Image by Andrew Bowden
Welcome to the era of broadband internet, leaving dial-up internet (with its, ah, unique start-up noises) a thing of the past! The usage of broadband has skyrocketed since it was first introduced in 1997 and is now used in over 19 million households across the UK. We now have the internet at our fingertips and can enjoy connection speeds up to 20 times faster than dial-up internet.
So what does this mean for life as we know it? Well aside from having instant internet access, broadband has paved the way for what is known as cloud technology.
What’s Cloud Technology?
Cloud technology or ‘cloud computing’ is essentially a web-based application that can hold a number of different programs which can be accessed by thousands of people. Some examples include university Blackboard websites, Facebook and Gmail. These applications can be used wherever you are and on any computer – as long as you’re one of the 19 million with broadband! This is because all the information is stored, not on a computer itself, but in the ‘cloud’. All you need is a username and password.
Not only has this technology fuelled the social networking craze, it’s also had a massive impact on the business world. Businesses now using cloud computing have provided the opportunity for their employees to work from home.
Working From Home, Cloud-Style
The prospect of people working from home sounds mad, doesn’t it? After all – working from home? More like sitting on the sofa with a cuppa watching Jeremy Kyle before fleetingly glancing at a few emails, right? Will any work actually get done in the comfort of one’s home without a boss breathing down one’s neck? With that said, this flexible working has gradually become more popular in the business sector with approximately 70% of businesses now using a cloud service.
In addition to cloud computing, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology means employees can clock in their work hours with a simple phone call, allowing employers to keep tabs even on remote workers. So for many office jobs – including call center work – it has become much more practical to do from home.
Now it is all very well having the means to offer flexible working, but how many people actually take advantage of this? Statistics show that around 20% of the UK workforce work either primarily from home or work from home at least some of the time; this figure is expected to increase rapidly. So could waking up at ungodly hours in the morning, struggling to get on a packed train, or getting stuck in that inevitable, headache-inducing traffic jam all become a distant memory?
Employees working from home will save the time they would have spent commuting to the office and will be able to work more flexibly around their home life, which may be particularly beneficial for those with young children. On the business side of things, forking out less money for office space and having a happier and thus more productive workforce is certainly an advantageous aspect of having remote workers.
The Cloud and Crowds
However, there are still people who would choose to go into the office. Working with other people, getting a face-to-face response to a question and even grabbing a drink after work with colleagues are all sacrificed when employees work solely from home. There is also the issue of separating work and home life. Even with a designated work space, it may be difficult to switch from ‘work’ mode to ‘relax’ mode and vice verse. With a home office situated right next to the bedroom people may find themselves working into the wee hours as they didn’t need to ‘leave’ the office to travel home.
In my opinion, traveling to work will still be a part of most people’s working life – but maybe it will become less of an everyday necessity. Cloud technology has not exactly ‘killed the commute’ but rather made it a slightly more comfortable experience. With less people making their journey to the office, commutes will become less stressful with a few more available seats on the tube and less traffic on the roads.
Are you a commuter? Would you appreciate the opportunity to work from home, or do you prefer a clearer work-home divide? Let us know in the comments!