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Evolution and Revolution in the Workplace: Remote Work Has Altered Business Forever

December 18, 2020

Few periods in business have been as transformative as the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on, the disease forced, or in some cases, prompted companies around the world to accelerate adoption of modern practices and technologies, such as enabling remote work. Now, following the first wave of COVID-19, many organizations clearly saw that the implementation of those technologies and practices have not only helped corporations survive the crisis, but also presented them with unexpected benefits and opportunities. 


Confronted initially by an unfathomable business climate, managers went from simply exploring technology solutions, to testing, to quickly deploying applications that supported their teams' shift to virtual work environments.  


As we head into 2021 and make our way through the second pandemic wave, Teradici has released the results of a survey on the future of remote work. Nearly 700 decision-makers and managers were queried from companies in over 60 countries.  


Revealed in “The Separation of Work and Place" are business leaders who heeded the lessons taught by the first wave. Managers emerged savvier, not just about weathering the next crisis, but also about incorporating new technologies, such as remote-work applications, into their permanent, day-to-day operations.  


Among the survey's findings is that at the outset of the pandemic, many companies were caught largely unprepared. Numerous firms lacked a blueprint for enabling employees to work from home. Others discovered that their remote-work policies were inadequate and required modification.  


Not surprisingly, two-thirds of respondents said that if ever confronted by a similar event, they would respond differently. Who can blame them? At the time, chaos reigned. Hardly anyone seemed well equipped to confront the unprecedented challenges. 


Every organization faced the strain of maintaining business continuity and delivering projects on-time as they navigated a new way of working.  Scores of them, particularly those from the film, TV, and video-game industries, were under intense pressure. Their audiences were stuck inside and clamoring for streamed content or indoor entertainment to pass the time. But delivering that content meant managers needed to support their remote artists beyond sending them home with a laptop and access to Zoom.  


Visual effects, animation and game development involve graphics-intensive applications and the ability to manipulate and edit hundreds of gigabytes of information, sometimes petabytes. Multiple artists must have the ability to work simultaneously on the same project. And all of this labor typically requires immense computing power. Some firms found creative ways to employ the cloud to render and edit. Others leveraged tools and software to improve bandwidth savings. 


The need for technology upgrades didn't just involve industry. When universities began to suffer nearly total pandemic paralysis — with students and teachers barred from classrooms — administrators began relying more on tech companies. Institutions like the Vancouver Film School turned to numerous tech providers to help give students access to virtual workstations that emulated the high-powered desktops and applications they would use in the labs on-campus. 


Few industries will emerge from this period in better shape than the top cloud providers. Leading up to the pandemic, the hot debate in enterprise computing was whether companies should continue to maintain technology resources in their data centers, or move them to the cloud.  


During the crisis, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others rose to the occasion. The prevailing wisdom is that companies must incorporate both data centers and the cloud. According to Nextgov, the Central Intelligence Agency is impressed enough to hand five of the largest cloud players a slice of the massive Commercial Cloud Enterprise contract.  


Meanwhile, the period also saw the beginning of a fundamental shift in some sectors. Managers began to discover that remote work and other tech applications benefitted them in unforeseen ways. In some cases, costs were reduced, and recruiting improved. Others discovered that productivity climbed as workers spent less time and energy commuting, and more time on projects.  


Those workers who regretted living in one of the expensive technology hubs could reduce their costs by relocating. Morale improved. The list of companies that have adopted some kind of permanent remote-work option continues to grow, and now includes Nationwide Insurance, SiemensTwitter, REI, and Microsoft. 


Remote work has even appealed to companies in Japan, a country not known for dropping traditions easily. Just last month, Square Enix, a Japanese video game holding company, announced that employees can now choose to become home or office based. This means an employee must decide to work an average of at least three days per week either from the home or office. 


What’s noteworthy is that employees aren’t the only ones promoting remote work. Company presidents and CEOs have also embraced the model. Circling back to the survey, Teradici's report found that respondents said they plan to support remote teams by doubling IT spending.   


Remote work may have started the pandemic as a crisis-management fix, but it has morphed into a better way of operating for the near future, and beyond.

David Smith

Teradici CEO