Cloud Collaboration and Hybrid Workplaces in the Age of COVID-19

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The developing COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to rethink productivity on a grand scale as telecommuting becomes interwoven into the corporate cultural fabric. As this shift happens, many employers have realized that remote work isn’t a zero-sum game. The safety and convenience of working from home aren’t realized at the output’s expense. 

Companies like Google are keeping employees home through next summer, leading many others to follow suit. After all, 56% of the American workforce holds a position compatible with telecommuting. There are many ways employees can stay productive outside of the office, but is 100% remote work really the end-all, be-all?

The Hybrid Workplace Model

 

Job duties aren’t homogenous — certain roles can thrive remotely, while others require on-site attendance. Additionally, globally-distributed companies have offices in diverse locations, which are either hampered by (or relatively spared by) COVID-19. These factors have influenced players like Microsoft to adopt a hybrid model. While employees are welcome to work remotely, many will split their time between the office and their living room couch. 

Companies with open offices have an entirely new set of responsibilities. Employees must socially distance and wear masks. As a result, team members have become more physically siloed than ever before. Therefore, office attendance doesn’t automatically equate to more face time between employees.

Long gone (for now, at least) are the days where employees could lean over someone’s shoulder to tackle a problem or assess progress. Conferences and crowded town halls have faded into yesteryear. The reality is that cloud applications will be pivotal collaboration tools as events unfold heading into 2021.  

Embracing Collaborative Software

Different teams have different priorities and will thus use tailored applications to suit their needs. Project management, IT, and sales team can keep up-to-date using their favorite software. Finally, designers and engineers can flock to programs like Fusion 360 to enable product development. Common channels like Skype, Zoom, and Slack will always have general-purpose appeal in connecting entire organizations. However, specialized cloud software can be essential in managing deliverables and linking employees together, no matter what their location is.

Central Tenets of Remote Work

Projects typically require numerous resources and files from kickoff to close. This documentation — especially for technical endeavors — has immense value to stakeholders across an organization or beyond. As a result, many organizations maintain online repositories. Remote employees need access to those resources yet might not want everyone to view sensitive information. 

Smart collaboration tools like Fusion 360 realize this and thus incorporate user management or some form of role-based access control (RBAC) to preserve privacy. Such measures allow employees to stay informed from afar while rivaling on-site security controls. 

So, what collaboration features do capable applications include? Here are some examples for teams, both technical and non-technical: 

Single-platform global sharing Commenting and annotating for centralized feedback aggregation The ability to make resources public as needed Administrative privileges Cloud storage

Cloud storage is an incredibly important collaboration feature. Cloud servers make resources available from anywhere while alleviating local storage concerns. Technical projects generate massive quantities of data; SSD/HDD capacity shouldn’t undermine one’s ability to accomplish tasks. 

An Increasingly Remote Future 

While only 3.6% of U.S. employees work at home full-time, analysts have forecasted some significant changes by the

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