COVID-19 recovery: Are you investing in the right tech?

Productivity is rising in some firms – and falling in others. Here’s why

COVID-19 recovery: Are you investing in the right tech?

How is COVID-19 affecting workplace productivity across Australia?

One in four employers are seeing productivity rise in the era of remote working, but a similar percentage (25%) is reporting a fall in output.

Meanwhile, half of employers who shifted their teams to a work-from-home setup say employee productivity has remained the same throughout the crisis, a new report from Accenture consulting firm AlphaBeta revealed.

The biggest increases in WFH productivity are seen in the areas of media and telecommunications (40%), government and public services (38%), and education (36%).

“Productivity outcomes during COVID were better for more digitally advanced firms, especially those that had workers working from home,” the study said.

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An estimated 3.2 million home workers have learned to adopt new tech to ensure business continuity; half of whom would have otherwise fallen behind without proper digital tools.

Technology has played a crucial role in keeping businesses running for nearly nine in 10 Australian companies since the start of the pandemic. In fact, 13% say their digital tools are essential in crisis.

The impact of tech investments
Companies are accelerating their digital transformation during this period: the value of investments made in this short span of time already rivals the value of investments made in the past 10 years.

Firms that invest strategically in front office and back office tech are said to have stronger revenues, employment and profitability than those that lack focus on their digital transformation journey.

  • More digitally advanced firms are 16 percentage points more likely to see revenue increase
  • They are 15 percentage points more likely to increase headcount
  • They are 12 percentage points more likely to see an increase in profit

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Top firms are therefore adopting digital tools faster than they did prior to the pandemic.

“Much of the increase in digital adoption across technologies is likely to be permanent – with firms expressing a desire for continued use above pre-COVID levels,” analysts said.

Companies aim to increase use of the following digital tools post-COVID:

  • Video conferencing and online event platforms (45%)
  • VPN and ‘remote access’ solutions (32%)
  • E-signatures and other document management tools (31%)
  • File-sharing solutions (27%)
  • Cloud storage (26%)
  • Cybersecurity solutions (25%)
  • Ecommerce and payment platforms (24%)
  • Artificial intelligence (17%)

But while investing in new tools may have been the secret for Australian employers to stay resilient during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s only part of the equation, the study suggests.

Effective digital transformation is also supported by cultural change.

“Many Australian business introduced new workplaces practices such as flexible working hours (58%), new initiatives to increase social connectivity (50%), and new initiatives to support physical and mental health (50%),” analysts said.

Ultimately, employers that have embraced a new way of working during the pandemic – with the help of new policies – are said to have “three times stronger productivity outcomes, with 37% of businesses suggesting that their productivity increased either slightly or significantly,” the study said.

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