Third of employees worried firms will undo tech changes implemented during Covid, poll finds

While the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation strategies, many workers are concerned businesses will return to the old way of doing things

More than a third of workers are worried that progress made in the use of digital technologies by employers during the coronavirus outbreak could be lost when firms start returning to normal, a poll has found.

A survey of 4,000 employees and business leaders by the Workforce Institute at UKG found the majority of organisations had made big advances in their use of digital technologies since the start of the pandemic – including rolling out the use of mobile apps and self-service digital tools.

But while the majority of employees polled (60 per cent) said they hoped their organisation would keep the technological and policy changes implemented during the crisis, 38 per cent said they worried their business would return to the old way of doing things post-pandemic.

The research also found that while the pandemic had accelerated the pace of change, many firms could have responded to the outbreak better if more modern business technologies were already part of their way of working.

Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) said the pandemic had accelerated their digital transformation projects, with 75 per cent saying this was by between one and three years.

Similarly, three quarters of employees polled (76 per cent) said they had used at least one new technology or application during the crisis. This included a third (36 per cent) who started using mobile applications to complete some or all of their work, and 24 per cent who said they were given access to more self-service digital tools.

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A third of business leaders polled (34 per cent) said that in response to the outbreak they accelerated the deployment of critical technologies. One in three (30 per cent) said they decided to replace a software vendor, while 29 per cent said they found the budget for technology they had previously was deemed too expensive or unnecessary.

However, 42 per cent of workers said their organisation was slow to embrace new technology before the pandemic, while 44 per cent reported their company’s response to the pandemic would have been smoother if modern technologies had been in place before.

Peter Harte, group vice president for EMEA at UKG, said coronavirus had forced digital transformation upon companies in a very short period of time. 

“It’s now imperative [businesses] have a technology roadmap to aid them in thriving throughout the remainder of 2021 and into the future to keep pace with developments to not only protect their bottom line, but also to meet the needs of their people and customers,” he added.