The COVID-19 lockdown experience will have a lasting impact on the tech workforce, with almost three-quarters of companies now expecting remote workers to become more common, according to a new survey by Greater Nashville Technology Council.
“Tech leaders are telling us that working from home is here to stay,” said Brian Moyer, tech council president and CEO. “Our sector already had a large number of remote workers, and the COVID-19 quarantine has proven to more employers that many team members can be just as productive working from home. Going forward, those employers will be more willing to allow it on an ongoing basis. More companies have also now invested in working-from-home infrastructure, and it makes sense to continue using it where appropriate.”
The survey of tech council members across Middle Tennessee gathered responses from 87 employers, representing 34,317 full-time and 7,422 part-time employees. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of surveyed employers expect working from home to become more common after the COVID-19 quarantine. Just 28 percent expect their workforce to return to its pre-quarantine mix.
Remote workforce expected to double to almost 40 percent
Based on their best estimates, tech leaders expect the number of employees working from home to be double what it was before the COVID-19 lockdown. This would result in the remote workforce expanding to 38 percent, up from 19 percent.
“Many employees will still want or need to be in the office,” added Moyer, “but for others, being in quarantine has exposed them to the lifestyle benefits of working from home, either full-time or part-time. Those benefits include having all the comforts of home, zero commuting times and the ability to work more flexible hours to accommodate family commitments.”
The survey results also reveal that tech leaders remain cautious about staging large company events. For events of up to 50 people, almost half of respondents (48 percent) are targeting Quarter 3 of 2020. Twenty-one percent will still hold events in Q2, while 18 percent will wait until Q4 and the remaining 13 percent expect to hold off until 2021.
For events larger than 100 people, most respondents are looking at late 2020 or early 2021. Thirty-two percent anticipate events in Q4 of 2020, 30 percent say Q1 of 2021 and 16 percent are planning for Q2 of 2021. Only 10 percent believe they’ll be ready to hold large events in Q3 of 2020. Twelve percent expect to wait until Q3 of 2021 or even later.
Most surveyed tech leaders do not expect to see a measurable improvement in the U.S. economy until at least July 2020. Just 15 percent are optimistic of an economic rebound in May or June. Sixty-four percent expect a significant improvement sometime between July and October, while 21 percent believe the recovery will come in November or later.
The majority of respondents (53 percent) expect to see a “U-curve” gradual economic recovery, but many are concerned about the potential impact of a COVID-19 recurrence. Thirty-two percent predict a “W-curve” strong recovery with the virus recurring, 10 percent expect a “V-curve” rapid recovery, and 3 percent forecast an “L-curve” prolonged economic downturn.