(BPT) - In 2020, the sudden shift companies made to remote work was seen as temporary. Unfortunately, due to the Delta variant and increasing COVID-19 infection rates, many companies that planned on employees returning to the office are adjusting their plans. A recent study assessed how small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are responding to these changing conditions — and what that means for the future of business. The study, JumpCloud’s 2021 Impact of COVID-19 on SMEs survey, gives an overview of these businesses' responses to the challenge, from vaccination incentives to remote work technology.
When reviewing these responses, you may want to ask — how does your company compare?
Businesses take steps to incentivize or mandate vaccines
In response to the uptick in COVID-19 cases since the Delta variant took hold in the U.S., responses vary to some degree depending on the region of that business.
While nearly 68% of the U.S. companies surveyed are taking steps to mandate vaccinations for employees, in Southern states that number drops to 56%, and companies in Northeastern states were the most likely to be mandating vaccinations (82%).
Over half of the companies surveyed (54%) are offering special incentives to encourage vaccinations: 72% offered paid time off work to get the vaccine, 50% offered a holiday with proof of vaccination and 66% offered cash or cash equivalent compensation.
To return or not to return: That is the question
The Delta variant put a wrench in the plans for many offices anticipating the return of employees in late summer. The dates the return was pushed back to vary widely. Over half (52%) of U.S. respondents are re-evaluating their plans to return to the office. An additional 17% have already delayed their “work in office” start dates. From those businesses surveyed who put off their workplace return past the summer:
- 28% delayed until September
- 21% are delaying until October
- 19% are delaying until November or later
- 33% do not have a firm timeline for returning
Health and safety measures
For those businesses who are planning for returning employees, many are putting in place additional protocols to help ensure workplace safety. These include:
- Requiring masks/PPE (61%);
- Requiring social distancing in workspace (57%);
- Limiting numbers of people in the workspace at one time (55%);
- Upgrading air filters/HVAC equipment (39%)
- Altering workspaces with physical dividers (39%)
How workplaces keep evolving
Just how much has changed in the past several months? A whopping 70% of U.S. companies will be offering work-from-home options indefinitely, or plan to put in place a hybrid model, where employees spend part of the week at home and part in the office, depending on their roles.
“SMEs continue to exhibit great resourcefulness, flexibility and initiative in responding to the pandemic and the Delta variant,” said Rajat Bhargava, CEO of JumpCloud. “As an SME ourselves, we know the current conditions are extremely fluid, and like the majority of respondents, we had to rethink and delay office return and hybrid workplace options.”
Many businesses learned that hybrid-remote work can be a long-term solution capable of bridging the gap between the flexibility of remote work with the benefits of in-person collaboration. With the hybrid-remote option, many employees and employers have struck the right balance — as long as they have the technology to make it work.
Technology upgrades to meet new business demands
With hybrid-remote options, a company's technology platforms — and security measures — are of paramount importance. To meet these increasing demands, JumpCloud's cloud directory platform offers integrated features like one-touch multi-factor authentication, conditional access policies, cross-OS device management and more to make it easier and more cost-effective for SME IT teams to adopt advanced security policies.
The company uses a Zero Trust Security philosophy: Every access transaction must be verified, whether through multiple factors of authentication, specific conditions around the device, network and geolocation or other methods before an individual can be authorized to use any given resource. With this enhanced security, IT teams can be confident as employees focus on what matters: making work happen.
With effective tools like these in hand, SMEs today are embracing the reality that permanent remote work and hybrid workplace models are here to stay. Visit JumpCloud.com to learn more.