The Cloud Workers


Of the many changes that have transformed the workplace in the last decade, the most transformational has undoubtedly been the changing concept of the office space itself. No longer have the cubicled, large pieces of real estate where the boss can keep a hawk eyed on his reportees. As we transition into a hyper- connected, n-dimensional world where Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty suddenly makes a lot of sense, the real estate has shrunk and shrunk and converged into virtual office space. The uber- connected yet agonizingly detached Gen Y has entered the office precincts and started challenging the concept of brick and mortar work spaces segregated along hierarchical lines. The result is the emergence of the cloud workforce who work invisibly, connect on Skype, back-thump on Yammer and work off sleek tablets. As the ambit of the enterprise has expanded to encompass the globe, the cloud has spread making things like physical distances and visa restrictions inconsequential. The challenge for the manager has increased manifold. His new reportee Jake insists on working from his rock studio, the music keeps his creativity alive. He has impromptu meet-ups in his garage where the rest of the folks Nita, Samuel, Lee come together once in a while from different parts of the country. And when they come up with something really brilliant, they Skype you onto it. Are you happy with the situation?

Chances are if you are the typical autocratic, control-freak boss, you would panic. You would fret over the loss of control, of the inability to keep a watchful eye on your employees or maybe the kick you get out of surprising them while they are playing poker. On the other hand if you are the new-age smart manager, you would welcome the invisibility, the flexibility and the ubiquity of the cloud workforce. The amazing strides that we have made in telecom technology have enabled the new paradigms of working. There are countless benefits. You can reduce your real estate costs and invest the capital elsewhere instead. Building maintenance costs which sit on your books as major expenditures take a tumbling. Your employees appreciate the freedom to work from anywhere. They are no longer wasting precious time and energy commuting. And you gain access to very valuable components of workforce who are otherwise forced to not work or take up lower profile jobs – working mothers or those with a sick parent at home for example. The cloud work force also gives you tremendous geographical reach. You can have the best people from all over the country work for you. So you do not have to open a branch in expensive cities to get access to the best talent. The new paradigms also break down walls between the enterprise and the larger world, opening up opportunities for collaboration beyond your organization. Organizations such as Eli Lily and P&G have successfully adopted crowd-sourcing where they have the world working with them to improve their products. So your suppliers, your customers, your employees and the community at large can doodle the next big innovation on online sketch boards. Suddenly what seemed like a management nightmare has made far-reaching innovation possible.

Ofcourse there are stiff challenges. An organic enterprise which stretches like a porous membrane across the globe needs highly evolved management culture to ensure you do not sacrifice cohesiveness altogether. At times there is nothing like a face to face meeting to thrash out issues and get things moving. Physical workspaces thus still retain their importance. The cloud force also requires new ways of measuring performance. HR practices such as logging in time suddenly seem archaic. The emphasis has to shift to more qualitative evaluation of work. The concept of separate time for work and play is fast disappearing. Employees play while at work and seal deals while vacationing off the Caribbean islands. For Gen Y, life is one hyper-connected maze with blurred boundaries. The smart manager has to attune to this concept. It would not be easy to lose the decades of management practices centred on monitoring and control. However as far as the cloud workforce goes, control loses hands down to collaboration. Enjoy the liberating showers.

RimjhimRimjhim Ray heads the Social Media Marketing at Tata Consultancy Services. She is an experienced sales and marketing professional having led  global portfolios including new age solutions such as cloud, social media and mobility. She has also lead CS initiatives in various countries including UK and Ireland and have championed social media programs around sustainability. She is an avid blogger, marathoner and a social media practitioner. She holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Applications from Jadavpur University and a MBA from SP Jain, Mumbai. She also holds certificates in Social Media from Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK. She is an avid toastmaster and she is a part of the executive committee of Mumbai Toast Masters. Check out her blog at Globe-Slother. Connect with her on LinkedIn and on twitter @GlobeSlother.



  1. Reansh says:

    Hi Rimjhim nice article.
    I think the only disconnect Cloud Workers is disconnect itself. The hustle-bustle in office the coffee talks (gossips) I will die if you ask me to work from home or remote location for long duration. Gen-Y will prefer office environment. Recognition or boasting (that’s harsh) plays vital role in our day to day activity. Cloud working to me works temporarily or on projects. For particular roles say creative or technical writing etc.

  2. Rimjhim Ray says:

    Hey Reansh. Thanks. But I think we dont like set hours and timetables and boundaries either. Office is a place we choose to be in, if I have to work from CCD I wouldnt mind. Yeah the face to face connect is still imp. It is finally up to geny to find the balance.

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