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April 17, 2020

Will Your Business Keep Remote Workforce After COVID-19 Crisis?

The COVID-19 outbreak forced industry leaders to leverage remote technologies to remain productive. For those that are focused on getting through the crisis or are still working feverishly to ramp out remote technologies, there seem to be only trees and no forest. But as an increased number of decision-makers settle into work-from-home strategies, the elephant in the room is: Will your business keep remote workers in place?

Are Remote Workforces the “New Normal?”

It’s unlikely HR departments would dispute that industries were already trending toward remote workers. Millennials and Gen Z professionals have repeatedly insisted they put a high value on offsite flexibility. According to surveys conducted by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, work-from-anywhere practices are a rising tide.

  • 159 percent remote workforce growth during the last 12 years
  • 91 percent growth over the last 10 years
  • 44 percent growth over the previous 5 years alone

The recent surge in online resources such as Microsoft (News - Alert) Teams and other products points to a certain degree of foot-dragging on the issue.

Are Industry Leaders Ready To Maintain Remote Capabilities?

Thought leaders recognize that the coronavirus pandemic left them little choice but to invest in remote technologies. It was either align with prevalent trends or shutter.

“Change and technology often scare people, but this crisis forced us to move out of our comfort zone,” Phillip Baumann of BoomTech, Inc. reportedly said. “In this case, they had no choice. Now that the ‘pain’ of change is gone, we’ll see a much more technologically advanced business environment.”

Baumann’s statement goes to the heart of the issues. It was not uncommon for organizations to shy away from Cloud-based systems due to upfront investment and cybersecurity myths. Now that they have gotten their feet wet, perspectives are likely to change if only based on need.

“I think a lot of businesses are learning that there is a need to be ready for the staff to work from home very quickly and as needed. We are going to see a big increase in cloud adoption and work from home benefits for employees,” Charles Lobert of Vision Computer Solutions reportedly said. “With the right systems in place, you can have them stay home. But, they can still work and be productive.”

Will Some Sectors Be Forced To Permanently Change?

In the midst of Stay at Home and Shelter in Place mandates, some industries suffered greater disruption than others. Those deemed essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies, among others, were able to keep their brick-and-mortar facilities open. Professions such as lending and accounting, for example, were able to leverage remote technologies successfully. However, others that suffered closures will need to consider remote strategies going forward.

“How will this affect the future: It will depend on the industry. Retail, hospitality, and other B2C companies that were the most impacted by the shutdown will be forever changed. Some won’t survive,” Evan Eakin of Elevate Services Group reportedly said. “Those that survive will accelerate their digital transformation strategies to direct revenue streams away from brick-and-mortar to digital channels.”

Such predictions continue to grow as the fallout from the disruption shows up on monthly balance sheets. Short-term government bailouts are, obviously, not going to rescue companies if COVID-19 persists. Business leaders are also tasked with developing disaster strategies that account for contagions.

“Most companies were not prepared for the technology burden of an event like this, nor were employees and managers adept at using technology tools to communicate while being remote. Companies need to be ready for a future that involves periods of forced WFH during certain times of the year. This requires budget and investment into the technology and security required to sustain operations and communication with all employees regardless of where they are located,” Kraft Technology Group president Don Baham reportedly said.

Although remote capabilities are now widely recognized as necessities, they also lead to reduced expenses and diverse talent pools. Work-from-home initiatives allow companies to hire talented people outside their commuter radius while minimizing office space and other costs.

“This is a huge opportunity for businesses to spend less on office space overhead and invest more on technology, enabling staff to communicate, collaborate, and thrive working from home or wherever they may be in the world,” Troy Drever of Pure I.T. reportedly said. “The opportunities are endless to allow businesses to shift their workforce globally to expand into markets never before considered.”

Perhaps Keith Heilveil of Advantage Industries best answers the question of whether remote workforces are the New Normal.

“When the quarantine is finally lifted, business leaders will recognize the value of the mobile/remote workforce. This will accelerate the adoption of: virtual private networks (VPN), multi-factor authentication (MFA (News - Alert)) hosted voice & cloud services along with remote collaborate tools,” Heilveil reportedly said. “All this means, having a partner with deep expertise in virtualization, collaboration, and security will be the difference between a thriving organization and a failed one.”

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