As the Covid-19 pandemic emptied offices and created a new generation of mobile workers, businesses around the world were forced to make a rapid and unplanned transition to remote working. For many companies, the IT department became the unsung hero of the crisis, playing a pivotal role in ensuring continuity, resilience and productivity.

Now, as businesses large (500+ employees), medium (200-499), and small (50-199) look to understand the long-term effects of the pandemic, there are still significant challenges for IT managers to overcome to build resilience and manage continued operational disruption and financial pressure.

As our research shows, a big shift is underway, with desktop PCs being retired in favour of mobile technology, such as laptops and tablets – stretching IT budgets and potentially compounding the global electronic waste (e-waste) crisis.

The world already generates 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste each year, according to the UN’s ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2020’ – the equivalent of throwing away 1,000 laptops every second – and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on these figures is yet to be seen. Both governments and business must confront this growing environmental challenge now, as despite the pandemic, consumer pressure to act on climate change has not disappeared. With e-waste on the rise, flexible working here to stay, and IT budgets forced to go much further than before, there is no shortage of challenges ahead. As this report reveals, the leading IT decision makers are adopting new, more sustainable ways of managing IT that delivers technology’s many benefits – productivity, creativity, collaboration – through access to IT devices, not ownership of them. We discuss the road ahead for IT decision makers, as they balance the demands of business resilience, financial responsibility and sustainability in the context of Covid-19.



3 step IT report

Download the report here to discover how BNP Paribas 3 Step IT Circular Economy model helps customers achieve their sustainability targets.

● 84% of companies purchased new IT for remote working during Covid-19
● Two-thirds of businesses plan to allow employees to remain working from home
● 1 in 10 IT decision-makers confess that they have dumped old IT assets in landfill

INTERNATIONAL E-WASTE DAY, 14 OCTOBER 2020: New research released today by Technology Lifecycle Management provider, 3stepIT, has revealed that the global pandemic has rapidly accelerated the digital transformation of businesses across Europe.

As remote working took hold on a phenomenal scale this year, 84% of European businesses purchased additional hardware to maintain operations, with nearly half of IT strategies now including home working and social distancing as key objectives.

With 60% of businesses now planning to allow employees to continue to work from home, 3stepIT’s research hints at a devastating impact for the planet, with millions of desktops set to become obsolete. The research shows almost a quarter (23%) of desktop PCs are not expected to be needed over the coming year.

53.6Mt of e-waste is generated every year (the equivalent of throwing away 1000 laptops per second) and despite growing consumer pressure on businesses to operate sustainably, there is still widespread uncertainty among businesses about how to consume technology responsibly.

Of the businesses surveyed, 36% admitted they did not know where their e-waste ended up. One in 10 IT decision-makers confessed to dumping old technology in landfill, suggesting the devices abandoned during the pandemic could add to growing levels of harmful business e-waste.

CEO, 3stepIT, Carmen Ene, said:

“For many businesses, the IT department has been the unsung hero of the pandemic, shouldering the burden of business resilience, continuity and even employee wellbeing. Most are still facing an uphill battle to modernise quickly, while juggling the demands of budget restrictions and growing pressure to operate sustainably.”

“With global e-waste volumes rising, and potentially accelerated by the impact of the pandemic, businesses must adopt a greener, circular way of consuming technology.”

Forward-thinking companies have seized this opportunity to transition to greener IT practices, having understood the tangible business value it delivers – improved efficiency, profitability, security and, crucially, resilience. Sustainable IT isn’t just better for the planet, it’s better for business too.”

The new research is explored in ‘The State of Business IT 2020’ report, which quizzed over 1000 IT decision makers across the UK, Europe and Nordic countries.

Highlights include:

  • 84% of companies purchased additional hardware to enable employees to work at home during Covid-19.
  • 60% of businesses plan to allow employees to continue remote working.
  • 23% of desktop PCs are not expected to be required over the coming year.
  • 31% of IT decision makers see sustainability as central to their IT strategies and 65% have e-waste targets in place.
  • Despite this:
  • 36% don’t know where their electronic waste ends up.
  • 25% admit that old or broken IT assets are locked in storage.
  • 10% confess to dumping old IT assets in landfill.
  • Over half (56%) of IT decision makers request that governments put mandatory reporting or targets in place to force businesses to sustainably dispose of IT assets.


The research was carried out using an online questionnaire and conducted through specialist B2B sample panels conducted by independent research house Omnisis that identify the individual with overall responsibility for IT budgets in organisations employing more than 50 people.

Legal Support Network surveyed legal firms and they couldn’t have been clearer.

When it comes to impact on a firm’s efficiency and competitiveness machine learning, AI and mobility and agility wiped the floor with other areas.

If we focus on mobility and agility, let’s consider the following areas:

  • How mobile/agile are firms today?
  • Why is a mobile and agile workforce important for legal firms?
  • What benefits will a mobile and agile workforce gain?
  • What challenges will a mobile and agile workforce present?

When Microsoft and Legal Week surveyed legal professionals, the results spoke volumes:

  • 64% said it was difficult to work to the same standard remotely, due to the lack of portable devices
  • Only 20% said their firm equipped them with the right technology to work seamlessly remotely
  • 86% said they still use a pen and paper to complete work

These two pieces of research are fascinating. On the one hand legal firms have clearly identified mobile/agile working as a core focus. While on the other hand, professionals say that their ability to be mobile and agile is being hindered.

There is also a deeply entrenched working culture of pen and paper, which prevents firms from embracing technology. This will simply have to change as competition from more agile, tech-savvy competitors stiffens.

New players are well equipped to meet changing expectations of clients, who want a rapid, responsive service, and to see firms use technology in innovative ways. Legal IT Consultant – Neil Cameron said in Legal Week ‘‘It’s one of the most important factors that clients think about when they’re picking a law firm: how does this law firm collaborate with us? How are they using technology?’’

It’s not only the improvement in services to clients that mobile and agile working delivers. Firms who equip their employees with the technology they need to work remotely, will find they are better positioned to attract and retain employees. This point is particularly pertinent as legal firms try to recruit millennials. Cameron says “These employees are wondering why it isn’t as good to use the technology in the office as it is at home.” And these young employees will expect and demand to work in fluid environments, where they can be flexible and mobile. Firms who can provide that fluid environment, will meet those expectations; be seen as a more attractive employer; find it easier to retain staff; and probably improve the service they offer their clients too.

However, as with all change, a mobile and agile workforce presents challenges:

  • Data security – a worrying trend of Bring Your Own Device in the legal sector means a loss of control for firms. How do you control what’s on those devices, especially with new data protection regulations around the corner? How do you protect those devices? And do employees want IT tampering with their personal devices?
  • Performance and reliability – as mobile working becomes the new norm, how do firms ensure the devices are performing at the optimum level? Those devices need to be reliable, otherwise they hinder rather than help the mobility initiative. 
  • Cost management – a proliferation of devices, has inevitable cost implications. How should firms manage growing IT costs? How can they ensure predictable IT costs in the future?

Firms who adopt a life cycle approach to IT, can more easily manage the challenges associated with a mobile and agile workforce. The life cycle approach is designed to improve the way firms acquire, manage and replace their IT.

Regularly refreshed devices not only provide a better service, they reduce the total cost of providing that service as well.

Learn more here.