Introduction
Given the COVID-19 that the word is facing today, many businesses, large and small, have been scrambling literally around the clock in order to make sure that their remote workforce has all of the tools that they need in order to remain productive during this sustained lockdown.

But there is yet another important lesson to be learned in all of this. Before COVID-19, many businesses, both large and small, did not have a plan in place in order to make the transition to a remote workforce into a seamless process. This is the where the importance of business continuity planning comes into play. 

As the workforce returns back to the office in a phased in approach, there will probably be an uptick in creating these kinds of plans. Although planning is very important, there is yet another platform out there that can help a business owner to mobilise their workforce quickly away from the traditional office setting – that is using a Cloud-based infrastructure, which is the focal point of this article.

How to use the Cloud to leverage your workforce in and keep them productive
The following are some of the ways in which you can use the Cloud, as well as some of its strategic benefits for your remote workforce:

Not as much time is needed to configure devices:
If you have an on-premises IT infrastructure, your IT department will have to manually configure each and every device for all of the employees. This not only includes procuring the needed hardware, but installing all of the applications that each employee needs, and making sure that all of them have all of the essential security mechanisms installed onto them, such as Encryption, Two Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multifactor Authentication (MFA), Virtual Private Network Services, etc. But by using the Cloud, all of the needed applications will be stored there. Also, you don’t need to worry about implementing any layers of security onto them. It is already done for you by your Cloud provider.  Within hours, your now remote workforce will be able to work from anywhere securely and safely.

remote work
(Menara Grafis/Shutterstock)

It allows for instant collaboration:
Just because your employees may be miles and miles apart from one another in a physical sense, it does not mean that they cannot hold meetings and collaborate with others. This can all be done through a virtual environment in Azure, using Microsoft Teams. With this package, you can hold all kinds of phone meetings, video conferences, online messaging, etc. Through the portal, you can even manage your teams, and also even manage the IP-based phones that they are using. For example, you can upload various kinds of configuration files for the phones that are being used, make any changes in just a matter of seconds, and even apply software updates and patches to all of your remote workers telephones, with just a few clicks of the mouse, all from one centralised location. You can also manage the virtual meetings that are taking place. For instance, if you want to have a private conversation with only a select group of employees, you can allow who can enter and who cannot. It also comes with a robust reporting tools package, to see how your remote employees are utilising Microsoft Teams. From this dashboard, you can then make pertinent decisions as to how to use this application to optimise the workflow and efficiency of your remote employees. But there are other benefits to using Azure for your businesses’ collaborative efforts. These include the following:

  • You will have further, enhanced control over the projects and their deadlines as they are being accomplished in a virtual world;
  • All of these projects can be managed and coordinated literally from anywhere around the globe, while being assured that the best layers of protection are being used;
  • You can instantaneously synchronise all of the workflows for all of your remote employees and keep track of key milestones as they are being accomplished;
  • Any updates to the status of any projects or employees will be provided to you in real time, with the bottom line being that the deadlines will be met or even exceeded even as your employees are far apart from one another;
  • There is also a greater chance for your employees to think more outside of the box and be creative in their job activities.

It allows for flexibility:
Even if there is a not disaster to be faced, Azure, even in the best of times, allows a much greater flexibility for your employees to work remotely. Because of this, they may not necessarily have to work the traditional eight-hour work model that has been around for so long. As a result, you can allow your employees to work during those times when they are at their best, which will result in much greater morale. Of course, a happy employee will mean in the end, not only loyalty, but even more enhanced on your bottom line. In other words, your remote employees, by using Azure, can work anywhere from where they are most comfortable and from any device that does not necessarily have to be company-issued (but of course, these devices have to be approved by the IT security team first).

It means increased productivity:
By using Azure, you will be more or less assured that your employees will feel comfortable from any environment or geographic location where they may at that point in time. For example, if your remote employee chooses not to work at home all of the time, they can very easily rent out a virtual office, or even a co-working spot. One of the key advantages here is that if your remote workers can mingle with other people that are not even affiliated with your company, they may be able to get new ideas and fresh perspectives on the projects that they are currently working on that they may never have thought of before. This will only lead to a greater level of creativity, which in turn, can lead to a much higher quality deliverable to your client.

Conclusions
Our next article will continue to examine the benefits of using Azure for your remote workforce.

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