Are you a cloudworker?

18 Dec 2008

If you work beyond the office, on the move or at home, you are deemed to be a ‘cloudworker’, according to the winning entrant in a contest to describe remote workers.

The winning submission in a contest organised by Plantronics described a cloudworker as “somebody who uses on-demand technology and collaboration tools, such as unified communications, to work anywhere and anytime, and uses the resulting freedom to enable a my-size-fits-me career path and lifestyle.”

The metaphor of the cloud extends well beyond cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) applications to include work environments, distributed teams and communication tools.

Today, telecommuting means much more than it did in 1973, when the term was born. It’s no longer just about replacing a daily office commute with telecommunication links.

Rather, it now involves working from several locations in one day, including from home; communicating on multiple devices and with multiple applications; integrating work and personal life; and providing 24×7, ‘always on’ service to customers. 

For the Plantronics TeleWho? Contest, a panel of telecommuting and workplace experts – including analysts, media and bloggers – selected 10 finalists from a pool of approximately 500 submissions. These 10 were selected based on their originality, relevance and lasting impact. Public online voting took place over a two-week period, and nearly 2,200 votes were cast. ‘Cloudworker’ won with 27.5pc of the vote.

Venkatesh Rao, a blogger at and research scientist at a Fortune 500 company, who divides his time between Rochester, NY and Washington DC, submitted the winning term. For his creativity and ingenuity, he will be receiving approximately US$2,000 in communication and audio entertainment prizes.

“I’ve been blogging about and researching the future of work for a while now, and personally living the cloudworker lifestyle for years, but I didn’t think to put a name to it until I saw the Plantronics contest,” said Rao.

“It is amazing how changing a single word can completely reframe how you think about a big subject. Once I started thinking in terms of ‘cloudworker,’ so many ideas came flooding into my head that I ended up starting a series of blog articles, which really seemed to resonate with my readers. I hope the word triggers an equally stimulating shift in perspective for others.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years