Enterprise Strategy Group Study Finds Knowledge Workers’ Desire to Return to the Office is Directly Correlated to Personal View of COVID-19 Risk

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New survey of US businesses examines the current and future impact of COVID-19 on digital work patterns and enterprise technology plans; Younger workers report both greater concern over health risks and higher interest in working from home.

Enterprise Strategy Group Study Finds Knowledge Workers’ Desire to Return to the Office is Directly Correlated to Personal View of COVID-19 Risk

Just 36% of knowledge workers who are “extremely concerned” about their personal health and safety due to COVID-19 say they would prefer to return to the office compared to 49% of respondents who are “not that concerned” or “not at all concerned” with their personal health risk.

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a leading technology analyst, research, and strategy firm, today released new research on the impact of COVID-19-related work disruptions on medium and large businesses and their employees.

Based on a survey of 500 senior IT leaders and more than 1,000 full-time knowledge workers, The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Remote Work, 2020 IT Spending, and Future Tech Strategies combines the perspective of those employees now working at home as well as the technology organizations tasked with enabling them.

Among the report’s key findings: Workers’ desire to return to an office environment is directly correlated with their level of concern over their personal COVID-19 health risk. Just 36% of knowledge workers who are “extremely concerned” about their personal health and safety due to COVID-19 say they would prefer to return to the office compared to 49% of respondents who are “not that concerned” or “not at all concerned” with their personal health risk.

“As businesses contemplate returning workers to the office, they will clearly have to accommodate different levels of risk tolerance among their workforce,” said John McKnight, Executive Vice President of Research and Analyst Services at ESG. “Our research finds that most workers believe they are working productively at home and as a result, 57% would like to increase their level of remote work in the future. This percentage increases to 64% among those that are extremely concerned about COVID-19 health risks and drops to 51% among those workers who are not as concerned. Interestingly, this pattern was more pronounced among younger workers: Among workers 45 and under, 70% of those that are extremely concerned about COVID-19 health risks want to work from home more frequently, compared to just 55% of employees over 45 who share the same level of concern. This suggests that, whether driven by an increased level of comfort with remote work tools and processes, an increased level of concern over COVID-19 health risks, or a combination of both, younger workers may in fact be those most reluctant to return to a traditional office environment.”

In addition to assessing the experience of businesses and their employees over the past 90 days during the transition to mass work from home, The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Remote Work, 2020 IT Spending, and Future Tech Strategies also examines the impact of COVID-19 on enterprise IT strategies and investment priorities for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. The report focuses on three main areas:

1. The shift to work from home

  • Balancing work and home responsibilities and managing physical space shortcomings are the biggest challenges for workers. Connectivity and training top the list of technology-related issues. 40% of knowledge workers say that their internet connection at home is worse than at their office, creating challenges around bandwidth contention and performance issues for collaboration tools and other apps. 1 out of 3 workers (33%) don’t agree that they were given the right level of instruction on how to work safely and efficiently from home.
  • Security and network issues top the list of remote work challenges for businesses. Nearly one half of organizations (47%) report an increase in cyberattacks since mass remote work began.

2. The impact to 2020 technology spending

  • 1 in 3 organizations will reduce their original 2020 tech spending. 33% of organizations surveyed expect to spend less on technology than they originally planned for CY2020; however, the negative impact on overall tech spending will be muted by the fact that 23% of organizations plan to increase their spending in order to enable remote work and/or support pandemic-related business growth.
  • Companies report increased spending on cybersecurity, remote work solutions, and cloud services. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of US organizations say that they expect to increase their cybersecurity spending above and beyond their original 2020 budget. 35% will do so for remote work/collaboration solutions and 29% expect an increase in spending for public cloud infrastructure services.

3. The longer-term impact to enterprise tech and digital work

  • Business will turn (more) to the cloud. 40% of organizations say they will use more public cloud services to replace on-premises data center infrastructure in light of their COVID-19 experience.
  • COVID-19 is accelerating digital collaboration literacy. 30% of IT executives believe that the ability of workers to effectively incorporate online collaboration tools into daily work patterns will be the most significant lasting change of the COVID-19 pandemic from a technology perspective.

For more takeaways from the research or to download the report, please visit ESG’s website.

About ESG

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) is an integrated technology analyst, research, and strategy firm providing market intelligence and actionable insight to the global technology community. ESG is increasingly recognized as one of the world’s leading and most influential independent analyst firms.

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