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Get ready to work in the cloud

Daily Ticker

Everything is moving to the cloud these days -- including, possibly, your job.

One-third of U.S. workers are indpendent contractors, up from a mere 6% 25 years ago. And the need for a physical workplace is becoming extinct, says Tim Houlne, CEO of Working Solutions and author of The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud. Working Solutions, a call-center operator based in Plano, Texas, employs about 5,000 agents across the country who all work from home. Houlne says the following three trends have encouraged more companies to hire workers who can log in from anywhere and work in the cloud:

Work is being fractionalized. Companies increasingly split projects among employees, allowing one to pick up where another left off.

Careers are being virtualized. A decent computer setup and a broadband connection are all many workers need to get the job done, allowing more people to work from home and more companies to shave the costs of maintaining an office.

Talent is globalized. Many companies can hire workers wherever they want, allowing them to find the skilled workers they need at costs they can afford.

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While working at home sounds convenient to some people, it comes with tradeoffs. Kids, pets, spouses and neighbors can be distracting. Working without colleagues nearby can be isolating. Some workers need the discipline that a daily commute and office routines provide, lest they end up shopping on Amazon all day or watching cat videos.

A virtual workforce can also give employers more leverage to cut pay and benefits, a trend that workers may have little ability to prevent. Houlne suggests people try to exploit the freedom working in the cloud can offer.

"A worker can now monetize his or her skill set in a virtual environment," he explains in the video above. "The world is social, it's mobile, it's digital. We think it is a very good thing."

While the virtual workforce seems certain to grow, cubicle culture will continue to be the norm in some businesses. The cloud can't substitute for meeting with clients in person or doing certain types of hands-on work. Some bosses simply prefer to see their employees. And some CEOs, especially in the technology businesses, feel personal interaction in the office fosters innovation by allowing workers to exchange ideas and cross-pollinate.

Related: The trick to multitasking better

Still, with intense pressure to cut costs in many industries, most companies that can move workers to the cloud probably will. Houlne says his employees actually prefer working in the cloud -- the flexibility in terms of hours and projects was the No. 1 reason why agents stick with the company.

How should employees prepare for this virtual environment? Watch the video to find out!

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