Industry leaders and public health officials alike are tasked with answering the question on everyone’s mind: when can we return to normal? The answer: We never will – as life and business always evolve to embrace new norms.
Covid-19 has forever altered the way we work. However, it’s not all bad news. At Nintex, we refer to this new era of work as ‘cloud working’. Despite many fears surrounding this method of working, it is actually increasing staff productivity and efficiency across our enterprise and those of our customers working in sectors such as government, banking, healthcare and manufacturing, when compared with traditional office-based operations.
In this new era of cloud working, automated workflows and digital business processes aren’t just a nice extra, they are essential to the new way of working remotely. Leaders committed to a brighter future should quickly transform all manual or paper-based processes into digital ones that enable staff to continue conducting business from anywhere. That is the new focus and ‘litmus test’ for whether a business is digitally ready for the future.
For over a decade now, budget and staffing challenges that were ripple effects from the last recession have driven IT and business to embrace cloud computing. Now it’s time to embrace cloud working or be left behind.
But why is cloud working a better business model? Leveraging digital business and process automation platforms marks a natural evolution in the way we work. We’ve already seen similar changes in the e-commerce sector where, for years, prospects and customers have demanded continually better digital experiences and support.
Now workers are expecting similar service experiences from their employers. There is no question that this is feasible, but failing leaders will hold onto old ways of doing business in expensive office spaces with manual process workarounds attached to legacy systems. Embracing change, brought by the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, will ensure organisations and their employees remain resilient, adaptable and equipped for the next unexpected business disruption, which they will be able to handle more easily because they are digitally prepared.
Cloud working improves the professional environment for many reasons. For example, digital platforms make processes more efficient. According to a 2019 study by Australian outsourcing company Airtasker, remote working actually increases productivity for many employees, as it enables them to save money and time on commutes, improve their physical and mental health, and actually work more days throughout the year. Even executives who originally had doubts about remote work are beginning to see the value of easy-to-use digital collaboration tools to effectively check in with staff and join meetings.
Supporting remote workers with cloud-based systems also significantly reduces operational costs. Real estate and travel costs are historically some of the largest expense areas for many enterprises, so the more that organisations cut back on physical office space and travel, the more they save by leveraging digital know-how that provides better employee and customer experiences. Human resources departments are also more interested in quality employees than physical workspaces and flexible working environments can attract that great talent, as well as providing a wider pool of potential applicants. Even before the pandemic in late 2019, real estate company WeWork was struggling to create a sustainable business by selling physical workspace – an early indication of the shift that has been heightened by Covid-19.
In addition to the reduced costs and increase in efficiency, cloud working also provides staff with digital empowerment and flexibility. Many employees express how much they enjoy the new-found work/life balance provided by digitally supported cloud working. Now that they are proving their value remotely, many don’t want to go back to putting in office ‘face time’ every day, regardless of the true value and need for their physical presence. Without lengthy commutes, employees have more time to dedicate to high-value strategic tasks and their own professional development. This style of working also gives employees the chance to dedicate specific times to projects when they know that they will be the most productive, all the while fulfilling other duties and family commitments.
With all this in mind, business leaders should review and prioritise their digital transformation imperatives today as Covid-19 is much more than a temporary inconvenience, it’s a wake-up call to drive digital innovation and quickly adapt to the new normal. Those who neglect to do this risk being left behind by competitors who could ultimately target your employees and customers by better digitally supporting them.
Cloud working is here to stay.
Dustin Grosse is the chief marketing and strategy officer at Nintex
This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
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