After quarantine catalyzed the mass migration to working from home, many companies have begun to embrace long-term remote work policies. Nationwide Insurance, for instance, decided to shift to a permanent hybrid work-from-home model — employees will still report to the main corporate campuses, but most other locations will shift completely to remote work.
This will enable Nationwide to lower costs by cutting office space leases for at least four locations, which they hope to pass on to policyholders in the form of lower insurance costs, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Amazon likewise told corporate employees in its Washington state offices that they were welcome to work from home until at least October 2, according to The Seattle Times. Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s CFO, noted that even though some business units such as Amazon Studios had slowed down due to remote work, “by and large … we’ve been able to make progress even with our work-from-home situation.”
The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to absorb much of the upfront cost of shifting to remote work, so they are now better positioned to realize long-term cost savings by maintaining remote work policies. Remote work presents a number of opportunities for companies, including cutting lease costs and drawing from a global pool of employee talent. And as the economic outlook continues to worsen, companies will be even more inclined to take advantage of the opportunity to gain operational efficiencies.
Nearly 3 in 4 CFOs and finance leaders intend to shift at least 5% of previously on-site staff to permanent work-from-home setups after the pandemic, according to a Gartner survey conducted at the end of March. Some are even more bullish on the idea, with 6% of respondents indicating that at least half of their workforces would make the switch. Many employees are also embracing the change: 57% of respondents who are new to working from home due to the coronavirus said they would prefer to keep doing so in the future, and 48% said they feel more productive in the work-from-home environment, according to a Metova survey conducted in April.
Given these conditions, companies providing remote work solutions now face their largest opportunity ever to grow their business. Here are a few segments that will benefit:
- Secure network solutions. The accelerated shift to remote work has often come at the cost of security. For instance, 31% of employees felt working from home was less secure than working in the office, and 18% said their employer did not outline clear security procedures for working from home, according to the Metova survey. Network providers have a significant opportunity here, as VPNs and mobile hotspots can create a streamlined and standardized connectivity solution for remote employees.
- Cloud-based productivity suites. Microsoft and Google together dominate the enterprise software suite market, and both have seen usage skyrocket during the pandemic. While they will likely continue to capture growth in this space, there are opportunities for companies providing more specialized enterprise software — such as Adobe and Salesforce — to capitalize on the shift to remote work as well.
- Video conferencing. Microsoft, Google, and Zoom are engaged in a fierce battle to capture growth in the enterprise video conferencing segment. While we believe Microsoft and Google will ultimately make it difficult for Zoom to compete in the market, there are also opportunities for specialized providers to grow. For instance, HTC launched a VR remote work platform last week, and Verizon purchased BlueJeans to grow its B2B video conferencing service offering.
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