By Andreea Andrei, Marketing and Business Administration Executive at The Cloud Computing, SaaS and Security Awards

This article is part of an A to Z series by Cloud and SaaS Awards, continuing with O for Off-Premises

The current changes all countries in the world are experiencing since the spread of COVID-19 force us to reinvent ourselves and turn crises into great opportunities.

More and more organizations get captivated by the growth of off-premises. Thus, it is vital to ascertain its effects on the quality of life of those engaged. The concept, categories, and characteristics of remote work are broadened, and certain research is offered to account for its benefits and drawbacks in this article.

What were the positive changes COVID-19 made?

One of the clearest aspects of these changes is labor relations and the fulfilment of the obligations derived from them, which in the vast majority of opportunities can no longer be fulfilled in the workplace, but rather remotely, as a result of forced confinement due to the spread of the pandemic.

Advances in telecommunications allow us today to speak of a new labor modality, through which people who can work outside the company’s facilities are linked using new information technologies, with the aim of reducing costs for the employer and improving the worker’s quality of life.

This is presented through several modalities that vary from “off-premises,” “online work,” “remote work,” and “work from home,” which have become a central axis of study and discussion to face current critical situations of social isolation and allow us to continue with work activities without the termination or suspension of employment contracts simultaneously.

As a result of the current post COVID-19 crisis, many countries across the globe have made the decision to implement off-premises working in their regulatory framework, insuring business continuity and the guarantee of working conditions for workers; this is the case for many firms throughout the world, including Ecuador and Chile, per example.

What are the advantages of off-premises work?

Off-premises, seen as a form of work organization, involves the performance of paid activities using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to connect the worker, the employer, and the development of work activities without requiring the physical presence of the worker in the employer’s facilities.

This can be done in three ways:

  • Self-employed – the home or place used for professional activities can be chosen independently. Thus, work is always done outside the company and the self-employed only go on-premises on some occasions;
  • Mobile work – in which there is no established workplace and the main tools for development are ICT;
  • Hybrid work – work is done two or three days per week at home and the rest of the time in an office.

There are issues that could be addressed around off-premises labour, however, positive points that generate many benefits for both parties (employer and employee) must be considered:

  • Economic – labor effects: cost reduction, higher productivity, labor flexibility, stress reduction and access to people with disabilities;
  • Legal – contractual effects: flexibility of hours, reduced absenteeism, low staff turnover, greater satisfaction and work commitment;
  • Social – family effects: improvement of the quality of life, greater possibility of parents who are heads of households to accompany their children;
  • Technological effects: pollution reduction, vehicular traffic reduction, greater access to ICTs, immediacy of information.

In times of crisis, the best option is to see the opportunities for:

  • Change;
  • Transformation;
  • Adaptation;
  • Improvement in the quality of life of people, cities, of countries and societies.

Will on-site work be replaced by remote work?

ICTs do not replace human labor conditions, they are a useful tool that allows us to see everyday life from another perspective: the possibility of connecting, relating, and developing work activities without requiring physical presence in a specific place. However, it requires:

  • Discipline;
  • Organization;
  • Conviction;
  • Ability to adapt to change, both as an employer and as an employee.

In this sense, Information and Telecommunications Technologies (ICTs) transform the means of labor relations but not the working conditions, since these are still in force, such as: working hours, salary, labor nature of teleworking, rest, equality, voluntariness, legislation applicable, union guarantees and social security guarantees, and labor risks.

The infrastructure of off-premises businesses

In recent years, the demand for computing resources has increased dramatically. The majority of businesses did not initially need to build an internal IT infrastructure. However, firms in practically every sector today rely on complex technological architectures to support their day-to-day operations.

Many business models have sprouted up in response to the rising need for IT infrastructure. Mostly due to the rise in demand for managed infrastructure over the past ten years, cloud computing has become increasingly popular. Some of the business models that have resulted from the cloud revolution include IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

The question whether to create the infrastructure internally or outside is crucial. It could have a long-term effect on the company’s performance, efficiency, and operational expenses. Understanding the values of off-premises infrastructure is key, given the possible repercussions of choosing the incorrect strategy.

  • Administration: The IT infrastructure must be handled by the provider of managed services. Electricity supply, maintenance, upkeep, data backup, and other duties are handled by the cloud provider.
  • Property and control: The building and the processing power belong to the cloud service provider. Like a renter, the company utilizes the infrastructure. According to the terms of your contract with the supplier, you may make use of the infrastructure. The decisions regarding the facilities and resources is less controlled by the company.
  • Capital output: Most cloud service providers give a pay-as-you-go option. This subscription-based business strategy eliminates the need for significant upfront costs. Customers often have the option of leaving the service whenever they wish. They won’t run the danger of being forced to maintain unproductive projects on their balance sheet as a result.
  • Costs: Depending on the resources they utilize, users may be charged a membership fee or normal fees. Off-premises computing may be particularly adaptable in this sense. Each of the provider’s clients pays a portion of the costs connected with sustaining the provider’s facilities and resources. Customers will often pay less as a result, compared to alternatives that are located on-site.
  • Scalability: Cloud service providers give more flexible resource scaling. Resources can be increased or decreased by organizations as needed. The off-premises strategy nearly always makes the right number of resources accessible.
  • Network: Because the infrastructure is not situated on corporate property, users may only access it online. The cloud provider and company will need to set up a secure private network if connectivity over the Internet is not acceptable.
  • Security: It is the cloud service provider’s responsibility to keep its platform and infrastructure secure. Thus, only the security of the apps that are installed by the firm using the infrastructure are its responsibility. Nonetheless, this decreases the need for investment significantly.
  • Management of bugs and updates: Hardware and software updates on platforms are handled by the cloud service provider. There may be little to no control over how and when modifications take place for companies utilizing the service. Having said that, cloud service providers may update resources without affecting service levels because of its scalability.

Overall, off-premises are those that are not within the business facilities, but within the cloud. That is, the processing and storage of data are done on servers managed and maintained by third-party companies. The use of off-premise servers is a way that many companies have found to reduce their data center costs, since it allows more mobility to access information and faster scalability, especially needed post-pandemic.

If your business has its infrastructure off-premises, these are Cloud Awards categories that might interest you:

  • Best Cloud Infrastructure: this award is based on reliability and scalability, respectively;
  • Best Hybrid Cloud Solution: the main criteria for this award, which favors a practical approach to cloud services, are latency, security, and dependability in a real-world solution;

The rest of categories can be viewed here.  Please keep in mind that you still have time to submit your late entry for the Cloud Awards 2022-2023 program.