The greatest benefits of technological advancements are that they make our lives easier and save us time. In 1930, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that we would eventually only need to work 15 hours a week as a result of technology. That same year, evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley predicted the two-day workweek would become the norm. Boy, were they wrong.
The 40-hour, five-day workweek started in the U.S. in 1938 as a job creation effort after the Great Depression and has remained the standard for more than 75 years. Despite the reported gains in productivity that a significantly shorter workweek provide, there has been a slow progression in changing employer’s views on job flexibility and schedules until recently. A big influence in this movement has been the adoption of cloud technology.
Flexible scheduling in particular has been on the rise in all sectors. Many tech companies — like Amazon, Facebook, and Google — were the catapult for this movement, offering employees more flexible schedules and setting themselves apart in order to attract and retain top talent.
Companies are slowly progressing towards this concept by opting for a 4-day workweek or compressed workweek. Software CEO Jason Fried reported in the New York Times that the 32-hour, four-day workweek his company follows from May through October has resulted in an increase in productivity.
And while many employers may not be ready to cut hours or shorten workweeks, they are steadily embracing the flexibility aspect thanks to cloud technology. Remote workers and telecommuting continues to rise, becoming a more viable option for businesses to stay competitive and offer their employees more of a work-life balance.
Here are some of the key cloud advancements making it easy for companies to provide the perk that everyone is after: flexibility.
Cloud-based Phone Systems
The shift from premises-based phone systems to cloud-based systems has been a game-changer for businesses, not just for enabling more remote workers, but also for the mobilization of entire organizations. An increasingly more common requirement for businesses are systems that offer unlimited mobility and the integration of all sites. This way, employees can make and receive calls and faxes, check voicemail, access their contacts, view call history and re-route calls securely from anywhere, on any device they choose. This increasingly more prevalent necessity for mobile freedom and increased security is one that only 100 percent cloud-based systems are able to fully suffice.
Hosted Virtual Desktops
Hosted Virtual Desktops provide employees with anywhere, anytime access to their apps and data which are stored securely in the cloud. This has freed many employees from being tied to their physical machines in the office. By providing access to your entire digital workspace – not just documents or apps – from multiple devices, a new level of productivity and greater opportunities for workplace flexibility have become possible.
Meetings have evolved significantly as workforces continue to be more distributed. Video conferencing platforms have been instrumental in providing that anytime, anywhere availability for face-to-face meetings and conferences. Advanced high-definition video, audio and web conferencing platforms now even include the ability to share documents or your entire screen for more interactive collaboration amongst teams. Businesses are using this as their go-to method for all meetings, giving employees the ability to meet from anywhere they need and stay fully connected.
Customer Relationship Management
Salesforce® is the leading cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application and has had a huge impact on remote workers, allowing them to connect with and keep track of the type of contact they make with customers. It’s a seamless application that ensures that everyone in the organization has instant access to all the critical information they need at all times, empowering employees to work more efficiently from anywhere they are.
Sharing large files has become easy thanks to cloud services like DropBox. DropBox offers a team application that is specifically designed to share documents within a specific group. No matter where an employee is, transferring files through the cloud is as simple as dragging and dropping files into a shared folder – just as one does with a network folder system in a physical office.
While we can all hope that shorter workweeks and less hours will someday become a reality for the U.S., in the meantime, we can take advantage of the technology that is available to us and implement our own policies for a greater work-life balance. It’s definitely time and possible to kiss that dreaded 9 to 5, five days a week office grind goodbye and take advantage of the flexibility that technology has provided us.