The pandemic has changed the way businesses work. Remote working and virtual conferencing has been around for decades, but the lockdowns and social distancing accelerated the need for and the use of technology, changing the way work will be done long after the pandemic recedes.
When the pandemic hit, those testing the waters of digital transformation suddenly found themselves jumping in with both feet. Work from home became normal, virtual conferencing became a daily event. Patients were even meeting virtually with doctors.
To measure the economic impact of video conferencing in enabling successful remote work, Zoom commissioned an economic analysis and survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The resulting report was release last week and looks at key industries, six countries around the globe, and five specific states. Florida was one of those.
The report found, worldwide, a 200 to 300 percent increase in employees working remote at businesses surveyed, which was supported by a 240 to 270 percent increase in employees using video conferencing solutions. The total time spent on video conferencing solutions increased 300 to 500 percent at businesses surveyed. Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) surveyed experienced a 260 percent increase in the share of employees working remotely during the pandemic.
For education, there was a 350 percent increase in the use of video conferencing solutions at businesses surveyed.
BCG’s COVID-19 employee sentiment survey from 2020 showed that 72 percent of U.S. managers surveyed are more open to flexible remote working models than they were before the pandemic.
In Florida, the Zoom survey found 77 percent of SMBs surveyed agree “Employees at my company rapidly adopted video conferencing solutions with limited training.”
Sixty-one percent of SMBs surveyed consider “Video conferencing solutions a must-have or very important for remote work.” And, 76 percent of SMBs surveyed agree “Video conferencing solutions helped boost morale and mental well-being of employees at my company during the pandemic.”
According to the report, “Hybrid working models are here to stay — businesses surveyed expect over a third of employees to work remotely beyond the pandemic.”
Florida business leaders tend to agree.
Florida Blue President and CEO Pat Geraghty said in a article in Jacksonville Daily, “I happen to be of the opinion that we’re not going to be remaining completely remote and we’re not going back to where we were just prior to this pandemic. I think we’re going to find a spot in the middle.”
Geraghty said he sees some employees working a hybrid schedule, with some days in the office and the rest working from home. Others would have the option to work fully remotely.
Some employees have really embraced working from home and have no desire to return to the office.
Others, like Robert Down of Orlando, are anxious to return to face-to-face meetings and the traditional work environment. He told Marketplace, it wasn’t just the video calls he couldn’t get used to at the job he started after the pandemic began as a remote data analysis for a hospital. He never met his new co-workers in person. He eventually left the remote job and returned to “bedside” duties as a nurse.
As the world normalizes, employers and employees will be testing the waters together to determine what model works best for all involved.