23 Jun 2021
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Remote working trend continues, digital transformation plans brought forward

By Catherine Knowles

Remote working will continue to reshape how businesses and employees operate throughout the rest of the year.

In fact, Gartner finds that by the end of 2021, 51% of all knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely, up from 27% of knowledge workers in 2019.

Gartner also estimates that remote workers will represent 32% of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021. This is up from 17% of employees in 2019.

The analysts define knowledge workers are those who are involved in knowledge-intensive occupations, such as writers, accountants, or engineers.

A remote worker is defined as an employee working away from their company, government, or customer site at least one full day a week (hybrid workers) or who work fully from home (fully remote workers).

According to the analysts, remote working varies considerably around the world depending on IT adoption, culture, and mix of industries.

In 2022, 31% of all workers worldwide will be remote (a mix of hybrid and fully remote).

Gartner senior research director Ranjit Atwal says, “A hybrid workforce is the future of the work, with both remote and on-site part of the same solution to optimise employers’ workforce needs.

Furthermore, the lasting impact of remote work is resulting in a reassessment of the IT infrastructure that shifts buyer requirements to demand work-anywhere capabilities.

Atwal says, “Through 2024, organisations will be forced to bring forward digital business transformation plans by at least five years. Those plans will have to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world that involves permanently higher adoption of remote work and digital touchpoints."

Digital products and services will play a big role in these digital transformation efforts.

This longer strategic plan requires continued investment in strategic remote-first technology continuity implementations along with new technologies such as hyperautomation, AI and collaboration technologies to open up more flexibility of location choice in job roles, Gartner finds.

A hybrid workforce will continue to increase the demand for PCs and tablets. In 2021, PC and tablet shipments will exceed 500 million units for the first time in history, highlighting the demand across both business and consumer markets.

Organisations also deployed cloud to quickly enable remote workers.

Gartner forecasts worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow 23.1% in 2021 as CIOs and IT leaders continue to prioritise cloud-delivered applications, such as software as a service (SaaS).

SaaS applications are designed for remote access and aren’t constrained by the location of the workers using the application.

Social and collaboration tools will continue to be a 'must have' which will lead the worldwide social software and collaboration revenue market to increase 17.1% in 2021.

In terms of connectivity, many organisations had to change and adapt many IT approaches to ensure business continuity among their remote workers.

By 2024, at least 40% of all remote access usage will be served predominantly by zero trust network access (ZTNA), up from less than 5% at the end of 2020.

While most of these organisations will not completely retire all their client-facing VPN services, ZTNA will become the primary replacement technology.

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