Pandemic Predicts: Our Survey Results
by Betsy Burton
I recently had the distinct pleasure to present a webinar with my colleagues Jim, Ken, and Kalyn on Aragon Research’s top COVID-19 pandemic impact predictions (see Aragon Research’s Coronavirus Pandemic Impact Predictions).
During this session, we discussed our top predictions, the data that led to these predictions, and provided actionable advice on how organizations should respond to these market changes. We also took the opportunity to poll the attendees on several key questions related to the predictions.
In this blog, we explore the responses to these polling questions and how organizations might use these responses to help them plan for the coming months.
Shift to Digital Business
One of the predictions we discussed was regarding the likely shift to digital business, as organizations are forced to rethink their business models.
By YE 2023, 65% of businesses in the US, Europe, and Asia will define and support new customer-facing digital business models (80% probability).
Digitalization, also commonly called “Digital,” is the process of converting assets and processes to a digital format. Digital business is about creating new business models and processes that proactively reach customers and partners from their contextual perspective.
With this in mind, we asked webinar attendees, “based on your best estimates, what % of your business will be a fully digital business by 2023? (pick one that best applies)” The responses were as follows:
|0%||0% of our business will be fully digital business by 2023|
|13.8%||~25% of our business will be fully digital business by 2023|
|37.9%||~50% of our business will be fully digital business by 2023|
|34.5%||~75% of our business will be fully digital business by 2023|
|13.8%||100% of our business will be fully digital business by 2023|
It is not a surprise that most organizations will be supporting a hybrid model (traditional business, digitized business, and digital business) over the next few years. The interesting shift, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, is that the vast majority of organizations (over 86%) expect to be supporting new business models and processes that proactively reach customers and partners for at least 50% of their business. Further, 13.8% expect to be fully digital business by 2023.
Digital business is about business strategy and business model change that is enabled by technology. Organizations seeking to support digital business for a larger percentage of their business must ensure that they are defining a business strategy and execution before adopting technologies. Aragon Research has released several notes and blogs that are focused on helping organizations make these critical technology-enabled business decisions (COVID-19 Action: Define Your Business Goals and Strategy, Now and Self-Assessment: Digital Business Strategy).
The Pandemic and the Era of Remote Work
Due to the shelter in place (SIP) and lockdown orders in many states throughout the US and many European countries, as well as the gradual, phased opening guidance (see the White House guidelines), a dramatically higher number of people are working remotely if they are able. In fact, many businesses and individuals have gone through an adjustment in terms of business practices, processes, culture, management protocols, and technologies to support remote work from home jobs (see our advice for guiding your organization through COVID-19).
As a result of this significant shift to remote work, my colleague Jim Lundy made the following prediction:
By YE 2022, corporate and government enterprises will allow 1) up to 40% of the workforce to work remote 100% of the time (40% probability) and 2) allow 70% of them to work remote 40% of the time (80% probability).
We believe many organizations will continue to support an increased number of jobs working remotely as an integral part of their business model as there are many benefits to working remotely. With this in mind, we asked webinar attendees, “How will your organization change its pre-pandemic remote work policies? (pick one that best applies)” The responses were as follows:
|56.3%||Increase % remote work for most employees|
|12.5%||Change to 100% or predominately remote work|
|15.6%||Increase % of safe office workplace for most employees|
|0%||Change to 100% or predominately on-site office work|
As expected, the majority of organizations, 69%, are increasing remote jobs from home for most employees or shifting to a 100% remote work model. We also find organizations moving to a safer work environment for office work.
These organizations should be wary of the challenges of working remotely. Do not assume you can just send your employees home with a laptop to be effective.
Shifting to a remote work model—either for the entire organization or a percentage of the workforce—must be considered a significant business operational change that requires an investment in management and technology to ensure employees working remotely and office-based employees are effective.
This includes effective management practices, performance metrics, governance (see Use Leading Performance Metrics to Understand What Might Happen), and technologies (see The Aragon Research Technology Arc™ for the Digital Workplace, 2020).
Ensuring Safe Work Environments During the Coronavirus
Another issue many organizations are grappling with is making their work environment safer for employees that need to physically come into a workplace (i.e., reduce the risks of transmission to coworkers, partners, and customers).
We have seen organizations take a number of steps, including adding barriers between workstations, scheduling workdays to reduce the number of employees in a common location (lunch areas, entry and exits, locker areas, etc.). One restaurant put shower curtains between customers.
With all this effort, we wondered how much organizations would be utilizing health check processes and technologies to make the workplace safer, including questionnaires, testing, and biometrics. With this discussion in mind, my colleague Ken Dulaney wrote the following prediction:
By YE 2022, 35% of enterprise group gatherings will be preceded by individual health checks (60% probability).
During our webinar, we asked attendees, “What will your company be doing to ensure a safe workplace for employees and customers? (pick any that apply)” The responses were as follows:
|56.3%||Changing workplace with additional barriers and increased space|
|12.5%||Taking temperatures before entering work environments|
|15.6%||Requiring masks, hand sanitizing, and regular office cleanings|
|0%||Requiring regular COVID tests|
|15.6%||Increasing remote work|
Most organizations with on-site employees are planning on changing the workplace with additional barriers and space and requiring protective practices (face masks, hand washing/sanitizing, and cleaning offices).
In terms of individual health checks, 12.5% are planning to require that their employees have their temperature taken before entering group gatherings. None of the organizations attending the webinar are planning to require regular COVID tests.
This is both a surprise and not a surprise. On the one hand, the availability of testing has been limited, and the accuracy has been called into question. On the other hand, if testing were readily available, rapid, and highly accurate, many organizations might find it the most effective way to ensure a safe workplace, especially for group gatherings. And yet, if this type of testing becomes highly available, organizations are going to need to continue to offer options that balance medical privacy with providing a safe workplace.
The COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-term impact on how organizations support their business model and operations, as well as how they engage their employees, partners, and customers. Now is not the time to assume business as usual or think in terms of “returning to normal.”
Organizations must proactively plan their business future-state with a view of how this event will change their business, industry, region, economy, and culture. Organizations that do not take a strategic approach to these changes will not only miss out on the ability to capitalize on new opportunities but also put their business, employees, partners, and customers at risk.