You only need look at the explosive growth of services like Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce for evidence of the business trend towards cloud computing. This raises a fundamental question: how can a business maximize the cloud’s benefits while minimizing or eliminating its drawbacks?

Perhaps the biggest advantage the cloud gives an organization is tied directly to its most important asset: employees. By leveraging the possibilities for remote work and more flexible hours inherent in cloud-based computing, it’s possible to keep staff both happier and more productive – all at little to no cost.

A study in the Harvard Business Review found that call center workers who switched to a work-from-home model experienced a 13.5 percent increase in productivity compared to their in-office peers. They also reported much higher job satisfaction and quit at half the rate. Nicholas Bloom, one of the authors of the study, argues that remote work and flexible hours can give an organization an edge by allowing them to attract better talent from a wider pool by removing geographic and other barriers.

Bloom gives the example of a low-cost airline: “JetBlue allows folks to work as far as three hours from headquarters – close enough to come in now and again but a much bigger radius from which it can draw applicants. When I asked the people at JetBlue about this policy, they said it helped them gain access to educated, high-ability mothers who wanted flexibility in their jobs. The airline believes this policy has improved the quality of its workforce.”

The cloud-based services also allow for easier and more fluid coordination and communication among staff, contractors and clients. Rather than working on multiple versions of the same document, team members in different locations can now work on one version, cutting confusion and ensuring better document control.

The lesson here is that an organization transitioning to the cloud should carefully consider the advantages to staff.

The shift to the cloud offers another huge plus: operational agility and capacity. Need more or less server or storage space? What about employee access to an application? Scaling capacity up or down is simply a matter of co-ordinating with your vendor rather than purchasing, installing and implementing expensive IT hardware and software on-site. Backup and recovery are also simplified. Finally, the infrastructure, platform and service options that cloud computing offers make things like implementation relatively easy.

The takeaway is to carefully consider how to make the cloud work for your organization.