Three Ways the Cloud Empowers Today’s Transition to Hybrid Work for Small and Medium Businesses

by Anna Green | on

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the globe, a majority of organizations were forced into the world’s largest “work-from-home” experiment. Fast forward to present day and it’s clear that the traditional office environment is gone; the future is hybrid or remote work.

A transnational employee survey revealed that nearly eight in 10 workers prefer location flexibility, whether it’s working from home, the office, or at any location of their choice. Clearly, there is a new “norm” that companies must adapt to if they want to retain and attract the best talent. What’s more, 75 percent of remote or knowledge workers says that their expectations for working flexibly have increased, with four out of 10 indicating they may leave their jobs if they’re required to return to the office.

While the hybrid or remote working model is here to stay, some small and medium businesses (SMBs) continue to struggle with remote work . Security, remote IT support, and unreliable networks continue to be significant technology challenges in managing remote workers. Remote IT support is an especially acute inhibitor for 46% of small businesses . As a result, only 11% have a hybrid first mindset , and 37% believe they have mature, remote work practices.

As we transition out of the pandemic, SMBs are turning to the cloud to support a hybrid workplace. The use of video conferencing technology is the more prevalent sign of SMBs adopting cloud solutions. But there’s more to the cloud than virtual meeting solutions. Cloud services enable remote employees with secure access to corporate resources from anywhere, ensures corporate content can remain secure , and provides tools to remotely share and collaborate on documents inside and outside the organization.

Businesses have the opportunity to think of remote work as more than just offering increased flexibility to employees. It gives you the chance to improve on how your business fundamentally goes about operating by rethinking certain business tools and processes.

In this blog, I will delve into three ways that progressive SMBs are leveraging Amazon Web Services to overcome common challenges with remote work and transforming workforce productivity.

1. Agility: Flipping the switch on remote work

No one can predict with certainty when the next global pandemic will occur. However, with the right infrastructure stack, companies can stay agile to meet evolving business needs.

Take Kyowa Kirin , a Japanese specialty pharmaceutical company specializing in technology-driven drug discovery. Because they had gradually moved their technology infrastructure to the cloud over the years, the SMB pharma firm needed only a week to add 300–400 virtual desktops when COVID-19 lockdowns began, bringing the total number of homebound employees with remote work access to 1,600 across the U.S. and Japan.

As a result, Kyowa Kirin reduced any disruption to its business and productivity. More importantly, the pharma firm’s decision, pre-pandemic, to migrate its on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure to Amazon WorkSpaces —a virtual desktop solution that gives remote employees a fast, responsive desktop experience from any internet connected device—has led to a 30 percent cost reduction .

Takayuki Kusumoto, manager of the ICT solutions department at Kyowa Kirin, says, “The COVID-19 pandemic made us recognize the value of Amazon WorkSpaces. Users could continue to use their desktop environment from their homes and work without any major confusion.”

At present, Kyowa Kirin no longer need to allocate vast amounts of capital expenditures and time-intensive planning to accurately predict and cope with unknown future scenarios. Their shift to the Amazon Web Services Cloud now offers the agility and cost-effectiveness required to scale remote work. 

Woman working from home office in front of monitor video chatting with teammates

2. Cybersecurity: More devices, more security needs

Despite the flexibility and business continuity afforded by remote work, there are still some risks. One of which, is cybersecurity. As more people work remotely, the number of devices to protect increases. This surge presents unique challenges for security—issues SMBs face whether or not they have in-house IT staff. With a geographically distributed workforce, they need to make sure they can install, manage, and support security products remotely.

For Acuity Knowledge Partners , an India-based provider of high-value research, analytics, and business intelligence to the financial services sector, managing data security represented a serious risk during its most recent remote work transition: The firm’s analysts had historically been unable to work outside the office due to non-comprehensive security controls.

Sridhar Damala, Acuity’s chief technology officer shares, “The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about how we were operating. To seek permission to work remotely, we had to go to each client with a specific set of data security controls in place for how we would protect their information. We found that WorkSpaces had the answers.”

WorkSpaces made these “answers” a reality. Acuity was able to transition 1,100 employees across the globe to virtual desktops in a secure and compliant manner within three weeks.

New to digitization or looking to add more cloud capabilities to your SMB? Explore solutions by industry, benefit, use case, and more on Amazon Web Services Smart Business

3. Unlocking scalability and collaboration

While cybersecurity has become a necessity for SMBs transitioning to remote and/or hybrid work environments, businesses also require the added scalability , reliability , and performance associated with a cloud computing solution to function optimally.

One such company is The LOTE Agency (LOTE)—an Australian multicultural research and communications agency—whose work includes video editing and the creation of marketing artifacts, both of which are compute- and storage-intensive. By migrating its legacy on-premises systems to Amazon Web Services, LOTE gained a secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure that can easily scale to accommodate the agency’s demanding workloads in whichever locations their employees are based.

David Bartlett, general manager at LOTE, talks about how the company’s move to Amazon Web Services has unlocked collaborative fluidity. Bartlett says, “I told the staff not to come into the office one night, and we were still working at 100 percent the next morning. We didn’t miss a beat, and we could only do that because of what we had set up with Amazon Web Services.”

He continues, “Our multicultural subject matter expert in Dubai can securely work with data that sits in one of our Australian datacenters. She does not have to store files locally when we’re working within the Amazon Web Services environment. This flexibility has helped us expand and grow.”

Needless to say, because of its underlying Amazon Web Services Cloud architecture, LOTE faced few difficulties in enabling employee secure access to its system during COVID-19 lockdowns. The company even went on to clinch a sizeable contract from the Australian government to assist with the vaccine rollout, thanks to its improved security posture.

Amazon Web Services solutions for remote work

In the examples above, you have seen how easily companies can scale their Amazon Web Services Cloud infrastructure to accommodate a fluctuating number of remote and/or hybrid work arrangements. The Amazon Web Services Cloud offers SMBs agility, security , scalability , and reliability , while keeping operating costs in check.

With Amazon Web Services, your employees, contact center agents, and creative professionals can work productively from virtually anywhere. To learn more, read our remote working for SMBs eBook or contact one of our Amazon Web Services experts .