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Firms expect nearly half of employees to be working from home by 2025

Global firms are increasingly putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting remote working, as research shows firm evidence of a continued new normal

Whether it is considered the ‘new normal’ or not may be a matter of semantics, but home working seems to be an unstoppable trend accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research from TCS.

The study, TCS Covid-19 business impact survey 2020, examined the impact of the pandemic on firms, especially as with regards to their digital readiness. It surveyed nearly 300 business leaders at global companies in North America, Europe and Asia in July across 11 industries to gain insight into how they were planning and managing the near- and long-term impacts of the pandemic. Out of those surveyed, 63% reported worldwide revenues of more than $5bn.

There were five stand-out findings. First, most firms were caught off guard by the outbreak, with most companies lacking essential digital capabilities such as being able to offer an end-to-end digital customer experience. Those that did have essential digital capabilities, labelled as leaders by the survey, were found to have held up better during the pandemic than those without, known as followers. And despite cash concerns, the majority of all executives were not reducing digital transformation (DX) budgets, but there was a significant lack of clarity on how to strategically move on multiple digital fronts cost-effectively.

The fifth standout finding was perhaps the most significant: remote employees had taken centre stage, and while shifting to work from home was not a big challenge, keeping remote workers agile, secure and productive was a huge task. The fear of remote workers being hacked was a major concern for IT security professionals. Additionally, just over two-fifths (43%) of companies found it difficult to manage key improvement projects with remote teams.

Firms were found to be increasingly putting their money where their mouths were when it came to supporting remote working. The survey noted that remote work is a new long-term norm, and nearly all organisations were investing to make sure it was productive and safe.

As an indication of the status and degree of importance of remote working, the amount of people working from home has spiked since before the pandemic and is projected to stay high. Only 9% of firms had employees primarily working from home before the pandemic and 64% during. This figure is set to be 40% by 2025.

Looking at the most common area of investment in the realm of remote working, the survey found that 65% of firms were investing in collaborative technologies, 56% in cyber security and 51% in cloud native technologies.

TCS predicted that about two-thirds of people who are currently working from home will be carrying on in this mode for the next five years. In terms of business areas that will pick up remote working, finance and banking came top with 44%, followed by energy (43%) and manufacturing (41%). Those in the Asian region are more likely to be working from home – as much as 45% of the average workforce – than Europeans (41%) and North Americans (37%).

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