One in three firms ‘lack IT skills to work remotely’

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Businesses will struggle to manage remote-working practices for several months during the Coronavirus outbreak, according to new research released today.

The survey, which questioned 200 business decision-makers in UK SMEs about their response to the Covid-19 crisis was commissioned by Leonnne International, the global private equity provider.

It found that one of third of UK companies felt they lacked the IT and technology infrastructure to continue operating remotely for many months throughout the crisis.

The news came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major lockdown across the country in response to soaring numbers of infections and deaths.

The survey revealed that 41 per cent said they plan to increase their IT and tech investment in the coming weeks. This could be because 26 per cent cent said they lack the digital skills in-house to manage widespread and long-term remote working for staff.

It’s vital to recognise that many organisations can operate without a formal office space

Almost half, (47 per cent) agree that there should be more collaboration between the global business community to formulate a plan of action to tackle the disruption.

The technology industry which quick to respond to the findings, with Sridhar Iyengar, head of Zoho Europe calling on the IT industry to offer companies free support.

“With many businesses scrambling to introduce virtual meetings, manage projects online and provide essential daily briefings for employees, the tech industry has a moral obligation to step in and offer resources to help companies to adapt to this new way of working,” he said.

The FTSE 250 IT training specialists, FDM Group, also called for increased collaboration. CIO Jonathan Young urged employers to help workers remain productive despite the chaos.

He said: “This threat has already forced many companies to fully integrate flexible working technology into business continuity plans. It’s vital to recognise that many organisations can operate without a formal office space.

Despite millions of workers remaining isolated at home for the foreseeable future and juggling family commitments, workers still want to get online and do their jobs.

“It’s critical that businesses leaders take action to address these demands, bringing together digital talent from across the business to ensure every member of staff has access to online support and systems to continue operating as normal.”

 There were warnings of an increased cyber risk associated with remote working. Security expert Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, said: “Bosses should ensure staff avoid downloading new software, sharing company data and be vigilant to identify and report suspected scam emails.”

Commenting on the research, Leonne International CEO Michael Haston said: “These are tough times for businesses, with the Coronavirus wreaking havoc and forcing thousands of companies to enforce mandatory remote working policies. It’s critical that companies are given the necessary financial support to respond to this threat, enabling businesses to invest in technology to ensure every worker can perform to the best of their ability, remotely.”