Research: The Process Industry at Home – Remote Work & Information Accessibility in EMIA

When I am writing this at the beginning of May 2020, we have all entered a new, unknown era. While the exact ramifications of the outbreak remain to be seen, many issues are rising from the current situation.

As a technology company, we were relatively well-prepared for a remote working scenario, and many of our teams were already used to working and collaborating remotely.

This, however, is not the case for everyone. With this in mind, we reached out to our network of industry professionals to ask how they are currently performing amidst the coronavirus, and to find out what are the issues and challenges they are facing. Our Remote Work & Accessibility Survey provided three key findings:

  1. Pivot from office to home office has been fast but has led to its own challenges.
  2. Slow response of tools causes the most significant effect on efficiency.
  3. The economic impact is already visible but hard to forecast.

From office to home
Based on our findings, not surprisingly, most places of work are currently closed (66%), and over 84% of the recipients are now working from home. This is quite a difference to the European Union average of 5.2% before the crisis. The change has been fast and mandated by external circumstances, leaving the companies little time to adjust.

So, what does this mean for productivity? It seems that there are three distinctive groups: a high-performing group who report to be as effective or even more efficient at home than in the office (16%), more or less the same performance at home than in the office (54%) and performing less efficiently (29%).

Honestly, it is great to see that the overall performance is good, but the question remains, what can we do for that 29% who are reporting being less productive at home than in the office?

Of course, there are many aspects of work-life-balance that go beyond the scope of what we can help with: having small children around, balancing work with home life, having to take care of sick family members … but from the perspective of work productivity itself, there were some key findings that might help us to support more efficiency.

Namely the fact that 44% of the recipients reported having more issues with slow response from systems.

Slow, slower, VPN
The findings of the survey show that a majority (56%) accesses data with a combination of a VPN and cloud, 31% via a VPN, and only 12.5% use mainly cloud solutions. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced VPN slowness during peak times in the past month or so; also from my experience, moving to a cloud-based environment can improve performance as the users who don’t necessarily need a VPN for on-premise systems won’t be using the connection.

As Gartner mentions on its 4 Trends Impacting Cloud Adoption in 2020, the cloud continues to be the “one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend.” Investing in a cloud adoption can help your organization not only improve access during the current situation but prepare for continued remote work scenarios for the post-crisis times.

The business impact
When asked about the effect COVID-19 has on work and business, the majority of the recipients mentioned that the effect is already visible. Many of the upcoming projects are being postponed, delayed or canceled, and overall external activities are slowed down.

Yet, there is a difficulty in forecasting what the final impact will be, as there are as many scenarios as there are experts. According to the International Monetary Fund, the European economy might shrink as much as 7% this year, and the April World Economic Outlook projects global growth in 2020 to fall to -3%.

For the Oil & Gas industry, we have already witnessed the drastic drop in oil price, with many EPC companies operating in that space reporting less activities and projects. What can digitalization and digital transformation practices due to help counterbalance the challenging time we find ourselves living in?

Our upcoming blog series will delve into more detail on the business impact of the current situation for the Owner Operator and EPC companies.

In the meanwhile, you can visit our landing page to learn how to Avoid Risk Resurfacing in Industrial Facilities or take a look at our Remote Work & Accessibility Survey infographic.

Stay healthy and safe!


Adrian Park
Adrian has been with Hexagon’s PPM division since 2007 and currently serves as the Vice President for Pre-sales for Europe, the Middle East, India & Africa (EMIA) region. From 2007 to 2018 he worked in Global Business Development for Information Management solutions. He is based in Sandnes, Norway.


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