By Brenda Morris, General Manager UK, Kronos

The priorities of today’s workforce are significantly different to those of ten years ago, with employees becoming increasingly expectant of their employers to support a ‘flexible’ way of working. As technology becomes more prominent in everyday life, remote working, amongst other trends, has become a popular characteristic of the modern worker and cloud applications have rapidly become synonymous with flexibility, providing employees with more choice in how they work.

Yet, from a small and medium business (SMB) perspective cloud applications often fall under the umbrella of ‘shadow IT’, technology that is used within an organisation without explicit approval, representing a lack of control and increased complexity. In this way, the organisational benefits of cloud can be overlooked and there is the risk that the potential value to the business is never properly realised. With technology becoming increasingly ingrained in working life, what can businesses do to ensure they capitalise on the cloud?

Cloud empowerment

Technology has progressed momentously, consequently employee expectations of the technology they use when at work have increased accordingly. Our research Cloud Ready, ‘Unlocking the strategic value of cloud for SMBs’ revealed that nearly half (49%) of employees take into account the quality of available technology and applications when considering one employer over the other, thus demonstrating how important technology is to many organisations and their workers.

The emergence of cloud applications points to the growing trend of technology empowering today’s workforce. Our research highlights that nearly two-thirds of employees (64%) believe cloud applications play an important role in supporting their day-to-day work. Ultimately workers feel more comfortable and at ease when using cloud apps. Although application use is highly dependent on business function, 83% report that given the opportunity, they would prefer to use cloud applications as opposed to on-premise apps.

Current attitudes to technology at work

The cloud is playing an increasingly significant role in the day-to-day work of SMB employees. It provides both ease and flexibility and contributes to workers feeling happier and more productive when using cloud apps in their day-to-day jobs. The result of this has seen attitudes towards technology at work evolve with employees today expecting their employer to provide the technology they need to do their jobs. They see having the appropriate tools as a fundamental requirement, whether this is reliable software (86%) or reliable hardware (84%) and, in a fragile economic climate, something they now expect more than a competitive salary (75%) and other benefits from potential employers.

The time is now for cloud deployment

Many SMBs are already benefitting from cloud deployments. However, there has never been a better time for them to embrace cloud technology and generate increasing business value from the cloud.

Despite the various benefits delivered by cloud, businesses are unclear on how to best manage this new way of working. Currently workers are ‘freestyling’, where cloud apps are being used. Businesses need a more strategic structure in place to ensure cloud use is more aligned with their businesses plans. SMBs should consider cloud as part of their wider IT strategy and implement policies and procedures to control the use of cloud. By doing so they will be able to deliver the safe, secure and flexible working environment that workers desire to driver increased productivity. Our research demonstrates that approximately half of workers (45%) report that their organisation has a definitive policy in place when it comes to controlling the use of cloud applications within their business.

The cloud is here to stay

Cloud and cloud apps are key elements in the lives of modern workers as they contribute to a more flexible working style. Not only do they contribute to the promotion of independent and remote working, they also allow employees to work quickly, easily and simply. The result of this flexible infrastructure is a more productive workforce that is able to quickly react to the needs of customers. By having the latest and most up-to-date information, businesses are able to deliver a truly relevant and informed service.

It’s undeniable that the cloud is here to stay, consequently we need to manage it proactively and effectively. As people continue to use technology in a growing number of ways, they also expect the same standards and opportunities in their working lives as they do in their personal lives, including speed, security and simplicity. Employers are the ones who are expected to provide the necessary tools in order to achieve this.