Economy Key
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George Kaplan

One third of UK businesses lack IT infrastructure to sustain Covid-19 remote working

UK businesses will struggle to maintain remote working practices for several months, due to a lack of technology support, according to new research commissioned by Leonne International, the global private equity specialists. The survey, which was conducted by Censuswide, quizzed 200 senior business decision-makers from large and medium sized companies on their responses to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The polling was conducted between Wednesday 18th March and Thursday 19th March after the Chancellor’s announcement of a £330bn package to support businesses cope with the outbreak. The survey revealed that cyber security risk fears, access to the necessary technology and support to manage staff working remotely were key concerns.

Key findings of the research were that 33 per cent of respondents said their company lacked the technology to manage constant remote working for several months. Additionally, 41 per cent said they plan to increase their IT and tech investment in the coming weeks to cope with the new remote working structure during isolation. This could be because 26 per cent say they lack the digital skills in-house in order to manage widespread and long-term remote working for staff.

Almost half, (47 per cent) agree that there should be more collaboration between the global business community to fortunate a plan of action in order to tackle the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

Tech expert Sridhar Iyengar, MD of Zoho Europe, said, “The Covid-19 crisis poses an existential threat to many businesses, with a significant number of companies completely unprepared for the sudden shift towards 100% remote working. With this in mind, it is vital that technology providers work together to offer free IT support and advice to those who need it, in an effort to protect jobs, livelihoods and the wider economy.

Iyengar continued, “With many businesses scrambling to introduce virtual meetings, manage projects online and provide essential daily briefings for employees, the tech industry has a moral obligation to step in and offer resources to help companies to adapt to this new way of working. The next few months are going to be tough, with millions of people worried about their jobs, health and their family’s future. It’s up to the IT industry to rise to this challenge, take and action and do everything possible to provide comfort and support during this difficult period.”

Jonathan Young, CIO, FDM Group, a FTSE 250 company added, “This threat has already forced many companies to fully integrate flexible working technology into business continuity plans. Whilst the sudden shift to complete remote working will be a shock for many, it’s vital to recognise that many organisations can operate without a formal office space. Despite millions of workers remaining isolated at home for the foreseeable future and juggling family commitments, workers still want to get online and do their jobs as efficiently as possible. It’s critical that businesses leaders take action to address these demands, bringing together digital talent from across the business to ensure every member of staff has access to online support and systems to continue operating as normal. Key to this effort is that senior management set the right example, using these online tools and platforms and ensuring that every member of staff follows suit and stays safe during this challenging time.”

Michael Haston, CEO, Leonne International concluded, “These are tough times for businesses, with the Coronavirus wreaking havoc and forcing thousands of companies to enforce mandatory remote working policies. It’s critical that companies are given the necessary financial support to respond to this threat, enabling businesses to invest in technology to ensure every worker can perform to the best of their ability, remotely.”

Cyber expert Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian warned of increased security risks, “It’s critical that businesses adjust to the ‘new normal’ and recognise that employees are now operating in unfamiliar working environments, with many using personal devices while working from home. Bosses should ensure staff avoid downloading new software, sharing company data and be vigilant to identify and report suspected scam emails. We know that cyber criminals thrive in exploiting vulnerable situations, so protecting the personal security of individuals and companies should be a top priority during this crisis.”

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