Any lingering doubts as to how much American consumers lean on technology has all but evaporated since COVID-19’s arrival.
According to a recent study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), 77% of respondents admitted they wouldn’t be able to access the things they need on a daily basis without today’s technology. This came as a wake-up call to most, as 75% acknowledged that the pandemic opened their eyes to just how dependent they are on digital services.
But this wasn’t the only revelation that came to light.
Consumers also have strong opinions on the transition to remote work and what they expect from working conditions in the future. Not to mention how they view organizations that weren’t prepared for the pandemic.
Consumers weren’t ready to work from home during COVID-19
As the pandemic spread and stay-at-home orders were issued, many Americans had to work remotely. Many struggled with the adjustment.
Sixty-two percent of those polled admitted that they weren’t prepared to transition to working from home during the pandemic. Still, while consumers were ill-equipped to adapt to these new working conditions, they believe working from home should remain an option even as offices begin reopening.
Roughly 85% agree companies should use the pandemic as a learning experience to make their employees’ roles more accessible to allow for remote work.
When looking back, the transition to working remote might have been smoother if more workers were equipped with the right technology, from laptops and other mobile devices to collaboration software, in addition to being trained in using that.
For businesses choosing to remain dispersed for the short or long-term, documenting all the changes that have happened since the early weeks of the pandemic shut down will be helpful. It also provides the opportunity to re-evaluate your business continuity plan and update it based on any hurdles you encountered.
Of course, if employers are going to consider allowing employees to work from home moving forward, security precautions must be a priority.
Now’s the time to re-educate your employees on the latest security threats and scams, everything from phishing attacks to malware. Make sure your networks are segmented and monitored. Check that all devices connected to your organization’s VPN have up-to-date security patches, are using antivirus software and have active firewalls. And, remember, everyone who connects to your VPN should be using multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Companies must be looking ahead to the next disaster
Consumers were not prepared to address many of the challenges brought about by COVID-19. They agree they cannot afford to be caught off guard again. And they’re looking to their employers to get ahead of things.
Nearly 90% of those polled believe companies should use the pandemic as a lesson on how to better prepare for future emergency situations.
That includes hurricanes, cyberattacks, power outages, equipment failure and more, all of which might arise while companies are still managing the pandemic.
Companies must address the possibility of workplace unavailability and create recovery plans that take into account current working environments. Make sure your plans offer flexibility for both your business and IT infrastructure in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Don’t forget to consistently update and test your recovery plan as your business and the surrounding environment evolves. This will ensure you can catch and address any new vulnerabilities that may pop up as a result of changes to your business.
Consumers learned a lot about themselves during COVID-19 lockdowns. Especially that they, and their employers, weren’t as prepared as they may have thought. Now, they expect companies to take the lessons learned from the pandemic and make sure they’re not caught flat-footed again.
Interested in the full findings from the research? Download them now.