COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has resulted in a devastating impact on small businesses across the country. The effect is particularly amplified in the New Orleans area, where tourism and the service industry are major economic drivers.
In response to the pandemic, companies in various fields—such as finance, technology, law, and engineering, to name a few—have resorted to work-from-home models for their employees, and it appears the supposedly temporary shift could have a lasting impact on the business landscape in Louisiana.
According to a recent Gartner survey of 317 CFOs across the country, 74% of companies plan to move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions even after the pandemic subsides, CFO Dive reported. The reason is simple: What was a response to a state of emergency has demonstrated to CFOs the costs and benefits of a remote workforce, especially since the necessary technology to make it happen is readily available.
The situation brings up questions about how CFOs in New Orleans should handle their contractual, corporate real estate leases, as expanding home offices in many cases may mitigate the need for large, expensive buildings. Additionally, employers have to figure out how to best support their remote teams with proper resources, technology, and experiences.
To make remote work more viable for a wider variety of positions and to help minimize disruptions workers might be experiencing as a result of the crisis, CFOs also reported in the survey that they intend to shift to more flexible work schedules and provide their employees with essential work-from-home equipment.
This would mean, however, CFOs adjust their spending for on-site technology, which is already happening. In the survey, 20% of respondents reported previously deferring on-site technology spending, with an additional 12% expecting to do so soon.
University of New Orleans Professor Emeritus of Economics and Business Dr. Janet Speyrer weighed in on the matter in an article for WWL News. She estimates the post-pandemic normal for businesses will be a sort of hybrid, with “some kind of work at home,” in addition to some work at the office.
Especially while health risks from the virus linger, many employees will be wary about returning full-time to their worksite. Meanwhile, as social distancing requirements are eased, businesses are still being asked to operate with skeleton crews or staggered schedules.
Before the home office concept can take permanent hold in New Orleans and across the state, however, a lot of infrastructures must be expanded, Speyrer stated in the article. In the temporary situation, “some people have more sophisticated systems than others,” she said, which creates an unfairly stressful and challenging work environment for select employees.
To fix the situation and ensure all workers are equipped to perform their job at an optimal level, they will need more broadband and Wi-Fi capacity at home, as well as the proper equipment and technology. Some also may need extra square footage at their residence to create a suitable home office that allows them to execute their responsibilities and functions adequately.
Additionally, another piece of the puzzle, according to Speyrer, is a more sophisticated monitoring system to ensure employees are getting their work done promptly. She expects some businesses will move away from an hourly pay-scale and replace it with a performance-based requirement.
Even if companies in New Orleans decide to move a portion of their workforce to remote positions to cut costs while maintaining operations, high-level IT management services are as important as ever. To help your employees thrive in a work-from-home situation, you need innovative and effective IT services designed to maximize your capabilities, protect your data, and streamline communication. That’s where BIOS Technologies can help. We provide a variety of IT services and support to help your New Orleans company maintain productivity and continuity during COVID-19 and beyond.