Paradigm shift. Game-changing. Breakthrough. 

In the technology space, these terms are thrown around quite freely. But every now and again something will come along that merits the fanfare. For the enterprise community worldwide there has been no greater paradigm shift worthy of the name than that precipitated by the pandemic. Over a short period of a few days in March, entire workforces were forced to adapt to new methods of remote working while organisations fast-tracked digital transformation initiatives to drive growth. 

Over several days in March 2020, companies were forced to either tap into their existing work from home infrastructure in an unprecedented manner or quickly establish a framework that would facilitate such a transition. Irrespective of where companies sat on the ‘remote preparedness’ spectrum, they were all confronted with a myriad of challenges, not least, the disruption this move would have on staff morale and performance. 

To explore mid-pandemic boardroom sentiments around digital transformation and remote working, Expleo conducted a comprehensive study in association with TechPro magazine, surveying over 200 business and IT decision-makers across the island of Ireland.  

Key learnings from a year in review 

As we reflect on one year of remote working, many of the findings we uncovered in our Business Transformation Index 2021 have a particular resonance. The recently launched National Remote Work Strategy represented a clear signal of intent from the government to empower employees who wish to continue working remotely in the long-term. This means, after a year-long work from home test-run, remote working arrangements look set to feature prominently on the roadmap ahead for enterprises and staff. Expleo’s far-reaching survey resoundingly supports the viability of this future roadmap.  

Productivity  

Specifically, our research findings illustrate how worker productivity has endured, and even improved, in the remote working era. A combined 89% of respondents said productivity had improved or stayed the same while working from home, with 52% noting improved productivity, and 37% claiming productivity levels consistent with pre-pandemic conditions. Only 11% of respondents said productivity had been negatively impacted by remote working. 

As refinements are made to work from home policies in the near and long term, it is crucial that every effort is made to reward and recognise worker productivity. In addition to actively monitoring staff morale, businesses should consider workday restructuring, and the use of new collaborative tools to replicate the vibrancy of an office environment. Taking staff feedback on board and establishing progressive initiatives around wellness will also go a long way towards empowering workers. 

Expleo has been championing employee wellness by hosting weekly yoga and HIIT classes, weekly educational webinars with experts on mental and physical health, and an employee favourite – the ‘Working Wellness Packs’ that were sent out just in time for winter, containing an Expleo jumper, woolly hat, high-vis vest, a torch and some other goodies to encourage everyone to get outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes. 

Office space 

Last September, Google’s decision to abandon plans to lease new office space in Dublin started a conversation around the viability of sizeable long-term real estate commitments for enterprises. Recent research published by estate agent Savills shows that the take-up of new office space in Dublin fell almost 50% year-on-year. Additionally, HSBC recently announced plans to halve its global office space, with the bank’s CEO Noel Quinn noting how a hybrid model of working would be implemented. The above statistics illustrate how the pandemic has legitimised remote working in short order, and how major organisations with large numbers of employees are embracing remote working for the long term. 

Looking ahead 

COVID-19 has undoubtedly been a catalyst for change, and for many organisations pandemic-induced change has been digital-led. We have seen an unprecedented acceleration of digital transformation initiatives among enterprises, with heightened investment in digital infrastructure and services designed to future-proof operations and enable seamless remote working arrangements. 

As the workplace landscape continues to evolve, bringing together the ingenuity and creativity of staff (albeit remotely in some cases) with innovative new tools will be a significant driver of business growth. Companies that leverage the latest innovations in automation, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence will be in pole position to thrive post-pandemic, and our research suggests that decisive action is being taken on these fronts. Our survey projects a pronounced spike in the level of spending across these areas post-COVID, with 80% of business and IT leaders planning to increase investment in digital transformation in general. At Expleo, we look forward to playing an active role in helping companies navigate this exciting period of digital-led growth and innovation. 

For a full overview of the Business Transformation Index survey results and our expert analysis, download the report here

Phil Codd, Managing Director, Expleo Ireland and Regional Director, Expleo UK and Ireland