The tradeoff between remote working, cloud, and life

The tradeoff between remote working, cloud, and life

Summary: With cloud services, storage, and mobile apps pervasive today, employees are freed up to work from anywhere at anytime. What does this mean for work-life balance?


My prediction for 2014 is that this is the year when work communication will always get to you. Sure, there are many messages telling people to unplug, disconnect, and enjoy the non-digital life, but the reason there are those "movements" is because people want the opposite--they want to be always-on, always-connected, and always-communicating.

They want work to be a meaningful part of life...and that means work will always be there. What's making this possible? The cloud.

Cloud computing have led to applications being hosted on the cloud, able to be accessed from any web browser or quickly installed and used on-demand. On vacation, and need to check your online accounting program? Pop into an internet café and start crunching numbers.

Cloud storage has also enabled everyone, from the enterprise to the individual, to store anything and everything online.  As the Dropbox saying goes: "Sync is the new save." Work e-mail comes in while you're on the bus, asking for a copy of that file? No problem. Fire up your phone, navigate to the file, copy the link, and send it to the requestor.

With data and services accessible from anywhere, it makes sense that enterprise applications have gone mobile, allowing the user to stay productive even if all they have is their smartphone.

I'm sure many of you are thinking: "This is horrible, who wants to be connected to work all the time?" My position is that the majority of people do. As people clamor for flexible schedules, work-remote scenarios, and increasingly freelance "gun-for-hire" roles working on multiple projects, the need grows for being able to work anywhere and at any time. The tradeoff for that flexibility is the company also communicates with you when it wants to.

When a company arms its employees with devices and cloud applications, freeing them up to work from anywhere, is it fair for the company to expect that the employee will increase their productivity?

Topic: Cloud


Howard spent 14 years in the tech industry working as a programmer, evangelist, and community manager for Microsoft. In 2009, he had lived his "dream" of middle-management long enough and opened a Japanese restaurant called Standing Sushi Bar. Trading in stock grants and software licenses for raw fish and cash, he enjoys mixing his passion for technology into the daily hustle of small business.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • heh . . .

    "They want work to be a meaningful part of life …"

    You know you're a blogger when you say this with a straight face . . .

    "My position is that the majority of people do."

    Opinion noted. Actually, it's not really worth noting.
    • Opinions

      I assume you disagree. :)
  • Want to or need to!

    Super interesting article Howard.

    Last year I took a position which attracted me with the promise of flexibility. Whilst this has been great, as you correctly stated, the payoff is that the defined work hours have been eroded. I took a while to adjust to this, and realized for me, I do prefer a very specific exclusivity between work and life. It took me a while to *not* check my work email as I went to bed, etc.

    I wonder that you pose the statement that many do want to be contactable at all times. I think they NEED to be, but surely most people WANT to be in the bath with a glass of wine, chilling out or socializing with friends?! ;)

    Nice article!!
  • Cloud technology truly is amazing...

    As a small business owner and a telecommuter for a couple of other businesses, I can attest to the amazing things you can accomplish with cloud-based technology. There are a lot of obvious choices -- Skype, Dropbox, TeamViewer, etc. -- but there are some that may not be so well known, but still accomplish incredible things. Take MySammy, for example ( This software actually measures the productivity levels of remote workers, generates reports and even helps the employer to find ways to encourage telecommuters to increase their productivity. Truly amazing!
  • Connected Communication = Total Client Experience.

    I agree that all of us want the option to be connected to our jobs at any time. Having the option makes us provide a better experience for our clients, customers and coworkers. However, to keep our personal needs in mind, even though we have the option to respond to a work-related need at all time doesn't necessarily mean that we should be conditioned to automatically answer on command. We still have the power to decide if the timing is right. That's the key to work life balance- Having both options and priorities.
    Andy Core