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Gartner: 51% of global knowledge workers will be remote by 2021-end

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This year, remote work will drive PC and tablet shipments to over 500 million units for the first time in history

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By the end of this year, 51 per cent of all knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely, up from 27 per cent in 2019, global research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc said in a press release on Tuesday.

Gartner also estimates that remote workers will represent 32 per cent of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021 – up from 17 per cent in 2019.

The company defines knowledge workers as those who are involved in knowledge-intensive occupations, like writers, accountants or engineers. Gartner defines a remote worker as an employee working away from his/her company, government, or customer site at least one full day a week (hybrid workers) or those who work from home (fully remote workers).

“A hybrid workforce is the future of work, with both remote and on-site part of the same solution to optimise employers’ workforce needs,” said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.

Remote working varies considerably around the world depending on IT adoption, culture and a mix of industries.

In 2022, 31 per cent of all workers worldwide will be remote (a mix of hybrid and fully remote). The United States will lead in terms of remote workers in 2022, accounting for 53 per cent of the US workforce. Across Europe and the UK, remote workers will represent 52 per cent of the workforce in 2022, while remote workers in Germany and France will account for 37 and 33 per cent, respectively.

India and China will produce some of the largest numbers of remote workers, but their overall penetration rates will remain relatively low with 30 per cent of workers in India being remote and 28 per cent in China working remote, Gartner said.

Gartner: 51% of global knowledge workers will be remote by 2021-end

Impact on how IT is procured and used through 2024

The lasting impact of remote work is resulting in a reassessment of the IT infrastructure that shifts buyer requirements to demand work-anywhere capabilities.

“Through to 2024 organisations will be forced to bring forward digital business transformation plans by at least five years. Those plans will have to adapt to a post-Covid-19 world that involves permanently higher adoption of remote work and digital touchpoints,” Atwal said.

Digital products and services will play a big role in these digital transformation efforts, according to Gartner. This longer strategic plan requires continued investment in strategic remote-first technology continuity implementation along with new technologies such as hyperautomation, artificial intelligence and collaboration technologies to open up more flexibility-of-location choices in job roles.

A hybrid workforce will continue to increase the demand for PCs and tablets. In 2021, PC and tablet shipments will exceed 500 million units for the first time in history, highlighting the demand across both business and consumer markets, the company said.

Gartner: 51% of global knowledge workers will be remote by 2021-end

Organisations also deployed cloud to quickly enable remote workers.

Gartner forecasts worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow 23 per cent in 2021 as CIOs and IT leaders continue to prioritise cloud-delivered applications, such as software as a service (SaaS).

SaaS applications are designed for remote access and aren’t constrained by the location of the workers using the application.

Social and collaboration tools will continue to be a “must have”, which will help the worldwide social software and collaboration revenue market to increase 17 per cent in 2021.

In terms of connectivity, many organisations have had to change and adapt a variety of IT approaches to ensure business continuity among their remote workers.

By 2024, at least 40 per cent of all remote access usage will be served predominantly by zero trust network access (ZTNA), up from less than 5 per cent at the end of 2020, Gartnet said.

While most of these organisations will not completely retire all their client-facing VPN services, ZTNA will become the primary replacement technology, the firm added.

Published : July 14, 2021

By : THE NATION