How Has COVID-19 Affected IT Teams? - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

The workplace has been one of the environments most affected by COVID-19. According to a recent Gallup survey, 33% of American workers are still “always” working from home, down from a peak of 51% in April.

One Identity, which offers identity SaaS solutions that ensure businesses adopt a privacy-first approach, commissioned a global survey regarding how IT security professionals have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among the most interesting results from the 1,216-person survey:

  • 99% of IT security workers are working remotely at least part-time due to COVID-19.
  • Just 33% of respondents described the transition to remote work as “smooth.” 
  • 62% of respondents noted that cloud infrastructure is more important now than a year ago, with nearly 33% of respondents indicating this shift is due to COVID-19.
  • Just 45% of respondents indicated they are prepared for the IT challenges that will arise when people move back to work full-time. 

To Darrell Long, president and general manager of One Identity, the importance of the cloud both in the COVID-19 era and beyond is a crucial result of this study. “This research makes it clearly evident that cloud computing has been a lifesaver for many enterprises as IT teams pivoted and supported the massive shift to working away from offices.”

Long notes that pandemic-driven increase in data usage forced organizations to “turn their focus on the immediate challenges presented by the aggressive move to cloud computing, chiefly finding solutions that streamlined administering and securing who has access to what and how.” Data usage has increased 47% since the onset of the pandemic, and COVID-19 only accelerated the long-term trend toward cloud-based data storage. 

The most shocking result from the survey, however, is the fact that only 45% of IT professionals feel prepared to address the security challenges accompanied by a full return to the workplace. Long noted in the press release that IT teams had to “scramble” to keep their organizations afloat during the early days of the pandemic outbreak in the United States and that “most [IT teams] are still dealing with new challenges associated with this new working environment.” If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and distributed in short order, IT professionals could be forced again to adapt to large-scale changes in their workforce in a short period of time.

The Future of Productivity

While the One Identity survey did note that most IT professionals found the transition to remote work unsteady, a recent BCG survey of more than 12,000 professionals found that 75% of respondents felt they maintained workplace productivity in their new remote environments. Moreover, Silicon Valley titans like Facebook, Twitter and Square have announced optional permanent work-from-home. Mark Zuckerberg even noted in the announcement of the policy change that “some people report being even more productive” working from home than they were in person.

While most professionals, including those in the IT industry, are spending at least some work days remotely, it is still not clear what percentage of the workforce will remain remote after the pandemic concludes. Moreover, there are potentially real costs to working from home. Just 51% of the BCG respondents felt “they have been able to maintain or improve their productivity on collaborative tasks” remotely, suggesting that while productivity may remain stable in work from home environments, teamwork could suffer. Amazon seems to align with this more negative interpretation of remote work. In August, the world’s largest e-commerce company took the opposite tack as Facebook and Twitter, announcing a $1.4 billion investment in expanding to six new office locations. 

Despite some obvious bumps, one of the most amazing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the information economy, which includes IT professionals, has been incredibly resilient to an overnight shift in how people interact at work daily. If the pandemic is a guide, IT professionals will tackle future work-related changes successfully and continue to enable workplace productivity and collaboration, whether that is in the office, across global borders remotely or both.


Quinn Barry is a Tech Innovation Fellow from Stanford University covering the next generation of financial identity protection.

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