The world has been through a tough lockdown in wake of sudden deadly spread of coronavirus. Abruptly, business came to a standstill. People who were working for a promotion round the corner suddenly didn’t know whether even they still have their jobs.
However, the world has reached a stage where economic activities are so densely interlinked that any disruption can affect business only so much. They always find a way. And they did.
Right before the lockdown, many IT companies distributed laptops and other equipment enabling work from home. Those who could not prepare in advance, tried to manage with whatever internet-enabled devices they personally owned. Few others distributed devices to their employees when lockdown eased.
Those who could not carry out any economic activity turned to either teaching or learning business and employee skills. Meetings and plans were made in online conferences. ‘Webinar’ became the new buzzword. And the use of applications such as Zoom and Google Hangouts burgeoned.
Schools and colleges began running online lectures. Even admission interviews for incoming students and farewells for outgoing ones were conducted virtually.
Foodies turned to recipe videos to satisfy their cravings while learning to whip the batter. People began exploring their hobbies by taking up courses online – for photography, art, baking, coding, finance and music, to name a few. Some started a blog, others their YouTube channels, while some began sharing their life stories on a Podcast.
I don’t know whether you noticed the common thread that ran through all, I repeat ALL, the above activities. It was the use of internet. It involved the user to be online.
People are developing new habits. They are learning that work can be done from home, that all meeting do not require long commutes, that exploring hobbies does not necessarily mean signing up for some classes in the neighbourhood, that after all working out may not need a gym and that explaining something over a video call was perhaps not so different than doing so in person.
While coronavirus will go someday, habits will stay. While physical conferences may begin again, webinars will take a lion’s share. While employees will return to office, businesses will know that some employees are better off working from home.
And that’s what the future of business will be, post-Covid. While we all had always known that WFH was an option, webinars could be conducted, meetings could be held online, and that learning could take place online; we had chosen to ignore the undercurrents of this coming change. Corona brought it to the fore, these technologies that were already present stared us right in the face, and the developments that could otherwise have taken perhaps another decade were brought into our habits within a span of months.
Going forward, we should not need another emergency of this magnitude to revamp our work in line with technology. We have learnt our lessons. We need to explore now – hybrid models of working at home and at office, skipping those meetings that could have been e-mails, cyber security, a proper system of data backups, cloud computing and virtual offices. The options are endless.
Study your business processes in detail. There’s a lot of room for improvement. Make those changes, and make them fast. If you are an employee, it’s time you became tech-savvy – irrespective of what work you do. If you are a student, technology is not an ‘option’ anymore – it’s there to stay.