Tech Trends & Future of Work

Back to Business as Usual?

As we enter the final quarter of 2021, amid ongoing vaccination efforts and as some businesses begin welcoming staff back to the office and holding in-person events, do decision-makers feel there will be a time when they go back to “business as usual”?

Data collection: August 3 - September 21, 2021

Respondents: 378 tech decision-makers

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Most think the COVID-19 pandemic will be declared “over” within a year, and that we will see a return to “business as usual”.

45% of decision-makers think the COVID-19 pandemic will be declared “over” within a year, though almost a third (29%) think it will take more than a year.

And while 80% of decision-makers feel there will be a return to “business as usual,” most (46%) think it won’t be until sometime in 2022.

“We are prepared for many different scenarios.”

- Director, large consumer goods company

“I think the definition of “business as usual” is changing and will continue to change. We will never be back to the 1990’s, but will return to a changed definition of normalcy.”

- Manager, large governmental organization

However, most remain concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, with variants the main worry

Three-quarters (75%) of decision-makers remain moderately or very concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of those who are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, the main concerns are the spread of the Delta variant (73%), the possibility of new variants emerging (62%), and the level of current vaccination rates (56%).

“It highly depends on the mutations.”

- C-suite, small healthcare company

Most have yet to attend an in-person business event in 2021, though those that have attended felt positive about being there

Most (70%) have yet to travel to an in-person business event this year.

Of those who have attended an in-person business event, over two-thirds (69%) felt positive about the experience.

“We are staying remote until further notice.”

- C-suite, large telecommunications company

Socializing is the most missed element of in-person business events—though most want to see vaccination requirements in place for future events

When it comes to what decision-makers miss most about in-person events, the social aspect comes top (44%), followed by networking opportunities (28%).

For any upcoming events, most decision-makers want to see proof of vaccination requirements (69%) and mask mandates (57%).

Proof of negative test requirements 35%, Onsite testing 28%, Self-reported health screening (e.g., app-based survey) 21%, Plexiglass (e.g., for booths, between lunch tables, etc.) 14%, Indoor dining prohibited 10%, None of these 7%, Other 1%

“Social distancing and handshakes continue to be a challenge.”

- Director, large retail company

“The only way to get back [to] business as usual is [to] vaccinate everyone.”

- C-suite, small software company

Leisure-based travel tops the list of activities decision-makers are excited about returning to, while the thought of large gatherings causes anxiety for many

If possible, the top activities decision-makers are excited about in the near future are domestic and foreign air travel for leisure (both 58%) and in-person business meetings (43%).

Foreign air travel for business 35%, Company in-person events 31%, Large private indoor gatherings 29%, Large public indoor gatherings 26%, In-person interviews (as interviewer or interviewee) 21%, Commuting to the physical workplace 18%, None of these 5%, Other 1%

On the other hand, the top activities decision-makers are anxious about are large private indoor gatherings (51%), large public indoor gatherings (50%), and foreign air travel for leisure (38%).

Domestic air travel for leisure 22%, Being in the physical workplace 21%, Commuting to the physical workplace 21%, In-person business meetings 17%, Company in-person events 16% None of these 14%, In-person interviews (as interviewer or interviewee) 13%, Other (fill in) 0%

“I want it over, of course. The Pandemic has accelerated our adoption of digital technologies to collaborate (which is a good thing) but will also have longer term social impacts if it continues for a long period of time.”

- C-suite, large software company

Respondent Breakdown

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