Employees entering the workplace are not welded to the traditional ways of working. With everyone in a central building, little access to communications outside the office, and no access to work documents away from their desk.

Several reports have highlighted how employees are using cloud services (whether for communications or document storage) within the work place to support how they want to work. The concern for business owners is that in a significant number of cases, this use of the cloud is happening under the radar of the IT department.

For example, a recent Microsoft study found 30% of 18 – 24 year-olds have ignored corporate IT policies and installed social tools on work PCs and phones. And Huddle’s ‘State Of The Enterprise Landscape’ report states 53% of 18 – 38 year-olds use personal cloud storage for work documents.

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What’s in it for them?

For employees the driving force for wanting to bring their own ways of working, and personal devices, into a company breaks down into several factors:

  • A desire to use equipment, apps and services they feel comfortable with. This avoids the learning curve of different services
  • Better collaboration. 40% of respondents to the Microsoft survey, said social tools had increased collaboration in the workplace.
  • Sharing documents. Part of better collaboration is how cloud storage provides an easier way for people to share documents. Email attachments are replaced with links to online files; getting around file attachment size limits and making sure people can access the latest version.

The move to BYOD was brought about through employees, especially senior ones, pushing the IT department to support the phones they already owned. The move to use cloud services for communication and document storage is similarly being led by employees wanting to change how they work.

Companies which start implementing policies and technologies to support how employees want to work stand a better chance of holding onto quality staff, and attracting new people.

Embrace and extend

Employees shouldn’t have to skulk around using their personal cloud services behind employers’ backs. And employers shouldn’t feel that all cloud services are inherently insecure and not suitable for business.

There are safe, business-ready services which employers can use to give teams either the working environment they want, or one close enough that they will embrace it as a valuable alternative.

Business owners should task their IT departments with researching the options now. Ask them to look for services which combine:

  • Security – Is information stored, and transmitted in secure ways? Is data encrypted? Is access to cloud services controlled?
  • Flexibility – Is the service designed to meet different business needs? Individual departments won’t all have the same requirements.
  • Ease-of-use – The easier a service is to use, the more employees will be willing to switch and leave their personal services where they belong; at home.
  • Auditing – Reporting and tracking of user activity is essential if businesses are to keep control of how employees use cloud services.

It’s easy for business owners, or IT manager, to stand back and declare they won’t sanction workers using personal cloud services and devices, but that clearly isn’t having a big influence on employees decision to use them.

Instead business owners need to look at how they attract the next generation of workers, and at the same time give existing employees more flexibility in their working patterns. The ultimate gain for employers is a more flexible, more efficient and better communicating work environment.