Whenever we talk about 'the cloud', we tend to talk about it in fairly grounded technology terms, primarily its impact on how we access our data and communicate with each other.
By adopting cloud-based technologies, businesses are giving their employees better flexibility, changing where, when and how they work.
But this only gives cursory consideration to the real impact on the ways we work. We still talk about employees in terms of their relation to their workplace and devices, and it is assumed that we'll still work in the same way, just from different places and at different times.
Your workplace is where you choose to work
The workplace is still seen as synonymous with the business itself; every business has an office, a headquarters. Employees may be free to spend less time there, but it's difficult to get past thinking that the physical place is somehow the business itself.
Yet every good business leader knows that an organisation is not made up of bricks and mortar, it is made up of people. So I believe to think about cloud working as freedom from working away from the workplace is absurd. Wherever you choose to work is the workplace, and your workforce is your business.
Cloud-based workforces, not businesses
This is where the ideas of the human cloud comes into play. Ten years from now we will not be talking about cloud-based businesses anymore, but cloud-based workforces.
Employees will not be tied somehow to a device, desk, office or country. All of that will either be redundant or incidental; the human cloud workforce will be the business itself.
In this new world of business, employees will work from any location, on any device, and move effortlessly between applications, tools and documents within their own 'cloud'.
Reliable connectivity and communications
Of course in order for this to become the case there is a great reliance on the technology to deliver highly reliable connectivity and communications. The infrastructure needs to be in place to allow employees to access everything in their personal cloud at the touch of a button.
Communications will need to be as effortless as leaning over a desk to talk to someone, and reliable enough for employees to know they can reach any of their clients or colleagues as easily as they ever could.
Assuming this becomes reality, the physical office space will take on a completely new function and meaning. Employees won't come into the office to 'work' in the traditional sense anymore; it will be a space for collaboration, meetings and discussions.
In fact, in the age of the human cloud businesses may not need fixed physical addresses at all. The space and time to collaborate, meet and discuss could be more transient, booked simply on the basis of what's required and when.
- Graham Bevington is the Executive Vice President International Markets at Mitel. Graham is responsible for the growth and success of Mitel in all non-North American regions, including EMEA, APAC and CALA. Graham has more than 25 years experience in the hi-tech industry in sales and management positions.