The Hybrid Workforce and the Cloud

The Hybrid Workforce and the Cloud

A flurry of businesses across Australia rushed to create remote, real-time workflows to enable distance work in 2020. The accumulated effect of these efforts — at small and large-sized enterprises alike — can now be seen in the country’s embrace of cloud solutions.

A slow digital transformation already in progress rapidly accelerated, propelled by the global pandemic, as employers worked virtually overnight to build an IT infrastructure that could support a fully remote workforce. The use of the cloud has enabled the productive workforces that are spurring even traditional businesses to embrace a hybrid workforce even beyond the pandemic. With many employees now wishing to continue teleworking at least part of the week, hybrid working is here to stay.

Owing to the ease-of-use and centralised information sharing — solutions like Universal Print and the Azure Active Directory — hybrid and fully remote workforces are poised to become the standard across many organisations. To make this work, leaders will need to fully utilise the cloud to enhance security and employee flexibility.

A group of employees in a meeting room discussing a project.
With many employees now wishing to continue teleworking, hybrid working is here to stay

Shift to remote operations

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two in five Australians worked from home at least once per week in February, 2021. This figure represents 41% of the workforce, a near double increase from the 24% of Australian workers who worked from home at least once a week in March 2020.

The same survey found that more than half of all Australian workers anticipate working at least the same amount of time from home, if not more, in the future. Employees are working more from home across several industries, too, according to Indeed research from March, 2021.

Still, the report said, most jobs with remote work options remain clustered among white collar jobs, like those in IT, media, math, marketing, architecture and social science.

Employees in all industries are now increasingly familiar with how to access and utilise enterprise apps and data no matter where they’re located, or which network connection they’re using at home.

The proliferation of cloud-based work tools mobilises employees, helping to attract top talent. Over the pandemic, many workers have, as an increasing proportion of the workforce, become adept at using tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack for real-time communications.

At least 55 % of all Australian businesses reported the use of paid cloud computing in the year ending 30 June 2020, says a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (June 2021). This is a 12% increase over the 2017-18 financial year.

Businesses with more than 200 employees were most likely to use one or more types of internet and communications technology (ICT) with 57% of those businesses using cloud-based ICT.

Some businesses, though, remain hesitant as having sensitive business data stored on employee devices increases vulnerability.

Centralised information source

Cloud-based systems enable a business of any size to create a Single Source of Truth, or SSOT. This is a platform or tool accessible across all departments where data can be shared. It may take the form of a spreadsheet or a dashboard. Either way, it gives each employee in the company the same access to data they can use to guide their work. Having each colleague able to make data-driven decisions — all based on the same information — is a surefire way to increase productivity.

Once created, a centralised SSOT data source is easier to maintain and keep clean, providing each member of staff with data that is verified and accurate. The SSOT can be created in house, too. Once data loss prevention policies are in place, organisations can mitigate the risk that sensitive data is exposed to parties outside of the company.

A businesswoman walking down a side street checking her smartphone.
The proliferation of cloud-based work tools mobilises employees, helping to attract top talent

Universal cloud print can help establish cloud integration

Remote work still generates reports and the need for printing. But not all colleagues have printers available, either because they don’t have a printer or because they’re in the field. The Universal Print solution helps users manage their print infrastructure through cloud services from Microsoft.

With a Microsoft 365 subscription, users can access Universal Print to:

  • Monitor printer status, configurations, and availability
  • See who’s using printers and how much they’re printing
  • Configure user permissions

This cloud printing solution is secured thanks to Active Directory Authentication, which restricts the use of your device. If the IT team has enabled Active Directory Authentication, the device’s control panel will be locked, meaning the document can’t be collected or the settings can’t be changed until you enter your Active Directory User ID and Password. This means:

  • Print jobs are securely stored in the device’s internal memory until they are collected
  • Others are prevented from handling printed confidential documents, ensuring they have not been taken, copied or read by anyone else
  • Users only need to use one User ID and Password for all devices. The Single Sign On (SSO) environment is efficient and secure

Leveraging the cloud for today’s business

Data-driven decision making is paramount in today’s hybrid workforce, whereas many tasks are automated as possible so that human decision-makers can focus on critical thinking and creativity. All colleagues in an organisation must be equipped with the same access to data to efficiently make data-driven decisions — no matter where they’re sitting.

Implementing cloud-based solutions like Universal Print and the Azure Active Directory will only enable employees to work productively while they’re away from a central office.

With many distance workers across Australia wishing to continue teleworking at least part of the week, the era of the hybrid workforce is already here. Click here to learn more about how Brother, in conjunction with cloud-based solutions, can help your business.


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