Twitter told employees earlier this week that, so long as their position allows for it, they have the option to permanently shift to remote work.
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The company said it would let employees choose whether to return to corporate offices, which will reopen once the pandemic has diminished to a safe level. Most Twitter offices won’t reopen until at least September, and even then, any reopenings would be staggered. Twitter also canceled business travel through September, along with all in-person company events through 2020.
Twitter’s decision adds to a trend of corporations embracing work-from-home accommodations that extend beyond the pandemic. Earlier this month, Nationwide Insurance permanently adopted a hybrid remote work policy, in which employees across five corporate offices will transition to remote work, allowing the company to shed approximately 2 million square feet of office space.
“The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past,” Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays told The New York Times. JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley executives also indicated that remote work could become a permanent fixture for at least some of their employees. According to a mid-April GetAbstract survey of US employees who are currently working from home, 20% of respondents said their company has discussed permanently accommodating a flexible policy on remote work.
Only 12% of respondents said being sequestered at home has made them want to spend more time in an office environment. And companies looking to cut costs amid the economic downturn may hesitate to commit to leasing office space, if remote work policies could allow them to avoid having to do so.
During the pandemic, companies have absorbed considerable up-front costs associated with transitioning temporarily to remote work, but a permanent shift will require them to adopt additional technology. Here are three tech segments we think will continue to grow in response to the shift:
- Virtual conferencing: While Microsoft, Google, and Zoom are engaged in a fierce battle over the enterprise video conferencing market, there are still opportunities for growth in other segments like VR. HTC and Spatial, for instance, offer immersive, VR-based meeting environments. And LinkedIn this week launched LinkedIn Virtual Events, an enterprise-focused livestreaming platform intended to host enterprise conferences.
- Cloud-based productivity suites: Microsoft and Google together dominate the broader ecosystem with Office 365 and G Suite, respectively. But as in virtual conferencing, there are still opportunities for companies that cater more to specific needs — cloud-based sales software or creativity suites, for instance — to accelerate growth during the transition.
- Secure networking solutions: Mobile hotspots and VPNs can help make transitioning to remote work more streamlined, feasible, and secure. The process of adopting remote work technologies has been hasty in many cases, presenting opportunities for canny hackers. Thirty-one percent of employees who transitioned to remote work during the pandemic felt working from home was less secure than working in the office, according to a Metova survey conducted in April. And it seems they’re not wrong: By mid-April, the daily number of cyberattacks reported to the FBI had increased by up to 400% since the onset of the pandemic, according to a report from April reported by The Hill.
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