Last week wasn’t great here in Yorkshire with levels of snow most of us had not seen before, but Refractiv maintained productivity with the help of cloud computing.

Last week we had to close the office for the second time in a year and even as this blog is written there are still staff working at home as the temperature drops to minus six degrees and the snow refuses to melt! But, for us, working at home really does mean working – all courtesy of “the cloud”, and not the type that the white stuff is falling from!

Wikipedia defines cloud computing as: “internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand”. In a nutshell, forget your servers and use a central service such as that provided by Google, then your team can access the info anywhere and on any device.

Cynics claim that productivity will fall due to staff having the TV on in the background, having a longer lunch break or even supervising kids due to school closures. That comes down to how much you trust your staff, but as a small team we all know what needs to be done and remote working allows tasks and timesheets to be completed as they would during a normal office day.

Of course we have a VPN so that our developers can access software on their PCs, but the real cloud-based working is enabled by Google Apps. As a committed user and reseller of Google Apps all our email and documents are available to employees wherever they are. Staff simply log in to their Google Apps account and, hey presto, email and all the company documents are available. Our CRM system is also available online, Capsule allows all employees to access our contact database from anywhere.

Obviously it’s not always practical to have employees working at home and there is no doubt that the office environment has its benefits, but we truly feel that the perception of a fixed workplace is out-dated. Maybe the challenges faced last week have moved the concept of working in the cloud one step closer for UK businesses. Here at Refractiv we are passionate about cloud based working, we couldn’t let a few inches (ok, maybe more than a few!) of snow get in our way now could we?!

If you want to learn more about how Google Apps can benefit your business, visit our Google Apps section.