What’s Wrong With Having Your Head in the Cloud?

This post was written as a guest blog and originally posted on the PatronManager site.

For many folks who work in the offices of an arts organization, there are a whole lot of details to keep track of: grant deadlines, ads and community calendar listings, pricing and promotions, website updates, rehearsal schedules, playbill listings, and let’s not forget all of those meetings. It’s enough to make your head spin!

I am rather known among my social circle for saying “I get so excited whenever I find a way to incorporate a new part of my life into Google.” For reference, I actively use Google’s Gmail, Calendar, Play Music, Maps, Photos, Fit, Keep, Wallet/Android Pay, Voice/Hangouts, and am of course writing this blog post in a Google Doc. I also recently spent an embarrassingly large portion of my future paychecks on purchasing a Pixel, Daydream, Home, and Chromecast Audio… To answer your question: no, I’m not ready to admit that I have a problem yet.

While Google is my cloud service of choice (clearly!) the reality is that I am excited anytime I can make my data accessible via the cloud. In my life before working at Patron, I was a box office manager. On a handful of occasions, I would get a call/text message from a staff member asking if they could take the day off. At this time, our schedule was saved in an Outlook calendar – this meant that it was not accessible from outside of the theatre. So when I was outside of work, unless I remembered the specifics of the schedule that week, I wasn’t entirely sure if another employee was going to be out that day, or if I would be able to call someone else in to cover that shift until I got into the office that morning.

To remedy that situation, I created two Google accounts, (I’ll explain why there are two in a second) and made a calendar for each employee. Giving each employee their own calendar allowed everyone to have their schedule on their phone or in their own Google account as soon as it was built. The reason it was set up in two separate accounts was to allow employees to log-in with read-only access and see the full schedule, but couldn’t accidentally pocket dial a hot-key and wipe out a week’s worth of events. Once that system was in place, I was able to check and edit the schedule whenever I needed to.

After seeing the light, I began to migrate more of my work projects into the cloud, at least during the brainstorming phase. To be honest, I was initially worried that this was going to affect my already non-existent work-life balance: if there was work to be done and it was accessible remotely, there was nothing to prevent me from working on it.

Counterintuitively, it had the opposite effect – having the option to address issues without being in the physical office, let me relax and actually enjoy my time outside of work more than before. Before this, if there was an issue which needed to be addressed quickly, I would need to either call into the office and walk a colleague through the process over the phone, or in a particularly troublesome situation, drive into the office on a day off and fix it. Once my work was readily accessible from outside the walls of the theatre, I was able to simply log in for a couple of minutes, make the edit needed and move on with my day.

Access to your data is one of the many benefits of the cloud. The more your organization commits to using these cloud-based tools, you’ll be able to use them to coordinate multiple schedules, collaborate on documents, or keep track of task progress with a number of project management apps. All of these tools allow you to store your work in a central and communal location.

The benefit of this is that you can spend less time trying to find “that document I emailed you last week,” and more time actually checking off items on your to-do list. Think about it, you might even be able to leave work on time!