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Gartner: Top risk in workplace - second wave of COVID-19

Survey by Gartner reveals 49% of executives see remote working as a chance for cost saving during this “unique window for enterprise” in the new normal

Janet Brice
|Oct 26|magazine5 min read

 A second wave of COVID-19 topped the concerns for global industries during the third quarter of 2020, reports Gartner who surveyed 119 senior executives.

The survey revealed the majority of top 10 emerging risks had a direct connection to the pandemic. But executives did report a chance for cost savings due to a rise in remote working dubbing this a “unique window for enterprise”.

“The consistency with which executives around the world are highlighting the second wave of COVID-19 as the top risk is notable in light of a looming and significant US presidential election, continued extreme weather events and broad social instability,” said Matt Shinkman, vice president with the Gartner Risk and Audit Practice. 

“The pandemic has either exacerbated many of the other risks noted by executives in our report or created entirely new sets of operational risk areas, so it makes sense that concerns over a second wave predominate,” he said.

Change in working practices

A second impact of the pandemic is the change to working practices with executives reporting that 19% of their workforce will be permanently remote - compared to just 10% pre-pandemic.

“We are beginning to see executives come to terms with prolonged remote work in a way that wasn’t feasible in the early stages of the pandemic, with the abruptness of the move revealing large operational holes in the ability to manage people and risks,” said Shinkman.

“Our data now shows that HR leaders have drastically stepped up their programmes for monitoring employee productivity, with 73% indicating they are partaking in some sort of monitoring, compared to less than half in April,” he said.

New opportunities

Gartner reports executives are seeing new opportunities in the changing workplace landscape:

  • 49% see remote working as a chance for cost saving
  • 27% highlight the potential for productivity gains

“The reality of prolonged remote work provides a unique window for enterprise risk management teams to shape the right policies to both encourage productivity, gain cost efficiencies and make sure the organisation is protected from a cybersecurity perspective,” said Shinkman

More detailed analysis is available to Gartner clients in the full report and webinar recording 3Q20 Emerging Risks Report and Monitor. Non-clients can complete free registration to read more in Emerging Risk Trends.

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