Although these are unprecedented times, arguably not everyone has been taken completely by surprise by the coronavirus outbreak. Bill Gates, who had been warning of the likelihood of a pandemic for many years, is one prominent example, as proven by TED Talks from many years ago which now make for eerie viewing. Meanwhile, those who work in business continuity planning will also have been holding their breath for the day that their contingency strategies would be put to the ultimate test – and watched as their plans were put into action back in March.

So, how prepared were companies to deal with such a seismic challenge? To find out more, we partnered with leading technology network CIO WaterCooler to run a global survey of IT leaders and CIOs. You can download the full report at the end of this article; meanwhile, here’s some of the key findings:

Business Continuity Planning

The purpose of a fully functioning and robust business continuity plan is for it to identify possible threats to a company, the impact, and how to mitigate those threats. Within this, the IT function has a critical role to play, and during the global pandemic there has never been a more critical time than now to have the right processes in place.


We wanted to identify how rugged those processes were in the midst of the global pandemic and the findings from our report show that only 45% of business had an overall pandemic response prepared as part of their business continuity plans prior to December 2019. This is compared to 55% that didn’t.

To get more clarity, we drilled down into the company sizes which allowed us to see a clear difference between organisations:

Of those with 10,000 staff or more, 29% didn’t have any business continuity plan in place with a pandemic response. In comparison, 63% of companies with staff levels between 1,000 – 4,999 failed to include a pandemic response in their business continuity plan. For smaller companies where the staff numbers were 500 or less, 68% didn’t have a business continuity plan in place with a pandemic response. There is a clear difference between the larger companies being prepared and the smaller companies, which could be linked to scale and reach. A large company with a global reach, dependent on different territories for turnover, may be more inclined to consider the wider implications of a pandemic than a small company that relies solely on domestic turnover.

Companies are having to adapt quickly. Those without the necessary skilled staff will have to rely on expert recruiters to attain the right talent during an unprecedented and critical time to oversee change.

Technology Stack

The importance of the technology stack cannot be underestimated. It is the underlying element behind web or mobile applications and those underlying elements are a combination of frameworks, programming languages, software and servers. The respondents to our survey have been heavily involved in the key technology changes made within their businesses, especially the reliance on the right infrastructure for remote working to remain productive.

James Barrett, Regional Director, Michael Page Technology, commented: “In recent years there has been an upward trend in flexible working. Despite this trend, fully remote working and completely virtual interview processes were the exception over the norm.”  What we have seen is that in the 1980s approximately 20% of the UK workforce had access to some type of flexible working and in 2016 this increased to 25%. According to the CIPD, this number accelerated to over 50% in 2018. James added: “As social distancing has been accepted as a necessary precaution, we have increasingly been able to advise and support companies and candidates to successfully navigate recruitment processes, where the logistics and new mindsets, and technologies have required experimentation and pragmatism.”

That required experimentation and pragmatism also means businesses are also having to consider their options, such as the adoption of using serverless technology like AWS. These cloud computing options can manage workloads, run batch processing and databases, thus reducing the overhead costs. A cloud-enabled desktop workspace for example, provides a comprehensive managed solution which will allow employees to log in remotely from anywhere in the world.

Remote Working

Our findings show that 33.3% of small medium business are indeed better equipped for remote working, as opposed to 10.4% of larger companies. This could be as much to do with the organisational structure as it is to do with the nature of business. It is no great surprise to see that manufacturing and consumer products and services have faced a difficult time of late. Whilst those within the technology sector and financial services have a higher number of staff working remotely.

It is clear that the cultural shift required for the management of teams provides a unique challenge, but regular contact with staff, whether it be via video calls, or other means of communication, is key in maintaining the necessary level of productivity and morale of teams going forward.

To download the full free report, please click here. If you are also looking to hire top talent and onboard them remotely, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today for a confidential discussion.