Riverbed “Future of Work” Study Finds Business Leaders Worldwide Are Comfortable – But Not Fully Prepared Yet – for Large Scale Shift to Remote Work
New technology investments are expected to enhance corporate performance and wellness as employees increasingly Work From Anywhere
- While 95% of business leaders are comfortable with employees working remote, 69% said they were not completely prepared to support extensive remote work at start of COVID-19 outbreak
- Businesses expect a nearly 50% increase in employees working remote post COVID-19
- More than 3 in 5 (61%) business leaders plan to make investments over the next year to enhance remote work performance, and 31% plan to make significant investments
- The biggest barriers to success for ensuring remote workforce performance: the need for technology to optimize or improve performance (39%), unreliable home Wi-Fi (38%) and the need for better visibility into network and application performance (37%)
- Technology performance issues for remote workers impact business and people: increased technical disruptions (40%); weaker employee performance/productivity (37%); increased anxiety/ stress (36%); lack of work motivation (34%); increased difficulty engaging with customers (34%)
- Business leaders expect remote work to deliver long-term benefits for employees and bottom line
SAN FRANCISCO – July 15, 2020 – Business leaders around the world are comfortable and optimistic about the broad scale shift toward remote work, according to the Riverbed Future of Work Global Survey 2020 that included 700 business decision makers, however findings also indicate the vast majority of organizations were not well prepared when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Moving forward, the majority of business leaders said they are investing in technology to improve remote work performance and have high expectations of their return.
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The survey found that while 95% of business leaders are comfortable with their employees working remote (and 63% completely or very comfortable), from a technology standpoint, 69% of these same business leaders reported they were not completely prepared to support extensive remote work at the beginning of the outbreak. The healthcare industry, at the center of the crisis, understandably had the most (86%) most respondents that were not completely prepared, followed by manufacturing (72%), retail (69%), professional services (66%), and financial services (58%).
“Businesses had already been accommodating more remote workers the past several years, but COVID-19 is accelerating this, and the office of the future will clearly look very different with a more flexible and hybrid workplace,” said Rich McBee, President and CEO of Riverbed. “This new study shows that business leaders are now much more comfortable with their teams working remote, however organizations must have the right technology in place to ensure greater productivity and a better remote experience as employees increasingly work from anywhere.”
Performance Issues Have Impacted Employees and the Business
Nearly all (94%) business leaders surveyed reported technology performance issues for remote workers that have impacted their employees and the business. The most common issues – all resolvable – include: poor quality of video meetings (40%); frequent disconnects from corporate networks (40%); slow file downloads (38%); and long response time when loading apps (36%). When asked about the impact these issues have on the remote work experience of employees, business leaders report: increased technical disruptions (40%); weaker employee performance and lack of productivity (37%); increased anxiety and stress (36%); a lack of work motivation (34%); and increased difficulty engaging with customers (34%).
Barriers to Success of a High Performing Remote Workforce
Business leaders say the biggest barriers to success for ensuring the performance of a remote workforce are: technology to optimize or improve remote performance (39% globally; and 50% in the U.S.), spotty or unreliable home Wi-Fi (38%) and the need for better visibility into network and application performance (37% globally; and 43% in the U.S. and 42% in France).
“The last several months have given organizations a better understanding of the barriers to success for creating a high-impact remote workforce,” said Subbu Iyer, CMO at Riverbed. “It’s encouraging to see from the Future of Work survey and in conversations with our customers, that businesses and governments are planning to invest more in technology to boost remote work performance. Riverbed is fully focused on helping our customers maximize the performance and visibility of networks and applications, regardless of the physical location of where employees work.”
Remote and Flexible Workforces Expected to Increase Significantly
Despite challenges, nearly one in five (19%) business leaders globally expect half or more of their employees to work remotely (full time or at least half time) after COVID-19. Additionally, on average, business leaders globally expect 25% of employees to work remote after COVID-19, a near 50% increase versus prior to the pandemic.
Industries projecting the largest average percentage of their teams to work remote after COVID-19 are those less dependent on physical presence, including financial services (39% vs. 28% before the outbreak) and professional services (35% vs. 28%). Geographically, U.S. business leaders expect 42% of their employees to work remote after COVID-19 (a 27% increase versus prior to COVID-19), while in Saudi Arabia and UAE the expectation is 28% working remote, also an increase of 27%.
Business Leaders Investing In Technology for Remote Workforce Performance
To drive greater remote working performance, 61% of business leaders plan to make additional technology investments - and 31% plan to make significant investments - in the next 12 months. In the U.S., a robust 86% plan to make additional technology investments, while in Saudi Arabia/UAE and the UK, 79% and 72% of business leaders plan to invest, respectively. Among industries, financial services (84%) and healthcare (79%) plan to make additional investments over the next year.
Business leaders have already begun to identify their priority strategies and technologies to enhance remote work for their employees and their company. The top initiatives business decision makers plan to undertake in the next two years include:
- updating company-wide remote workplace strategies and policies (43%)
- increasing the use of cloud services or SaaS apps (42%)
- using software for better visibility of network and applications performance (40%)
- deploying technology to automate remote network operations (40%)
- investing in digital security technology and software (40%)
- re-evaluating and/or re-architecting IT environment (40%)
- investing in application or network acceleration solutions (38%)
Globally, business leaders expect to gain long-term benefits for their employees and bottom line as a result of increasing their remote workforce, including: better work-life balance 50%; savings from office space and related costs 50%; better use of technology 49%; and increases in productivity 43%.
Work From Anywhere (#WFA) with Riverbed
Now more than ever, business leaders and IT teams are tasked with quickly scaling remote work models to maintain business continuity and employee productivity. Riverbed delivers solutions that maximize performance and visibility for networks and applications — regardless of location. Riverbed’s remote work performance solutions include Riverbed Client Accelerator and Riverbed SaaS Accelerator, and help organizations:
- Reduce bandwidth utilization by 99%
- Extend optimization to laptops for 33x faster application performance
- Accelerate enterprise SaaS applications, including Office 365, by up to 10x
Additionally, Riverbed’s market-leading Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) solutions diagnose and troubleshoot network performance and security issues, delivering: 100% visibility of every packet, every flow and all networked devices; 53% reduction in network and app blind spots; and a 67% reduction of lost user productivity. Together, Riverbed’s NPM and Client and SaaS Accelerator technologies offer the most complete network visibility and performance solution for working remotely.
The Riverbed Future of Work Global Survey 2020 is the result of a custom online survey completed in June 2020 by Wakefield Research with 700 business decision makers at companies with $500M+ in annual revenue from across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and UAE/Saudi Arabia. Quotas were set for 100 respondents within each of the following verticals: Financial Services, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Healthcare and Retail.
Connect with Riverbed
Riverbed enables organizations to maximize performance and visibility for networks and applications, so they can overcome complexity and fully capitalize on their digital and cloud investments. The Riverbed Network and Application Performance Platform enables organizations to visualize, optimize, remediate and accelerate the performance of any network for any application. The platform addresses performance and visibility holistically with best-in-class WAN optimization, network performance management (NPM), application acceleration (including Office 365, SaaS, client and cloud acceleration), and enterprise-grade SD-WAN. Riverbed’s 30,000+ customers include 99% of the Fortune 100. Learn more at riverbed.com.
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