Report: American workers don’t expect things to return to normal, even if a COVID-19 vaccine is produced

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As the coronavirus continues to spread across the US, workers are not confident that a return to work is safe or possible, and 81% expect disruptions, even after a vaccine might be available, according to a new survey.

Image: Anna Ostanina, Getty Images/iStockPhoto

As the spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues across the US, with a resurgence of new infections and a total of more than 4.5 million cases to date, people and business owners are holding out hope for a vaccine that could help contain the spread of COVID-19 and bring life back to normal. But Gartner has found that even after the crisis abates, remote work could be here to stay––which may not be a bad thing, considering that two-thirds of workers feel more productive working remotely than in the office. And according to a new study from Unity Brand, even the introduction of a vaccine may not convince Americans that work life can return to what it was like pre-pandemic.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

The new survey gauges the opinions of 1,000 people across America, covering the gamut of geographic and socioeconomic situations, to find how people feel about the way their lives have changed––and may stay changed––as a result of the coronavirus.  

As America continues to move in the reverse direction, in terms of new cases many workers are now experiencing apathy, after an initial period of frustration and anger. A mere 19% believe that the introduction of a vaccine will end the major disruptions caused by the virus, and most see the situation as remaining uncontrolled through 2021.

Here are some interesting results from the survey, conducted by the wearable company aimed at helping users track and manage their COVID-19 risk:

  • Severity: Women and men have different expectations around COVID-19. Women predict worse symptoms from the coronavirus than men and believe they will be bedridden, or worse, at 61%  and 51%, respectively. 
  • Transmission: Most people are more worried about transmitting the virus to others than about getting it themselves.
  • Travel: Attitudes around travel remain cautious: Without a vaccine, only 17% of Americans would take a cruise, and 58% say they won’t go on a vacation at all.
  • Finance: One in 5 Americans predict they will be bankrupt if the current climate continues for the next six months to a year.
  • Work: More than half of employees would consider returning to work, given the environment feels safe: Men are more likely than women to consider this (33% to 25%). 

“When I look at this survey, I see a collection of Americans that are looking for ways to create a new normal for themselves––one that illuminates social acceptance and instant gratification for those looking to start new routines as they navigate the world,” said Sunny Kapoor, COO and co-founder at Unity Band.  

SEE: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same–here’s what to expect (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

As we continue to adjust to a radically altered situation at work and at home, the survey shows that the current outlook remains uncertain, and workers are skeptical that the situation will change in the near future. 

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More than half of North American businesses believe their technology is inadequate

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With remote work fully underway, inefficiencies are hampering employee productivity, according to the survey by Beagle Research Group and software provider Zoho.

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Source: Beagle Research Group and Zoho

An overwhelming 90% of North American companies surveyed said it is not possible to get a 360-degree view of their customers without using multiple systems, according to a newly published survey. Companies need to recognize the significance of this finding since “the customer and client relationship is particularly fragile during the pandemic and [the] context for communication is critical, according to the survey by Beagle Research Group and global tech provider Zoho.

While companies excelled in the areas of traditional management, technology systems were rated by employees as outdated and inefficient for overall performance, the two companies said.

The survey found that applications are hard to use (46%) and technology is inadequate to align with company goals while working remotely (24%).

However, respondents gave their companies high marks in areas of goal setting, alignment, and inspiring performance, so even with the disruption of office closures, workers feel supported by and aligned with their employer while working remotely, Beagle Research and Zoho said.

Employee engagement and alignment also ranked high. Specifically, 66% of respondents said they find high satisfaction in the work they do and only 4% reported that their job is chaotic and difficult to do well, the two companies said.

SEE: 
How IT teams have been challenged by the shift to remote working

(TechRepublic)

Additionally, 69% of employee respondents agreed that their job provides them with meaningful work they take pride in; and 68% of front-office employees and 75% of back-office employees said they felt a sense of purpose in their work.

However, in the category of technology infrastructure, employees reported that their current company systems need a unified overhaul. Specifically:

·         51% of employees categorized these systems inadequate in keeping them aligned with company goals while working remotely.

·         52% said they found their computing systems not conducive to their work, with that number growing to 56% at the small and medium enterprise level (businesses under 500 employees).

·         54% of enterprise-level employees (businesses with more than 500 employees) said they found the applications they work with not intuitive and difficult to integrate.

·         40% of the largest enterprise employees surveyed (businesses with more than 4,000 employees) said their work can be chaotic, working with multiple technology platforms to do their job accordingly.

·         37% of enterprise employees said they found their technology infrastructure not supportive to good communication throughout the organization as they work remote.

For both front office and back office employees, half of respondents found their company’s technology inadequate to support their job role while remote, the survey found.

“Going to the office, as a concept, started during the Industrial Revolution, when workers needed to travel to factories to use heavy equipment,” said Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist at Zoho, in a statement. “With the cloud, with online tools accessible from anywhere, including your home, we are back to a pre-Industrial Revolution era. This means that the right tools have to be made available for employees to be productive.”

The inevitable conclusion from this data is that if companies want to improve their performance, they should look first at the technology systems that support their primary business activities, said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group and the report’s author, in a statement.

“The data show that companies, especially at the enterprise level, are realizing the importance of integrated solutions to streamline business processes to enable working in a variety of new theaters,” he said.

The April 2020 study by Beagle Research Group surveyed more than 500 employees at businesses of varying sizes and industries throughout North America.

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