The migration of employees from office environments to working remotely will have a lasting impact on the way Swindon businesses are run, according to the results of a new market intelligence report.
Specialist technology and engineering recruitment consultancy The People Network surveyed IT and operations managers and senior leaders across the town on the current impact of, and the future implications from, the coronavirus pandemic in late April and early May.
Of those who responded to the survey, just under half (48 percent) had furloughed staff, while just over a quarter (28 percent) had increased working hours to deal with the impact of coronavirus.
Seven percent had decreased working hours, and a further seven percent had made staff redundant. Three percent were hiring more staff for the short term, while seven percent had taken no extra measures.
Many IT teams had found themselves busier to facilitate the move from office to remote working. Fifty-two percent said their workload had increased, while 39 percent said it had decreased.
Just under two-thirds (60 percent) said their staff had responded 'very well' to working remotely with a further 24 percent saying staff had responded 'well'. Only four percent said staff had responded poorly.
For those coping well, said the report's authors, this is mainly due to the fact that the majority of their IT Departments were operationally prepared for remote working, had cloud infrastructure and applications in place and were already embracing flexible home working within their teams.
For those not coping so well, they added, one of the main reasons was they had never previously incorporated home working into their business so experienced “teething problems” getting used to the change. Another reason for this could be the lack of disaster recovery and business continuity planning existed in the businesses
More than half of respondents anticipated an increase in demand for cloud and infrastructure expertise in the coming months. Forty-four percent said security and risk skills would be in more demand, and forty percent reckoned on an increase in demand for IT support skills – all pointing towards a growing trend for remote working.
One Swindon-based head of IT operations told the canvassers: “Working remotely (or from home) will be the new way of working leading to companies re-thinking their location strategy. Cloud acceleration programmes will be central to the IT strategy in order to realise benefits from recent investments.”
And a head of data and analytics at a Swindon firm said: "Fully remote working with become the norm, most on premises operations will move to cloud, IT Depts have proven their value,” while a Swindon-based finance director said: “No longer constrained to four walls we are expecting a much greater demand for flexibility in work life.”
Chris Kent, managing director of The People Network, added: "the two main changes that senior leaders are expecting to see over the coming months are:
- Massive increase in remote working and increased flexibility for staff long term. The earlier answers in the report suggest that productivity has increased for many businesses with staff working at home. People no longer have a daily commute now sign in earlier and off later and feel they are more productive. This shift may see businesses also reassess their physical office requirements and they may look to potentially save more money on office space.
- Cloud Infrastructure and engineering is going to have a massive focus over the coming months. This will likely mean an increase in recruitment for Cloud, DevOps and Infrastructure Engineers. Before Covid-19 was a thing there was a shortage of talent in this area so businesses will need to carefully select the right recruitment partner to help them attract the talent that they need.