This month Technology Association of Oregon invited its member companies to weigh-in about their response to the outbreak of COVID-19. This was a follow-up survey to another COVID Response Survey answered by TAO members mid-March. For the second round of the survey, there were 52 responses from executive members of TAO member companies. The companies that responded range in size from two employees to over 125,000.
80% of the survey respondents had not taken the previous survey. For the 20% of respondents who participated in both surveys, the majority disagreed that their company’s response had shifted, but they were also more worried about the COVID outbreak than they were before.
Concern about the COVID-19 outbreak has increased. The percentage of respondents who identified that their company is “very concerned” increased from 68% to 87%. In the second survey, no one responded that their company is “not concerned” about COVID.
The biggest concern from member companies continues to be an economic impact due to disruptions in the normal course of business. The majority of respondents also continue to be concerned because they will be seriously impacted if a large proportion of the workforce is ill, regardless of location, and because they have a large number of workers who travel for business. Many companies are also concerned because they employ a large number of people in affected areas and/or globally.
The top-three member concerns with respect to COVID-19 are the potential for a global recession, financial impacts, and effects on workforce/reduction in productivity.
Pre-COVID19, more than half of the companies responded that only a quarter of their employees worked remotely. Nearly 10% of respondents had zero remote employees. Post-COVID, the vast majority of companies now have a remote workforce.
At the point when they responded to the survey, 94% of respondents had encouraged their employees to work remotely to minimize exposure to COVID-19.
The percentage of respondents who stated that their company has begun implementing their business continuity or pandemic preparedness plan has increased from 37% to 50%.
The percentage of respondents who have already canceled significant meetings or events, or anticipate they will have to, has increased, but so has the number of people who responded saying they don’t anticipate they will need to cancel events.
In the second survey, more companies completely agreed that they had asked workers to work from home more than usual, had arranged for greater flexibility to work from home, and had restricted or canceled business travel and internal meetings to reduce the risk of virus exposure or transmission.
When asked about company response to COVID, the responses between the two surveys were consistent. More people in the second survey agreed that their company has a plan to manage the risk of the coronavirus. More people also agreed completely that they have flexibility in their work schedule and obligations to take care of family members if needed.
The resiliency of the local tech community is clear: the majority of companies who responded estimate that if COVID-19 were to end today, it would take them less than a month to get back to business as usual. None of the respondents anticipated that it would take their company more than a year to bounce back.
In response to a write-in question about resources companies foresee needing to support their staff, a few themes emerged. Funding/capital/revenue/cash flow is needed for companies to stay in business. Some respondents mentioned a need for access to collaborative online tools like Zoom or Slack. There were also many responses that touched on more intangible, interpersonal factors like leadership, patience, empathy, and training for mental health and physical wellbeing. A number of companies already operate their businesses virtually and didn’t anticipate needing additional resources.