Cloud computing is a term usually used to describe the proliferation of resources and services accessed through the internet. These resources (for example, Google maps; Google docs; Google Analytics; WordPress.com; online Adobe applications; your website host) in fact, any online service that happens “out there” – you don’t care where, as long as it works – is said to happen “in the cloud”.
Cloud commuting is not a term that has the same widespread understanding. For me the term cloud commuting means working from home.
Cloud computing has made cloud commuting possible with the availability of ever cheaper, faster and larger servers. Just think, whether you are reading at home or at work, how much of your digital life exists outside the computer you are using?
- Do you have a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail email address?
- Do you have your words and pictures stored in a social networking site?
- Do you use a website (your own or somebody else’s) for work?
My guess is that the answers to these questions are yes. And, if so, this means you are already outsourcing some of your digital life. This also means that you, if you aren’t already, can work at least some of the time at home.
Outsourcing has suffered from a slight misrepresentation as a practice of companies laying off workers in the west replacing them with cheaper services from the east.
Cloud commuting for me means people from all over the world breaking free from the corporate machine and setting up shop in their homes, providing high quality professional services for clients whilst, importantly, employing others to provide services for them. As Amanda O’Donovan says:
The Cloud Commuter is highly skilled, eco-friendly, doesn’t take up valuable office space and won’t be asking for health benefits… Why take the risk of committing to a permanent headcount when you can drink from the talent pool whenever you want to?
Personally, I feel liberated by becoming a cloud commuter. For one thing I don’t miss the mornings struggling onto crowded trains with thousands of other real world commuters. And then at work, I felt that my input was hampered by the structure of the company – you couldn’t do something until it was agreed by someone else. I liked to get things done. I wasn’t big on water cooler discussions, team building exercises and endless meetings.
The benefit of cloud commuting
The environment – it’s a no-brainer: less meaningless car, bus, train journeys. It’s a good thing.
Productivity – the cloud commuter immediately wins up to 2 hours a day by cutting out this pointless journey. And, the cloud commuter can concentrate better on work. Ever tried PHP coding in a busy office? Don’t.
The family – the cloud commuter spends more time with loved ones; less time with “the boss”. The family will usually benefit. OK, I know that there’s a potential pitfall here where the cloud commuter could be 24/7 locked away in the home office, continually stressed as not able to separate work from home life but this hasn’t been my experience.
The community – instead of living the false “double life” of the real world commuter who suffers the daily routine of traveling to the phony community, cloud commuters spends their time in the most important community – the one they live in. This will provide nicer neighborhoods for people to live in rather than neighborhoods for people to sleep in.
The disadvantage of cloud commuting
There’s one, but it’s a big one: security. Moving all your work to the clouds does compromise the information. The extent of this problem depends on the sensitivity of the files that you store in the cloud. Security should be set on a case by case basis but I would urge all cloud commuters to employ all the usual procedures: run regular back ups of everything and keep them away from where you work; run the latest updates of all the software you are using, and install and regularly update virus scanning software.
Cloud commuting and graphic design
To me, the business of graphic design and marketing lends itself perfectly to cloud commuting. We are often in the business of selling an idea not a physical product so we don’t actually have to be anywhere when we work. We just need to be near a computer with an internet connection.
Graphic designers work best when they are free to express themselves and unfettered by the corporate restraints of time, money and hierarchy.
Employ a cloud commuter to deliver a message, sell a product or re-design a website and you’ll have a enthusiastic, hard-working and experienced professional working for you – for a price that would compare very well to an agency’s for the same work!