American IT Companies Post-Covid19

Judy Rubio

The way we see a traditional work setting has changed drastically due to pandemic and lockdown. Some companies have reduced their staff; some have switched to more remote work. Let’s explore how the USA tech giants adapted to the new reality.

The workforce in the USA has shifted towards remote work. Meetings in Zoom, lack of commute, lots of calls, and burning questions on how to stay productive when you are home. When it comes to achieved results, they should be viewed as a case-by-case situation. Some companies saw positive trends and savings on office space and decided to switch some of their employees to remote work permanently, some struggle with setting rules and managing their workforce.

Pros and cons of remote work for IT companies

The U.S. Census Bureau has published its report in which it states that one-third of all workers can work remotely. When it comes to people who work in the so-called «information» field, the numbers are even higher: one-half of the workforces. Outsourcing and remote work have been among trends in the IT field for a while now. However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown forced the companies to implement working from home option faster than planned. A lot of workers surveyed by the study replied that they want to continue working from home if that was possible even after lockdown. 98% of people found remote work more beneficial for them.

But what are the actual benefits, besides being able to work in pajamas?

Employees appreciate flexible schedule since it allows taking into account their own pace of life while maintaining important deadlines. Being able to work from any location is important as well. Actually, a lot of promotional materials for IT programs promise to be able to work anywhere, anytime, while receiving high salary. So there is this stereotypical picture of guy, working on his code on a beach with his laptop in one hand and exotic cocktail in the other. Even though this may be not the case for the most workers, being able to choose you own location, maybe close to your family, or with lower estate prices and cost of living, being able to travel once it is possible sounds like a pretty good deal.

Only one-third of candidates said that they are not paying attention to location flexibility while choosing an employer.

There are two sides to every story, so there are some downsides to switching to remote work.

Both managers and employers worry about the possible decrease in productivity. Being not able to speak directly and resorting to email threads and Zoom calls may discourage some people from talking to their manager and stating their concerns. Some people worry that while they are not at the office their efforts are not as noticeable and it may be harder to receive recognition for their contribution and possible promotion at work. Managers state their concerns with the change of working environment; they worry about the change in company culture, losing the connection between teammates, losing focus, diminishing productivity. 

Among top concerns of employees were troubles with work-life balance. Since the office setting and commute home gave opportunity to unplug from work issues and switch attention to family, staying at the house all day during lockdown may make it harder for a lot of workers.  A lot of people described their dissatisfaction with communication with their colleagues and not feeling like a part of the team anymore.

Of course, as many IT companies show us these two sides can be balanced with proper management of remote workers and clear, transparent infrastructure. All previously stated cons seem not as bad when you think about saving on office spaces and etc. Buffer says that an average company may save almost ten thousand dollars on one person if they work at home half the time. 

Remote work as permanent solution

According to the Wall Street Journal, a lot of big IT companies consider switching to working at home permanently. Of course, covid19 and lockdown have played a big role in this decision. For example, one of the FANG companies, Facebook has stated that almost half of their workers will have an opportunity to work remotely by the end of this year. Another FANG company, Alphabet, also gave similar statement. They plan to let almost 80% of their workforce to stay at home till the end of 2020. About 10-15% of their workers will return to the offices in June. 

Some big companies saw benefit for them and for their workers in the current work arrangement and decided to make it permanent. Twitter Inc. announced that they are willing to let most of its employees to continue working at home. 

These announcements raise stock of the companies that develop remote-work tools. All eyes are on them. The Wall Street Journal experts say that working at home will continue to be a trend even after the end of the pandemic-related lockdown.

Managers of LifeSize, Shopify, GitLab Inc. and others all voiced their support of this trend. The manager at GitLab Inc. also stated that the lockdown has pressed forward on the acceptance of remote work by ten years.

Possible strategies for return

More than 50% of the world's inhabitants increased the consumption of streaming services, 45% began to spend more time in online chat rooms or watching TV, 44% - on social networks, and another 36% remembered the existence of video games. And these are just figures from the world of media and entertainment.

Each crisis, in addition to negative influences, has positive consequences. The Great Depression taught the world to cope with global crises (and not only by unleashing large-scale wars); the collapse of the video game industry in 1983 (a drop in revenue from $ 3 billion to $ 100 million) stimulated the industry to reconsider its approach to business - today this market is estimated at more than $ 150 billion; the explosion of the dotcom bubble in the 2000th cleared the market of random people and gave an understanding of what Internet business really is; The Great Recession of 2008 taught the proper use of financial instruments and the importance of saving. The lockdown will also teach the world and IT industry, but we will know about the content of the lesson only after everything will be over.

The impact of a pandemic will last much longer than its associated limitations. A lot of areas will change forever. IT companies recognize the benefits of remote work for a large number of their employees, and will apply flexible approaches to all areas of the life cycle of the team, from staff recruitment to internal communications. Video communication will continue to be popular among colleagues, consumers will actively use digital services for physical exercises, shopping for products, training, entertainment, access to digital medical services. As predicted by a lot of IT professionals, the majority of companies will focus on the digital business and will pay increased attention to application security and system disaster recovery. Investments in technology and in the training and development of IT professionals themselves will increase. Companies should do everything possible to provide their specialists with the tools they need at the moment, leadership and support for becoming a transformation agent, which will enable them, in turn, to provide the company with positive business results. It is the skill, vision and determination of such specialists that determine whether companies can overcome the crisis period and become stronger in the future, the authors of the study comment.

Summary

The economy slowly returns to normal, the restaurants, beauty shops, gyms, and etc reopen, some people already returned to the office. We will have to wait and see how post-lockdown world will reshape its attitude towards remote work. Big IT companies already voiced their support and decided to switch some of their workforce to remote working, let’s see how it will work out in the long run.