Sapphire Ventures Survey on Workforce Trends Indicates Greater Acceptance of Work-From-Home Strategies
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, if you asked company executives for a picture of what their employees working at home would look like, many would envision something like pajama-clad people, frittering away time playing video games, sleeping all day, or otherwise avoiding work. They feared that when employees no longer showed up to a physical office, their productivity would plummet.
Those out-of-sight, out-of-control fears weighed heavily.
Then suddenly, the pandemic’s shelter-in-place restrictions hit and companies had no choice but to put work-from-home strategies in place. It was either that or stop doing business at all.
Now, we’re far enough into this inadvertent, unplanned large-scale experiment on distributed workforces to begin drawing some conclusions about what happens when so many people work from home.
Sapphire Ventures Explores Impact of COVID-19 on Startup Work Environments
Some interesting data emerged from a Workforce Trends Survey by Sapphire Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in expansion-stage companies. (Full disclosure: Sapphire Ventures is an investor in Splashtop.)
Echoing many of the findings of Splashtop’s own recently published survey, the Sapphire Ventures survey indicates that productivity when working at home tends to remain steady or even increase, not diminish.
Here are a few highlights from the Sapphire Ventures survey:
- 74% of the high-growth startups surveyed believe there will be a longer-term change in the mix of in-office and remote workers as a result of COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions.
- 82% say that the level of communication and collaboration among employees has stayed the same (44%) or increased (38%) since they’ve been working remotely.
- 91% report that productivity has stayed the same (53%) or actually increased (38%) with remote work.
- 72% expressed support for moving to a more distributed workforce.
- The top three drivers for moving to a more distributed workforce were employees’ comfort and well-being; access to talent; and cost.
In an interview in Business Insider, Sapphire Ventures President and Managing Director Jai Das discussed the effects of COVID-19 from the perspective of how the resulting economic downturn affects startups. “An economic downturn accelerates what happens with startups. That means the good ones can pop,” he said.
In the article, Das pointed to several trends he sees developing during this pandemic period:
- The need to manage online performance. “When you can’t see [employees], how can you evaluate their performance?” He counsels companies with employees working remotely or in different locations to establish accurate, well-understood key performance indicators (KPIs), “…then give people a chance to make sense of them.”
- The rise of identity-based security. “The digital transformation of security has to be done now.” One of the main changes to emerge from this period is the widespread replacement of passwords with identity-based authorization.
- A hybrid approach to conference attendance. Future conferences will likely mix digital and on-premises attendees. “Every aspect of our lives will be affected by the quarantine, and hopefully we’ll learn how to appreciate the real-life aspects more.”
Now that more companies are announcing extensions of their work-from-home options beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reassuring to find that—with the right technologies and processes in place—both businesses and their employees can continue to thrive and be productive, even if they no longer show up together at the same office.