Welcome to our brief glance back at some of the most interesting trends and predictions for remote work that we've come across over the past month. And if you're not already doing so, be sure to join us every Friday for our “This Week in Remote Work” posts, where we recap the top remote work stories of the week.
As we start to round the corner into a new year, the figures and analyses we're seeing paint a pretty definitive picture for what IT departments and CTOs can expect in 2021.
Forrester predicts remote work will increase by 300% compared to pre-pandemic levels
At the tail end of October, Forrester published its 2021 predictions for the year ahead. Among the dynamics that they saw as having the most impact on firms in the coming year, remote work ranked in the top three along with HR technology and automation. (I highly recommend checking out the full Forrester guide. You can download it here.)
Specifically, a Forrester analyst had this to say:
"While there is no clear end point to the pandemic yet, the number of employees working remotely will begin to dwindle, eventually settling in at 300% of pre-pandemic levels at the minimum."
Although the word "dwindle" doesn't really capture what's ultimately a threefold increase, you still get the idea. The record numbers of permanent remote workers that we're seeing during the pandemic will fall from their current highs. But that will be nowhere close to the status quo that we saw before the arrival of COVID-19.
And most organizations will end up having some type of hybrid model where people come into an office part of the time, and work from home part of the time - so IT will still need to ensure those hybrid workers have access to all of their critical apps and systems on the days they work from home. Which leads us to our next stat...
Only 13% of companies are planning to return to a fully onsite workforce by 2022
Now that the viability of remote work is established, more companies than ever are acknowledging that it's here to stay. According to the 2019 Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index report, just over one-quarter (26%) of companies had zero employees working remotely full-time.
One year on, that figure has changed significantly. Just 7% of the more than 3,000 IT decision makers surveyed for the latest Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index said their companies have had no full-time employees working from home during the pandemic. And only 13% have resolved to stay that way by 2022.
In other words, global events, changing attitudes and the rise of digital workspace solutions have halved the number of companies that are still committed to no full-time remote employees. That's a huge shift in mindset over a very short period of time.
IT departments are clearly going to have to adapt to permanent work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid workplace models. That's probably why close to half of the IT leaders in Nutanix's report said that their priorities over the next 12 to 18 months will be improving their systems and supporting WFH capabilities.
Post-pandemic, 56% of workers would switch jobs to keep working remotely
Employers aren't the only ones who are banking on remote work being more commonplace. According to a survey of 602 full-time workers conducted by one desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) tech company, more than half (56%) of the respondents said they were planning to switch jobs if their employer didn't allow remote work after the pandemic.
That shows how much employees' attitudes have changed over the past eight months. What was once a perk is now looking more like a basic criterion for choosing a job. That's something companies will have to bear in mind when they're hiring.
Some other interesting factoids from that survey, summarized here by Forbes:
- Almost all (97%) said they'd taken necessary steps to stay equally focused while working remotely. That puts some fears over WFH productivity to rest, although those employees will still need the right solutions to stay productive.
- Well over half (63%) of the respondents warmed to the idea of self-employment during the pandemic; of those, 87% cited schedule flexibility as the main reason.
- Of the full-time workers surveyed, 85% were intrigued by the idea of becoming a "digital nomad."
By the end of 2021, 80% of enterprises will accelerate their shift to a cloud-centric infrastructure
When IDC looked into its data-driven crystal ball, it saw that 8 out of every 10 enterprise-scale organizations would have some kind of mechanism in place to double their pre-pandemic rate of cloud migration by the end of 2021. That means they'll be adopting cloud-centric infrastructure and applications twice as fast as they did nine months ago.
The reason for that isn't surprising. The pandemic has exposed serious shortcomings in the resiliency, flexibility and scalability of many workplaces. To remain competitive and productive, they're having to re-evaluate their legacy software and figure out how to adapt it to a dynamic, distributed workforce.
In fact, IDC predicts that in 2022 digitally resilient enterprises will be 50% faster in responding to new conditions than their peers who just focus on maintaining the status quo.
What about you? Which of these remote work trends are you seeing play out in your own company? Were there any other remote work stats that caught your eye in November? Feel free to bring them to our attention in the comments below.