Over the past year and a half, many employees worldwide made the overnight shift to remote work. But what has that shift meant for an SMB’s technology tool chest and what they need to support their employee’s productivity?

According to the recent Digital Worker Experience Survey by Gartner, many tools saw a significant jump in usage in 2021. No surprise that many of these tools would allow an SMB or other business to replicate the in-office collaboration experience or enable their productivity from their home office or local coffee shop.

“As many organizations shift to a long-term hybrid workforce model, cloud-based, personal and team productivity technologies, along with collaboration tools, will form the core of a series of new work hubs that meet the requirements of various remote and hybrid workers,” said Gartner Principal Research Analyst Christopher Trueman about the findings.

One significant area of increase was collaboration tools, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype, which allowed employees to converse and share documents easily with their peers. According to Gartner, 44 percent more employees say they are now leveraging collaboration tools. In total, 80 percent of workers said they leveraged such tools in 2021, up from just half in 2019.

Employees also turned to meeting solutions, which allow them to replicate the experience of an in-person meeting in a digital way. These tools are also integrated with other technologies, like virtual whiteboards, chat, recording, and transcription to further meeting capabilities. Employees reported only spending 33 percent of their time on average in in-person meetings in 2021, down from 63 percent in 2019. Gartner predicts this shift will continue, dropping to 25 percent by 2024 as remote work trends persist.

Another technology category that saw a bump was storage and sharing tools. Seventy-four percent of employees said they were leveraging these tools, up from 64 percent in 2019. Real-time mobile messaging also saw a jump, rising from 75 percent of employees leveraging these solutions in 2019 to 80 percent in 2021.

While it’s hard to say for sure how long remote work will persist for a significant percentage of the workforce, it’s clear that it will be here for quite some time. Large companies like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, and more have said they will allow employees to work remotely indefinitely if they prefer. Meanwhile, others have returned to the office in force as local regulations allow them to do so. That said, no matter where an SMB or enterprise falls on this spectrum of remote work, the digital transformation benefits of the cloud, mobile, and collaboration solutions realized during the pandemic are likely here to stay.

 

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