Quarterly Trends Report

Q1 2020: COVID-19 triggers “watershed moment” for remote working

  • Multi Asset
  • TMT
  • Global

Working from home is already so entrenched in many workplaces that the "WFH" acronym is now part of the professional lexicon. However, the impact of COVID-19 has been an even bigger eye opener to many businesses, from a technological and cultural perspective. Third Bridge Forum has spoken to numerous industry experts in Q1 2020 about how companies are adapting to the current situation and what they are learning.

Strict rules aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 have forced millions of people around the world to work from home in recent months. Although flexible working has in many ways already become the “new normal” — as indicated by nearly three-quarters (74%) of US respondents to a survey in 20193 — the pandemic and ensuing government restrictions in many countries has taken this to unprecedented levels. 

Companies have had to adapt at speed and scale; ensuring that all necessary IT systems, hardware and protocols are in place has been “mission-critical to sustain business”, an industry expert told Third Bridge Forum. Albeit temporary (although for how long remains unknown), the dramatic uptick in remote working has had a range of knock-on impacts within businesses and across the broader technology industry. Many commentators also believe it will fundamentally change how vast numbers of organisations operate in the future. “If you look at what’s happening now, this is going to change the way American corporations, and actually on a global basis, work in the future,” one expert said. Barclays’ CEO reportedly said this week that having thousands of workers in big city offices “may be a thing of the past” as the bank rethinks its long-term location strategy.4

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