gain ability for their workforce to operate globally from a laptop as a mutually beneficial byproduct of investments in cloud security.

The future of work is here – are you tapped in?

In the 1980s, when the internet was introduced, companies sank or swam depending on how quickly they adopted this new technology. Of course, many would remain hesitant, arguing that “if the current system isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” But a system doesn’t need to be broken in order to be improved upon. Today, we’re witnessing another big shift in how employees work. Improvements to cloud security, increased data storage, and the availability of virtual private networks (VPNs) means that employees can engage with their teams, participate in meetings, access or update documents, and remain productive anywhere they can connect to a Wi-Fi network – not just in an office.

To learn more about digital transformation, including tips and mindsets to support a successful journey, read our guide to digital transformation.

How cloud has transformed the state of hybrid work