Cloud has a crucial role to play in the move to agile working

By Tony Wills, Country Director, Document Solutions, Canon UK & Ireland.

The dramatic shift to remote working during the pandemic meant that the traditional work environment and infrastructure became inaccessible almost overnight. Processes that were once thought of as simple, such as information and data management, quickly became much more complex as businesses were forced to fundamentally rethink the ways in which they deliver their services.

The need for a hybrid work environment Accenture states that up to 83% of workers identify a hybrid model as being optimal after the pandemic; and new research from the CIPD shows that employers expect the proportion of people regularly working from home to increase from 18% pre-pandemic to 37%. It is increasingly clear that regular office hours will not return in the near future. Instead, many companies are now deciding what the right hybrid working proposition looks like for them and their employees, questioning what level of support they should be offering to maximise collaboration and productivity amongst their workforces.

There is little doubt that the pandemic has raised levels of uncertainty, rendering businesses wary of any long-term commitments. However, many companies have now started to leverage the benefits of agile working. Flexibility is the key requirement of any hybrid work solution, as there is a need to provide support on a variety of different levels, to both fixed and mobile locations. It is this demand for agility and flexibility during the pandemic that has accelerated the move to cloud-based services.

Heightened collaboration and trustful relationships As the BBC reports, work relationships have been heavily impacted throughout the pandemic, so it’s important that businesses invest in tools that enable collaboration and the building of trust between colleagues. Cloud-enabled video conferencing and messaging tools can fulfill part of this need as they allow distributed workforces to easily maintain communication and to develop stronger relationships.

Collaboration can be further boosted by utilising a shared drive, hosted in the cloud. This offers workforces the ability to simultaneously access and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other files. By using these tools in parallel with video conferencing messaging applications, employees can operate efficiently and work in teams no matter where their location.

Agile printing

The cloud doesn’t just play a role in supporting shared documents and video calls. It can also provide the backbone of a dispersed workforce’s printing solution. To enhance collaboration and productivity further, an easy-to-use and reliable printing service that is tablet, smartphone and cloud ready could be made available to support the agile work environment.

Follow me printing uses a cloud-based server, which enables printing to remote shared devices, while all data remains secure and all print jobs traceable. People from outside of the organisation can be restricted from the device, by preventing access to the universal queue, while access can be granted to third parties such as clients where necessary and appropriate. By moving print management to the cloud, companies can ensure consistent control and quality across a varied and distributed workforce.

A secure, complete and long-term solution

Alongside providing flexibility and enabling remote collaboration, it is important that cloud solutions are secure. According to Varonis, remote workers will continue to be targeted by cyber criminals because most companies have unprotected data and poor cybersecurity practices in place. Therefore, businesses should look to implement a cloud-based proposition that combines VPNs, a zero-trust architecture and updated anti-virus and tracking software.

The subscription economy

It is not just the demand for greater flexibility and collaborative tools that has driven the adoption of cloud-based tools; this trend has also been accelerated by a change in procurement models. It is clear that a shift in the subscription economy is becoming a wider industry trend. Scalable models such as Desktop as a Service, defined as a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure hosted in the cloud as a subscription service, are gaining popularity within agile work strategies.

The future of hybrid working

As businesses continue to develop what their future of hybrid working looks like, it is evident that cloud-based IT systems will provide the backbone of this new way of working - being able to support and adapt to ever-changing work environments. If they continue to evolve their cloud strategy, businesses can offer their products and services with confidence and agility, providing better productivity and collaboration, and enabling dispersed employees to reach their full potential.

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