After email and video communications, cloud storage services are the next most common tool used by remote workforces. These solutions enhance collaboration beyond traditional, thread-based file exchange capabilities, adding centralized data backup, coordinated sharing among teams, and version control history for concurrent editing.
As with videoconferencing, platforms like Apple iCloud, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive were already familiar to most remote workers pre-pandemic, having operated consumer plans on a freemium model for many years. Three-fourths of all remote employees report using at least one tested service, and many make use of two or more, reflecting a combination of separate personal/professional accounts and the fragmented preferences of different teams. Close integration with many team-based tools highlighted earlier is undoubtedly part of their appeal, with workers able to harness core platform functionality through their preferred digital workspace.
Cloud storage services have been the leading IT investment recently undertaken by SMBs, with 19% of owners surveyed by Parks Associates reporting spending in the category since the pandemic began. It is also the leading category of future IT investment over the next six months, with 35% of firms planning to invest further and “at-risk” firms exhibiting even greater interest (43%) in doing so. Yet again, internet providers are poised to capture most of this related spending, slightly edging out other IT service companies as the preferred vendors for SMBs.
Long-Term Threat: Lack of Culture
While employee output has remained strong under remote work, people-oriented aspects of company strategy have declined considerably from the dearth of in-person interaction. Although videoconference platforms substitute effectively for many facets of meetings, they cannot fully replicate many other “softer” benefits fostered within office settings. The following charts (below) from Global Workplace Analytics (Work from Home Experience Survey”, May 2020) illustrate several challenges employees face working remotely.
Lack of innovation, failure to socialize new hires and pass on company culture, and less executive mentorship represent long-term threats to corporate strategy, with such risks typically identified by employers more than their workers. (Gallup Research ”Remote Work Persisting and Trending Permanent”, October 2021.) Companies continuing remote operations for the near future must invest in new solutions to maintain a cohesive corporate identity.
This is a research excerpt from Parks Associates study, Work Transformed: Impact on Communications and Technology Markets. Social distancing guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused shifts in where and how people work. The report outlines how different industries have adjusted their work environments and processes to accommodate social distancing guidelines, the technologies that businesses have adopted to accommodate new work processes, and the emerging support needs driven by the adoption of these new technologies. We love comments on our research. Visit www.parksassociates.com for more info.
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