Remote working has been on the rise for several years now, propelled by technological innovation.
Things like video conferencing tools and improved WiFi connections have made remote work more possible and allowed more people in different locations to work from wherever they are.
However, the COVID-19 outbreak has thrust millions of employees across the globe into compulsory remote working, with some organisations better-prepared for the shift than others. Many have discovered that if they weren’t already set up for remote work, there are some tools and software packages needed ASAP!
The best place to start looking for your remote work enablement is with cloud-based software. Here’s how those tools (like Countfire) support remote work, even if it wasn’t part of your original plan!
Cloud vs. installed apps
The software you use on your computer helps you to do a range of jobs. If you’re working remotely, it’s important to understand the differences between cloud-based and installed apps.
An installed app is restricted to the computer or work network on which it is installed. This means that if you have any desktop systems that remain at your workplace, you can’t access the software from home. If the software is installed on a device or computer you have at home, then the data you create is being saved locally, to the device.
Cloud-based apps are stored and accessed remotely, via the internet. They may be accessed via web apps, mobile apps or both. The remote nature of the app storage means that you can access a cloud-based app from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection and login details to do so.
We’ve broken down a comparison of cloud vs. installed apps in the table below:
- Accessed from anywhere
- Security is managed by the software provider
- Automatically updated via the Cloud
- Collaboration is enabled with multi-user access and real-time updates. In a nutshell, you’ll always be looking at the latest version
- Accessibility to your cloud-based apps is generally not affected when you upgrade to a new computer
- Support is usually available any time online
- Data is saved to the cloud and protected by the security protocols of the software company
- Limited to on-premise
- Security needs to be managed by the device useror owner
- Requires the device user to download to their device
- Most installed software are single-user applications. Networked software requires extensive installation and management of an in-house serverAccessibility to your cloud-based apps is generally not affected when you upgrade to a new computer
- Installed software will have to go through a tedious process of data migration and reinstallment on a new computer
- Support often requires a house call to the client
- Data loss can be a real issue. If a hard drive crashes, it can be difficult to retrieve data. It can also be prone to loss if the device gets a virus
If you look closely at these differences between cloud-based and installed apps, you can see some very apparent challenges for remote work if you were to rely on installed software. For one thing, you’re social distancing! You need to be able to collaborate effectively with others and know that you’re looking at current versions of documents or other essential needs. This all has to happen online now, which is difficult if you rely on installed software.
Secondly, you can’t simply access the installed software from anywhere. You need to be using the machine it is installed on - a bit difficult if this is the office desktop.
Thirdly, what do you do if something goes wrong and you need help with installed software? You might be able to get support via a phone call or email if it’s the sort of issue that they can manage remotely, but otherwise, it could require someone to come in-person. That’s not going to happen right now…
Why cloud-based apps are more important than ever
Cloud-based apps have proven themselves to be saviours of jobs and even businesses at a time when a different approach is needed to keep the doors open. That’s no exaggeration; it’s about enabling people to carry on with their work, even if they’re required to be at home.
Importantly, cloud-based apps can allow people to be highly productive. While many workplaces have traditionally been skeptical of allowing remote work, they’re often finding that the right cloud-based tools actually help people to work more efficiently than before. Now we’re cutting out the commute, it’s a win-win for many!
Another key benefit of cloud-based apps is that they allow workers to stay collected, regardless of their location. There are some excellent communication tools for example, and of course, as mentioned earlier, cloud-based apps allow real-time collaboration. Essential information can be accessed and automatically updated and synced from anywhere.
Here’s another thing to consider: cloud-based apps can be a lifesaver for businesses in the event that some kind of disaster strikes. Let’s say there’s a fire or flood that destroys office equipment, or even just the computer you work with crashes and dies; cloud-based software allows for quick data recovery. It’s a matter of logging into your account from another device, so you won’t lose all of your work!
Software and data security
One hesitation some companies have had about switching to remote working and cloud-based software is concern over security protocols. It’s understandable - there’s a perception that data may be more secure if software is installed within their own network.
There are two primary threats to data security: that it gets lost or that it gets stolen. In the first example, “lost” data happens when you have technical issues, such as equipment that fails or programs that crash. Stolen data is as it sounds – when data gets taken without permission, either by a hacker or by someone who has had access.
Cloud-based software can actually improve your data security over and above network-installed systems. Here’s why:
- The cloud-based solutions tend to be much more difficult for a hacker to crack. They’re updated regularly and monitored constantly, whereas many in-office networks don’t have the IT resources to constantly monitor and update security. Many legacy systems have significant security holes.
- Related to that last point, cloud-based apps have the ability to automatically deploy updates, including for security purposes. Installed software requires someone to download and enable updates – this often gets ignored for a while!
- Cloud-based data is stored off-site. This means if disaster occurs, you’ll still be able to access it. It also means that it’s more difficult for a third-party to stumble across your data and use it for themselves.
- Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) undergo rigorous and frequent auditing of their practices, including security protocols. The same can’t usually be said for your local office network…
- Access to your data is easy to control. Most cloud-based apps have a setup where you nominate an admin and they give access to other users within your business. If an employee were to leave, it’s a simple matter of revoking their login, which can also be done from anywhere.
We can confirm from our perspective, as the vendors of Countfire, that our cloud security protocols are rigorous. In a competitive industry such as electrical estimating for tenders, we know how important it is that companies are able to keep their information confidential.
The numbers of people working remotely have already grown greatly over the last few years, but the recent pandemic has seen those numbers explode virtually overnight.
More companies are needing to find ways to work remotely if they want to remain active over isolation periods, and they need good software solutions to enable them.
Cloud-based software provides the ideal solution for remote work. It will keep your team connected and ensure that work is up-to-date. You can be safe in the knowledge that your data is secure and safely stored on the cloud.