The future of work is evolving at a rapid pace, and flexibility is at the forefront of the transformation. We’re talking about the ability to work anywhere, anytime, and from any device because technology enables a secure, integrated, and efficient way to work—not simply because company policy allows for flexibility in schedule or location.

True flexibility enables collaboration, removes workflow roadblocks, and transforms how we interact with our physical environments, both in-office and elsewhere. The result is a seamless, intuitive way to work that increases productivity and engagement without compromise.

The findings from our recent survey with Wakefield Research confirm this reality: while about a quarter (27%) of office professionals without a flexible work environment are concerned that implementing one would decrease productivity, half of those (50%) who do work in a flexible work environment note it has increased productivity. In addition, 87% of office professionals whose company has a flexible work environment report their company has experienced positive outcomes from the model.

The benefits of the cloud are grand and plenty, but let’s get specific with the flexibility benefits of cloud-based apps from end-user, business, and IT admin perspectives.

The end-user perspective

Rewind to the days when workers were tethered to their physical workstations. Using a Windows app for work meant, without exception, being at a desk and on the company network. When work could only be performed in a traditional setting, these tentacles of these limitations wended their way into employees’ work-life balance too.

Fast forward to today, when we’re moving to an IT environment that assumes workers are rarely, if ever, on the corporate network—even when they’re at work. The cloud ensures that workers have the same, total level of access to apps wherever they are.

The implications are huge. People can work around the demands of caring for their children or elderly parents, appointments, travel, or whatever else life throws at them. It’s hard to imagine work-life balance as more than a concept before real workplace flexibility existed.

Beyond personal convenience, cloud-based apps revolutionize the way we can cross-team and collaborate with our coworkers. We can pick up our work, on any device, and quickly join a meeting or working session in a shared space. Smart workspaces make this even easier by automatically starting virtual meetings, so workers can focus on work instead of trying to get things to work.

By now you can probably see why cloud-based apps increase productivity and engagement, but we’re just getting started.

The business perspective

When employees are more productive and engaged, of course, businesses benefit too. However, the benefits of using cloud-based apps go beyond just the “nice-to-haves.” In fact, three in four (75%) office professionals believe that in five years, businesses with flexible work environments will not be competitive without using cloud-based apps.

The need to move to a flexible work model doesn’t stop there. Among office professionals from companies that do not use cloud-based apps, there is a belief that their company would increase efficiency (43%), improve accuracy (17%), product quality (17%), and creativity (17%) by adopting them. In an ever-advancing competitive arena, there’s really no time to waste. It takes time to implement a flexible work model, and even more time to make it a success.

Cloud-based apps provide employers with several more explicit benefits. For starters, flexibility decreases the amount of sick time employees take. People can work while resting, and keep germs out of the office—it’s a win for everyone. The same goes for minimizing time spent offline while working around appointments, kids, and other factors in a hectic schedule.

Employers are empowered to make more efficient use of physical resources and allocations while avoiding the many costs and security risks that spiral from complexity.

Cloud-based apps also provide the organizations themselves with flexibility. The cloud lets organizations move to business models that don’t require making all the investments up front. This allows them to scale their investments and modify usage as the need arises, enable workforce productivity, and remove the “all-or-nothing” barrier that often inhibits innovation.

But who’s the most psyched about cloud-based apps? One might argue it’s…

The IT admin

Back in the day, software releases used to come out every year or two with a load of new features. IT had to independently test each release for all devices and systems in the organization. Rolling out new or updated apps to the user base depended on elaborate, tedious programs. IT admins were spending a lot of time on project management tasks.

Today, cloud-based apps are constantly refreshed with new features and users get access to these immediately. Talk about a positive change!

This level of flexibility has shifted the frequency and nature of support desk calls. Support spends far less time getting an application to work (period), and can focus on teaching users how to use it and how to make the best use of it!

When IT is given the right tools and tech to empower the organization, they spend less time worrying about the infrastructure and more time engaging users to perform at their best.

Achieve unified, flexible, and secure access to apps

The importance of granting easy access to all the apps, tools, and files employees need to work is clear. However, even companies with flexible work environments still struggle to enable employees to get everything they need from one place. The need for different logins, identities, and passwords across apps and tools causes productivity dips and security gaps. Nobody likes cloud sprawl.

Citrix eliminates these pain points by unifying all apps, data, and services in the cloud through a secure digital workspace—complete with powerful insights from advanced analytics. Most importantly, the user experience doesn’t come at the expense of security, which is at the very center of this unified approach. One log-in gives users everything they need, IT’s job is simplified, and businesses reap the rewards of engaged, productive employees. Cloud-based apps aren’t just a business strategy, but a solution to stay ahead in a ruthlessly competitive arena.

Simply put, the future of work is flexible. The cloud is here to stay.