What is an office?
The dictionary describes an office as “a room, set of rooms, or building where the business of a commercial or industrial organization or of a professional person is conducted.” While this may be true, in today’s global environment, an office can be anywhere, anything (building, cubicle, taxi cab or coffee shop) and at any time.
In the past, and currently as well, employees report to a centralized location to perform their responsibilities. At this place, this office, are the required items –conference rooms, printers, computers, phones, whiteboards, desks, tables, etc. – each employee needs to perform their daily tasks.
But what if your employees were not tied to a centralized office? What if your employees could work from anywhere, anytime, and with little to no loss of productivity? What if the files, software and databases your employees needed to access were always at their fingertips, anywhere, any time? What if meetings were not required to be done in a large room, but through laptops, tablets and cell phones. It sounds rather futuristic doesn’t it? That future is the “Cloud”. That future is NOW.
What is the “Cloud”?
The “Cloud” is an IT term for the Internet. More particularly (and more techno-jargon specifically) the “Cloud” is an ‘Internet-based computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked so as to allow sharing of data-processing tasks, centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources.’
“Cloud Computing” or “Cloud Integration” means storing and accessing your data and software via the Internet, rather than running it on your office workstation or office server. If you use programs such as ‘Gmail’ or ‘Google docs’, you may not realize it, but you are already using the “Cloud”.
So what does the “Cloud” have to do with the office?
The concept of the “Cloud” or virtual office is not a new one, but has quickly gained ground of late. With the introduction of the newest version of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps, moving the business office to a virtual format has never been easier. While some businesses have been early adopters of the “Cloud” office model, others are resistant, stating most often, ‘ We’ve always done business this way (brick and mortar), there’s no reason to change.’ This is a valid argument, but just for the sake of a differing viewpoint, what are the main challenges, benefits and drawbacks of a decentralized office? In upcoming articles, this will be explored at great length.
So, with all things being equal, if your software and databases and files were all at your fingertips via your internal network or the “Cloud”, let me ask you…would you rather perform your daily tasks from the conventional office or from the coffee shop around the corner, the cushy softness of your couch, or even the beach?