The rush to remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic spurred business investments in technologies to enable a remote workforce and keep businesses operating during the crisis. Now that companies are rethinking of a hybrid workforce, its interesting to understand what the future holds for the enterprise. To have a better understanding of the future workplace trends and challenges, Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) surveyed 414 IT professionals globally and brings out some interesting aspects on the future workplace.
In a July 2020 SWZD study, the firm recorded that 16% of the workforce was remote before COVID-19 and that 61% of the overall workforce went remote at the height of the public health crisis. The latest research indicates that once it’s eventually safe for workers to go back into the office, 25% of the workforce will be remote. In other words, a quarter of the workforce working partially or completely remote (6%) from home means this is far from a passing trend: It’s here to stay in a meaningful way.
Areas for Improvement
While some aspects of business response to COVID-19 went well, there are several areas where leadership could have done better. In terms of providing clear guidance to employees, many businesses had shortcomings.
Among businesses that allowed remote work, less than 46% had a clear policy on who could work remotely or not and 32% clearly communicated long term remote work plans. Again only 16% employed someone whose primary role is to enable remote work and less than 12% reimburse workers for internet connectivity.
As the pandemic has continued, nearly every company has faced a great deal of pain. According to our data, the departments most impacted by the COVID-19 downturn included supply chain, operations, and sales. Countless news stories corroborated this finding as they reported on a global recession, shortages on everything from computer chips to toilet paper to lumber, and organizations scrambling to stay afloat during lean times.
But as we plan to eventually emerge from the pandemic, some good has come out of the hardship we faced in 2020 and continue to deal with. Many organizations and the global workforce have seen benefits come out of lockdown.
For example, among survey respondents in the study:
- 57% said COVID-19 resulted in improved workplace flexibility
- 42% said the pandemic accelerated innovation or digital transformation
- 34% said the pandemic strengthened communication and collaboration
- 28% of companies that allow it said morale improved due to remote work