COVID-19 and the work-from-home shift are breaking work processes

covid-19-and-the-work-from-home-shift-are-breaking-work-processes

Many manual work processes are becoming more difficult to execute for front line workers away from the office, according to a TrackVia report.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting work-from-home orders have created work processes gaps, according to a new report from TrackVia, the application building platform. The report, WFH: Work Processes in Quarantine, shows that 62% of workers and 89% of IT staff said there were some manual work processes that they could not perform from home offices. The processes respondents cited, such as billing, logistics tracking, safety inspections, and common project management tasks are often done on spreadsheets.

“The top line takeaway is COVID has changed how we work but the big takeaway is the enormous process gaps that exist in organizations,” said Charles Var, executive vice president of marketing at TrackVia. “The second big takeaway is really around this growing movement of average business people wanting to be able to solve their own tech problems.”

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The problem facing workers is many of the day-to-day tasks they use to get their work done are primarily manual in nature. Working from home means they cannot rely on the office “sneaker-net” to get things done. The report found that 71% of workers believe the changing work environment has accelerated the need for their employers to adapt new technologies and solutions.

“Many larger organizations have digitized the main core functions of their operations … but there is a whole layer beneath that is being managed at the department level, that is still being run on spreadsheets or pieces of paper,” Var said. “As soon as COVID hit, all those secondary level processes broke.”

Examples of manual processes abound, said Var. At GE, MRI techs used a single spreadsheet to track machine maintenance. When the spreadsheet got lost, they had to recreate it from scratch. When putting together a special production run for a customer, the outdoor apparel firm NorthFace had to use 32 spreadsheets to create the product workflows and processes that were then uploaded into the ERP system for production.

“There’s a lot of good data on work from home, but what I think is more interesting is the data around people and paper processes,” said Var. “And what you assume is they are digitized and they are not. This data reveals that many companies will push this to the front of the list.”

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According to the report, 61% of workers said, if they had the tools available, they would create applications to manage business tasks, reflecting a newfound sense of empowerment felt by employees. More than half (58%) of workers and 82% of IT feel empowered to address the technology challenges they have faced since COVID-19.

At the AAA of Ohio, CIO Rob Zahn, said that digitizing low-level office processes like auto parts invoices for its garages has taken on a new urgency since the pandemic sent most employees home.

Based on the growing popularity of low-code and no-code platforms, Var said this trend is likely to continue beyond the current conditions.

The report also found:

  • 59% of IT and 40% of workers said the inability to travel to other locations is hampering their ability to complete tasks.

  • Over half of workers (52%) believe IT is best suited to pick the software they use to get their work done.

  • 87% of IT people believe their companies should do more to empower employees to work more creatively.

  • 94% of IT people said it is their role to help employees work better and smarter.

  • 73% of workers said their company is now more open to empowering employees to work more creatively.

  • 69% of workers said COVID-19 has negatively impacted their ability to do work.

About the survey

In May 2020, TrackVia surveyed 200 IT professionals and 200 professional workers. This blind survey was completed online and responses were random, voluntary, and anonymous.

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