Remote working is here to stay, says Ginni Rometty

Former IBM boss suggests that the acceleration of digital transformation will continue after the pandemic

Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Remote working and digital transformation plans won't go back to normal following the release a COVID-19 vaccine, according to IBM's former CEO Ginni Rometty.

Speaking to CNBC, IBM's executive chair said that remote work was "here to stay" as part of a hybrid model of working. 

The comments come just days after reports of a potential coronavirus vaccine with a 90% success rate in late-stage trials. Shares in services that had been heavily used during the pandemic, such as Zoom, Amazon and Netflix, all slumped after the announcement, suggesting a return to the old ways once the vaccine is ready. 

However, Rometty doesn't believe that will be the case, saying it would be hard to go back to the old ways now the world had seen what is possible. 

"I actually don't think these technology trends are going to reverse themselves," Rometty told CNBC. She said that a vaccine "allows us to return to perhaps a bit of a more new normal. But a number of these things in the hybrid way of working I believe will remain, and the digital acceleration will continue because people have now seen what is possible."

A number of businesses began welcoming employees back into the workplace after the first lockdown, with the government also urging a return to work to help boost the economy. However, a second national spike in coronavirus cases has led to a second autumn lockdown

The promise of a vaccine is seen as the safest way to move out of the pandemic, but many want a more balanced home-work setup. Early in the year reports suggested the UK public wanted to move to two or three days in office, with many keen not to go back at all.

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Not everyone agrees, however. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella warned that switching fully to remote working could have negative effects on wellbeing, learning and collaboration - despite his own company ushering in more varied remote working policies. 

"Learning, reskilling, onboarding is going to become a huge issue and we need to be able to incorporate the learning content into a workflow that is natural," he said.

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