The sudden shift to remote work has accelerated digital transformation strategies to accommodate more flexible ways of working and is prompting 62% of IT leaders to consider downsizing physical infrastructure and transitioning to a cloud model, according to a study by Citrix.

The study of 3,700 IT leaders in seven countries, also found that 42% said they anticipate introducing digital workspace platforms, and 44% are looking to public cloud services to facilitate long-term remote working.

Over three-quarters of respondents said they believe a majority of workers will be reluctant to return to the office as it was, the study said.

COVID-19 has put already stressed IT teams to the test as mandates designed to slow the spread of the virus have forced them to deliver digital work environments with unprecedented speed,” said Meerah Rajavel, CIO of Citrix, in a statement. “But as the results of our latest research reveal, they have responded and are stepping up their efforts to accommodate flexible models that will drive work for the foreseeable future.”

SEE: Guide to Becoming a Digital Transformation Champion (TechRepublic Premium)

Over two-thirds (69%) of the IT decision maker respondents said that it has been surprisingly easy for the majority of their employees to work from home, and 71% said the technology they have put in place has enabled them to collaborate just as effectively as they can face-to-face. In light of this, they are revving up their digital engines and implementing solutions to support remote work for the long haul, the study said.

However, the road to widespread remote work has not been easy, the study noted. Almost half (48%) of respondents said their organizations did not have a business continuity plan based on the vast majority of employees working from home, and 61% found it challenging to make the switch.

In addition, the study found that the fast and widespread adoption of remote work has opened a new set of concerns and challenges with which they must deal:
· 70% of IT leaders are worried about information security as a result of employees working from home.
· 54% said there has been a spike in employees installing unsanctioned software.
· 23% said that unscheduled virtual personal network (VPN) shutdowns have been a key problem for their department over the last few weeks.

SEE: 75% of tech workers ready for the office to reopen, but 63% still want a WFH option (TechRepublic)

All of this has taken a toll on IT teams, with over three-quarters (77%) reporting high stress levels. But there is a silver lining, Citrix said.

“This crisis has thrust IT teams–often the ‘unsung heroes’ of a business–into the limelight like never before,” Rajavel said. “They have worked to deliver secure, reliable work environments that are keeping employees engaged and productive and business moving in extremely challenging times. And in doing so, they will emerge from the crisis more strategic and valued by their organizations than they were going in.”

More than three-quarters of the IT leader respondents (77%) share this sentiment and said that IT is currently seen as “business critical to their organization,” while 55% believe that their new job title should be “working from home warrior” or “corporate savior,” according to the study.

Citrix said the study was based on interviews conducted in April/May 2020 with 3,770 IT decision makers within medium and large organizations from the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands. Respondents work in financial services, healthcare & life sciences, telecommunications/media technology, professional services, manufacturing, and retail, among others. The research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Citrix.

Image: Olga Romanova, Getty Images/iStockphoto