The Remote Working Pendulum & the IT Industry Response

TBT Marketing is Future Focused, so when we consider the COVID-19 pandemic, we think about what has changed AND how are things likely to evolve as we ride the remote working pendulum during these challenging times.

Nothing in living memory has impacted the world in quite the way that COVID-19 pandemic has. There have been numerous other global incidents such as recessions and depressions. Tragic as these incidents were, none have had the sudden global impact that COVID-19 has had. However, on a more positive note, it has been encouraging to see how quickly the world continues to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and, in particular, the supporting role IT is playing.

In conversations with our major global IT clients, I have observed the following trends, many were already in play but have since been quickly accelerated by the pandemic. With severe restrictions on travel and social distancing in place we have seen the increased demand for the following;

Cloud computing

Consuming compute resource that is managed by your cloud provider, located remotely in highly automated datacentres, frees staff from having to worry about managing IT infrastructure. Instead, staff can concentrate on keeping the business running and adapting it to the new environment. Another advantage of cloud computing is the ability to scale capacity up or down. With on-demand and the pay-per-use billing aligning costs closely with actual business activity. Some businesses have seen a dramatic decline in demand whilst others have seen increased demand, either way, cloud computing helps companies manage these fluctuations through turbulent times.

‘as a Service’ (aaS) offerings

Whilst the cloud provides many benefits as outlined above, it is not the answer to every problem. Companies often want to retain some or all their IT infrastructure on-premises or at least under their control such as ‘co-lo’. This could be for reasons of control, performance, security or confidentiality. Traditional IT infrastructure players are increasingly providing aaS offerings, allowing clients to enjoy the benefits of on-premise but with cloud-like economics. As an example, Antonio Neri, HPE CEO, has stated,

(HPE is performing) a strategic pivot to offering everything as-a-Service to drive sustainable, profitable growth”

Whilst this has been a general move over the last year or so, there has now been a notable recent focus on solutions such as VDI that enable Knowledge Workers to safely and securely work from home and with the same capabilities that they enjoy in the office.

Collaboration platforms and video conferencing tools

These have seen explosive growth, Zoom has gone from 10 million users in December to 300 million in April, with Microsoft Teams now seeing more than 75 million daily active users on the platform. Many employers and employees have realised how much can still be efficiently accomplished by remote working. I expect many of these tools will still be used once the pandemic has passed. Indeed, having recently spoken with several front-line healthcare workers, whilst initially hesitant about the use of video conferencing in their profession, all of them stated their surprise in how effective it is and how they'll continue to use when appropriate in the future.

Whilst the remote working pendulum has swung fully over to home working, I am sure it will swing back to some middle ground over time. It is one thing to work fully from home during a crisis but another to keep it up over a sustained period. Consider, it was already predicted that 50% of the UK workforce would be remote working by 2020, I imagine that the global pandemic will be the catalyst for a much higher percentage in the "New Normal".

Therefore, the demand for technology to support collaboration, social interaction (both formal and the informal "water cooler" norms of office life), plus the need for focus and flexibility, means, the tech we've embraced during 'lockdown' to improve the work/life balance is not going anywhere.

Similarly, working remotely when one already has established personal relationships with colleagues and clients is one thing, but something else completely if that is not the case. My personal view is that in the medium term many will balance working some of the working week from home and some from the office, hopefully providing the best of both worlds.

IT infrastructure in 2021 and beyond should be designed to support hybrid remote and in-office environments seamlessly with solutions such as VDI and cloud computing. Edge computing and 5G will further build on this trend.

Look out for further updates and please reach out if you want help connecting with your clients in these turbulent times.

Call us now on +44 (0)1373 469270 or email us at [email protected].

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