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Why everyone should consider a life in the clouds

How working in the clouds can benefit us

The recent covid pandemic brought the office world to a standstill. It has devastated economies and ruined lives. Ironically: the closed atmosphere of an office contributed to its spread.

Cloud computing can help to mitigate the effects of future pandemics, but that’s only one of the benefits. Increased productivity, greater employee wellbeing, and positive environmental effects, can also be added to the mix.

Traditionally: simply getting staff to work on time was littered with obstacles

    Work routine obstacles

  • Child sickness
  • School holidsys
  • Traffic
  • weather
  • Vehicle maintenance

Now we can begin to understand why the ability to work from home can help everyone, we have one more hurdle to overcome: which cloud service should we use?

Can I survive without Microsoft office?

If you think that life without Microsoft Office is unlivable, there are many who think the opposite. With the advent of cloud computing, desktop programs for creating and editing files are quickly following the path of the dodo.

I used to live under the delusion that the office world revolved around Microsoft, now I realize anything Microsoft can do, can be done better. It was purely down to their calamity prone software in the first place that I became familiar with cloud computing.

My working life became better the moment I switched. Not long after, I ditched Microsoft completely and switched to a Linux operating system, but that’s a story for another day.

What is cloud computing?

Imagine having a computer that followed you around wherever you go and you’re almost there. All your files accessible from any device, sort of a mobile desktop. No need to carry files around on a usb and having to update them on every device.

This itself gives office workers the flexibility to work from anywhere and at any time. The ability to have multiple people working on the document, only adds to the pleasure of cloud computing.

All files are created and edited in the browser, then stored safely on some distant server.

The not so subtle difference between cloud storage and cloud computing is that computing provides all the necessary apps to create and then automatically store files, whereas storage is merely a means of storing files created in another application.

Cloud services: what’s on offer?

The two big players in the world of cloud computing are Google, with their Drive and Workspace, and Microsoft with their Office 365.

It was only when I compared the Google and Microsoft Office approaches that I realized how backwards Windows actually was and how much unnecessary complexity they added to their entire structure. This made choosing Google’s cloud service a no brainer.

Besides the user friendliness of Google’s offering, I’ve had my fingers burned by Micrpsoft too many times in the past to give any of their services serious consideration. They’ll lure in and then bleed you dry should want anything near the functionality that Google provides in even their most basic business plan.

A fundamental feature of Google Drive and Workspace, the business version, is the ability to share files. Settings allow us to give others “View only” or “Edit” privileges. Previously: we would have to email them back and forth.

Now we only need to share the link, then we can watch as they edit the file, or edit it together. Changes appear instantly. All previous edits can be viewed and undone. We can also see who made the edits.

Even the view only mode offers a considerable amount of time saving. Let’s have a look at one common scenario.

Imagine you’re working on a project as part of a team. You send a memorandum as an email, or attachment and then realize it needs updating. You now have to resend the email.

Now let’s use the smart approach: Create a group and add your team members' email addresses. The group will have its own email address. Create your memorandum and share it with the group.

Each member receives notification and a link to the file. If you then decide to update the file, they only see the updated version.

The above process can be done with an entire folder, such as a project folder that a team is working on, not just a single file.

Google Drive and Workspace differences

Google Drive

Anyone with a Gmail account has access to Drive, here they can create, store, and access files as outlined above. Documents, slides, spreadsheets and drawings are all a button click away.

Upon using Drive for the first time, you’ll notice one glaring omission, the “Save” button. Drive automatically saves files at almost every keystroke.

Microsoft files can be uploaded and converted to Drive files. Likewise: Drive files can be downloaded as Office files.

Drive files are essentially webpages, with the owner determining who has access to them. Ranging from just themselves to the entire world.

Why Google Workspace makes sense

The first thing you’ll notice about Workspace is that everyone gets their own email address linked to the main account, such as me@mybusiness.com. Workspace isn’t free, it costs from $6 per user per month.

Even if you’re a sole proprietor, with no other users, having upto 30 professional looking email addresses is worth the $6 cost.

Considering travel and office maintenance expenses, this cost can be quickly recouped. Dare I also mention the environmental benefits.

Even out of the box, both Drive and Workspace apps have an abundance of features, but there’s more to come. Functionality can be extended with addons, many of them free from the Workspace marketplace. Alternatively: you could create your own or hire a developer.

Workspace admins

Admins get access to the control panel, where they can create and delete accounts, sub divisions. and reset passwords. They also determine which of Google’s services are turned on and off.

Super admins can create admins and set their privileges and restrictions. I would recommend each company has at least two super admins, or at least one super admin and several admins with almost the same amount of privileges as a super.

By default: emails and sharing can be done by sending a single email to everyone in the organization. Admins can create departments from which it is easier to create groups and contact each group using a single email address. There’s no limit to the number of sub organizations an account can have.