The past few years have been a corporate lesson in agility—will it stick?

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The past few years have been a corporate lesson in agility—will it stick?

Will pandemic pivots turn into permanent solutions? Here’s what our research says about some of the things that have changed for corporate America and what we can expect next.

Abigail Matsumoto

December 17, 2021 | 5 min read

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COVID-19 has necessitated a lot of changes for corporate America, pushing business systems into the cloud and giving millions of employees more control over where and how they work. So far, companies have responded with impressive agility. Policies that once seemed risky or nonessential are now commonplace—and all signs point to a future of work that’s built on flexibility and innovation.

As companies look ahead, will they retain an agile mindset or revert to pre-pandemic business as usual? Let’s take a look at what our research says about some of the things that have shifted and what we can expect next.

Companies have accelerated their digital adoption

Buoyed by bigger budgets, IT teams are moving faster than ever. A full 74% of IT decision-makers ¹ say their organization has accelerated its adoption of existing software or technology in the past year and 70% say they’ve purchased new software and technology. Perhaps most significantly, decision-makers are adding completely new products to their tech stack—73% say they purchased more than a quarter of their software and technology from new vendors last year.

Businesses are also investing heavily in cloud services, with 50% of digital initiatives involving cloud apps and 44% involving cloud infrastructure. Digital initiatives around cybersecurity (45%) and data analytics (45%) have gotten a boost, as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

These are long-term investments in business operations, not stopgap measures to keep companies afloat during the pandemic, and many executives say they expect these changes to stick. This appears even more likely as the needs of remote workforces continue to evolve and more companies place a higher priority on technologies that are as secure as they are powerful. Pandemic-era digital adoption is not simply a sign of the times, it’s a harbinger of a new era of enterprise essentials. 

Employees expect to return to the office

As a direct result of the pandemic, many major companies have reimagined work as we knew it: adopting a hybrid work model, allowing for more flexible work, even vowing to let employees work from home indefinitely.  

Both companies and employees have benefited from this emergence of remote work options. For example, most employees previously needed to secure a transfer or quit their jobs to relocate, but as many as 1 in 5 employees relocated without quitting during the pandemic².

However, while 72% of current remote workers think their employer will have a more flexible remote work policy even after the pandemic ends³, the remote work revolution may not be as sweeping as expected. Among full-time employees who currently work from home, just 9% expect to be working fully from home next year⁴. 

The driving reason for this may be workers’ concern that remote work will limit their career trajectory. Nearly half (47%) believe that turning up to the office in person will lead to better career opportunities—and that working from home will leave them at a disadvantage. 

All together, this data paints a more complex picture of the future of remote work than many people might expect. Earlier this year, we found that 11% of workers said they were willing to quit their jobs over a lack of remote work options⁵. However, even as certain companies take steps to make remote work options permanent, employees’ fear of missing out may end up impacting exactly how many choose to go the work-from-home route.  

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Better employee perks may be here to stay

In industries that can’t offer employees a remote work option, many employers have focused on offering higher wages and improving their perks and benefits, work culture, and work/life balance during the pandemic. For example, many healthcare organizations offer hazard pay for employees who are working on the frontlines of the pandemic and have tried to improve their culture in other ways:

  • 39% provided more flexibility in work schedules
  • 36% added support for mental health
  • 29% introduced new vacation and sick leave policies
  • 24% expanded learning and development opportunities⁶

While perks like hazard pay are presumably temporary, other changes may last longer. Many companies are struggling with persistent staffing shortages and need to compete to retain employees. Half of all workers say their company is currently understaffed and 1 in 4 understaffed workers⁴ say they are less loyal to their company now than they were before the pandemic.

For the foreseeable future, companies will need to work to retain their workforce by offering attractive perks and benefits, as well as meaningful support for employees. As challenges continue to arise when it comes to retaining and attracting talent, it’s likely that employee wellness, satisfaction, and engagement will remain a high priority across competitive companies and industries. Staying agile and open to upgrading the employee experience may be what defines success for businesses moving forward.   

1Methodology: This Momentive study was conducted on July 26, 2021 among a national sample of 252 IT decision-makers. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the platform each day.

2Methodology: This Momentive study was conducted between July 12-14, 2021 among a national sample of 4,999 adults. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on our platform each day. Data were weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States.

³Methodology: This Momentive study was conducted between February 24-28, 2021 among a national sample of 1,560 employed adults who have been working from home. Data were weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States.

⁴Methodology: This Momentive study was conducted between conducted October 18-25, 2021 among a national sample of 11,227 adults. Data were weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States.

⁵Methodology: This Momentive study was conducted between June 2-8, 2021 among a national sample of 6,678 adults. Data were weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States.

⁶Methodology: This Momentive study was conducted in May 2021 among a national sample of 321 healthcare professionals. 

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