Over the past few months, Burtch Works has teamed up with the IIA (International Institute for Analytics) to survey quantitative professionals about the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on analytics teams across the US.
Our initial survey covered several issues over five rounds, including changes to hiring and workload during the first few months of the crisis. In the results from our last survey, things seemed to be stabilizing a bit, and we decided to adjust our survey and questions to better address questions that we’re hearing from data scientists, analytics professionals, and their employers heading into July.
For the full report, a PDF report version can also be downloaded for free here, which includes more about the sample, survey methodology, and additional insights.
Round Six: Analysis Summary
When it comes to staffing and hiring impacts, as of July fully 50% of analytics and data science organizations have either suffered no impacts (42.1%) or have actually grown in size (7.6%). Of the organizations that did have one or more impacts, most seem to be stabilized (at least for now). Only 14.5% of respondents fear additional staffing and hiring actions at this time. However, with the rapidly evolving situation, it is impossible to predict if these trends will continue or reverse.
The 15.4% of people already working remotely before the crisis have already been joined by another 3.7% who now plan to permanently do so. Less than 25% of respondents currently see themselves back in an office before the end of the year. Another 25% think they may be back in an office sometime in 2021. The remainder are not sure when they may go back and have no current plans to do so.
Based on these figures and the overall positive reviews of remote work IIA and Burtch Works have heard thus far from their clients, it is reasonable to expect the number of workers staying fully or partially remote will increase as time passes. The longer-term impacts of remote work have not yet been measured, however, so it remains to be seen if today’s commonly positive view of it will hold. There are still many issues to work out regarding communications, culture, etc. in a remote workforce.
This month, we looked at people’s sentiment about both their own job and their company. Perhaps surprisingly, the positive sentiment associated with each was approximately 2/3. In fact, the response Very Positive was given nearly 1/3 of the time for each question. The sentiment towards one’s job and one’s company was tightly aligned. A full 3/4 of respondents provided the same sentiment for both and very few had strong mismatches.
Current Staffing and Hiring Impacts
Our analysis found that 7.6% of respondent’s organizations actually increased hiring due to COVID-19. These outliers represent the companies experiencing an increase in business. Another 42.1% of teams have experienced no staffing or hiring impacts thus far, meaning 50% of analytics and data science organizations have had no negative impact as we pass 4 months of crisis.
Of companies that have experienced staffing and/or hiring impacts, only 14.5% of respondents think that more cuts are coming. Everyone else thinks the situation has bottomed out and stabilized, at least for now. This is very positive news compared to many professions. At the same time, the crisis is evolving rapidly and there are no guarantees that these positive trends will continue. It is also plausible that the positive staffing trends and attitudes will reverse if the crisis extends and lockdowns are implemented again.
Work from Home Strategies
One of the biggest adjustments for many during the crisis has been the sudden shift to working remotely. We found that only 15.4% of people were already working remotely, but another 3.7% now say they have made a permanent shift to working remotely, which puts almost 20% of analytics and data science professionals in the remote category for the long term.
However, this figure is likely to increase, since less than 10% of respondents are either already in an office again or are planning to go back within the next 1 – 2 months. There is only another 15% that think they might return to the office before the end of 2020. Another 25.4% think they might go back some time in 2021, with the final 28.2% unsure of when they might go back.
As many have probably noticed, even executives who were resistent to the idea of remote workers just a few months ago are starting to embrace the idea. This trend is certainly helped by the potential operational cost savings and increased recruiting geographies that can be tied to remote workers, and some companies have been announcing permanent changes to their remote work policies.
Job and Business Stability – Employee Sentiment
Negative sentiment among respondents is the exception rather than the rule. Less than 20% of respondents are negative on either the outlook for their own job or the outlook for their company as a whole. Better yet, approximately 2/3 of respondents are positive on their job stability and 2/3 are also positive about their company’s stability as a whole.
It is also notable that only 5% – 7% of respondents are very negative on either their job or their company, while a full 1/3 are very positive. Time will tell if this optimism is warranted or not. Certainly, as of mid-July, it is clear that we can’t yet feel safe that things will only get better from here.
For the most part, people’s sentiment about their job matches their sentiment about the company. Our analysis showed that 74.6% of all respondents rated both job and company stability the same. There were very few cases of widely mismatched sentiment across the two questions.
For additional analysis around sentiment and present situation index, you can download the full report for free.