Lower cost, enhanced flexibility and speedier deployments are among the key selling points for cloud applications. It turns out they can make employees happier too, according to a recent survey from IT services provider Softchoice. While this may not wow the CFO, it could help HR directors and other executives get on board with cloud apps.
When Softchoice surveyed 1,000 North American workers, it found that as usage of cloud apps increased, so did employees' levels of happiness, excitement about work and feelings of productivity.
Nearly three-quarters of those who use one to five cloud apps said they were happy at work, vs. just 19 percent of non-app users. In another finding, 81 percent of people who use six or more cloud apps are excited about going to work, vs. 60 percent of those who use one to five apps and 30 percent of non-app users.
The good feelings seemed to translate into higher productivity. Ninety-six percent of employees who use six or more cloud apps said they felt productive at work, compared to 77 percent of non-app users. This isn't surprising, as the cloud allows folks to access work-related data any time and anywhere they have Internet access. It's now possible to knock out work tasks in formerly unproductive settings such as commuting on a train to and from the office. (It is not OK, however, to try to squeeze in some work tasks while driving!)
Heavier users of cloud apps also reported enjoying an optimal work-life balance, with 85 percent of people using six or more apps feeling that way, vs. 75 percent of those who use one to five apps and 59 percent of non-app users. Again, cloud apps, which facilitate working remotely, make it easier for employees to tweak their schedules to accommodate personal as well as professional tasks. Mirroring these results, 20 percent of employees who worked remotely said their boss controlled their work-life balance, according to an earlier survey from the Flex +Strategy Group, compared to 42 percent of those who worked in traditional office settings.
The Softchoice survey also found an overlap between happiness at work and employees' ability to choose their own applications, a trend often called BYOA (bring your own apps). Among those who are happy at work, 63 percent get to choose apps, compared to 37 percent of their not-so-happy coworkers.
From an employer's perspective, however, BYOA can present security and compliance concerns. Softchoice found that employees in the finance and health care industries, who are subject to industry regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, are less likely than workers in the manufacturing and legal industries to be able to select their own apps.
What Employers Can Do
Softchoice also identified a few key ways that employers can help contribute to employee happiness.
A willingness to support cloud apps and an infrastructure capable of doing so are important, based on the apparent popularity of single sign-on technology, for example. Employees who use single sign-on for their cloud apps are three times more likely to be happy with their jobs (60 percent) than those without it (20 percent).
But perhaps nothing is more important than communication. Seventy-seven percent of workers whose employers clearly convey policies concerning cloud app usage are happy with their jobs, vs. just 23 percent of those who get no guidance from employers.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.