Lauren Bacon knows how to get the most out of a distributed team. Now a business coach, Bacon spent many years as the head of a design and development studio. The firm had some full-time employees, some part-time, some freelancers, some working from the firm’s office, some from home—and everyone relied heavily on cloud-based software tools. “People were coming and going all the time,” Bacon remembers. “We had Adobe accounts. We were using Git for software versioning. We used QuickBooks for invoicing and accounting.”
In this fast-moving environment, Bacon’s favorite software was an exceedingly simple time-tracking app. Bacon says the application boosted the productivity of all employees at the studio. And indeed, when specialized cloud applications function together as they are intended to do, they provide a flexible, scalable infrastructure.
But there’s a flip side to this abundance: complexity. The more apps and devices employees use, the harder it can be for them to find the right information and stay focused on the tasks at hand. One IDC study found that today’s knowledge workers spend one-sixth of their work hours just searching for information they need—and, as often as not, failing to find it.
The answer isn’t to go backward: 68 percent of information workers say it’s “very important” or “critical” that they have the ability to access work files and apps from anywhere, on any device, according to a 2018 Forrester Research study. Instead, the right approach for IT decision-makers may be to thoughtfully embrace the cloud transition. When organizations plan ahead and pick the right apps and management frameworks, observers say, it is possible to contain the complexity and help keep workers on track.