Fortune poll: As businesses adapt to remote work, tech isn’t their biggest problem

April 20, 2020, 4:45 PM UTC

Most businesses were well prepared for their employees to work-from-home en masse, a new survey shows.

As states enacted stay-at-home orders and business closures to slow down the spread of the virus in mid-March, a Fortune-Adobe CIO Survey asked 200 chief information officers about this transition to remote working.

Turns out companies were confident in work-from-home from the start. A total of 84% of CIOs said their organization was already set up effectively for their employees to work remotely when the pandemic hit. And 71% of organizations expanded remote work access to more employees by March 16, finds the Fortune-Adobe CIO Survey.

One might think that large corporations with enterprise tech accounts would be leading in work-from-home practices, but it was actually smaller businesses who were best prepared for work-from-home. While 77% of CIOs at large firms thought their company was set up effectively for work-from-home, that number was 94% at small businesses. Decades ago, smaller businesses might have really struggled through something like this, but that was before the growth in free cloud services, like Google Drive, and telecommunication platforms like Zoom.

When we asked CIOs what proved to be the biggest challenge in their companies’ remote work, only 20% said hardware and 21% tech tools. The real issue: 53% said getting their employees to effectively communicate with one another is the biggest challenge of remote work. Communication is clearly something employers aim to improve upon as these stay-at-home orders drag on.

The Fortune-Adobe CIO Survey found 47% of CIOs said they expect the virus to slow hiring in their department. These tech bosses expect large investments in the areas of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and cloud. Since the survey was conducted in mid-March, the economy has set records for job losses—so it’s very likely those A.I. and cybersecurity investments will get pushed back.

*Methodology: The Fortune-Adobe CIO Survey was fielded between March 12 through March 16 and received 200 responses from CIOs. Participants had to be a CIO from U.S.-based companies with at least 100 employees. Participants were verified using publicly available information (e.g., LinkedIn profiles). Data collection was conducted by Advanis, a research firm and member of the Canadian Research Insights Council. 

Disclosure: Adobe teamed up with Fortune to conduct this CIO survey. Adobe interacts regularly with CIOs through its Adobe Experience Platform, a portal which provides IT and tech leaders with real-time customer data. 


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