December 2019 saw everyone making grand plans for 2020 – a celebration of sorts. But with Covid-19, this year will definitely not be remembered in history for something big and positive.
Now in December 2020, I keep thinking to myself "Where are we as humans at handling this global pandemic?"
What has it taught us so far?
And what would the future look like – from a business and human perspective?’
Here is what I think:
Humans have proved to be resilient
It has been more than a year since the first reported case of this novel virus. There were a few of us cautious and prepared, while a few others waited, and yet another set – believed that this virus will die down on its own. Whatever our belief system, we as a human race have come out a resilient bunch. We are hopeful that the vaccine will enable us to put an end to this pandemic.
We are hopeful that our life will get back to normal. Meeting loved ones, greetings with hugs and being in the company of people – because at the end of the day – we are social animals.
Business perspective: this pandemic can be viewed as a catalyst that's pushing the old and bringing out the new.
Why do I say this? Here is what I think is going to happen in the next couple of years (which is fast becoming the new normal):
1. Physical office spaces:
With the outbreak of the virus, traditional companies were forced to reconsider the option for their employees to work from home. They were forced to reimagine their business structure – for its survival.
The first step to this was to trust its working team to be able to work and execute projects from home. With the positive traction that’s come about, corporates- have understood that it maybe more profitable for companies to opt for a flexible work scheme than expect its employees to be present in person in physical office spaces always.
How does giving up/ downsizing an office space benefit the company?
Some obvious reasons like - reduced rent and other costs associated with maintaining an office
With office commute almost nil, Mother Earth has benefitted largely. The time which was earlier spent on commute is better used to manage schedules by employees. This helps boost employee performance in the long run.
What happens from here?
Flexi working will become a norm rather than the exception.
The 5-day work week could become a 4.5-day work week.
Departments may choose to meet physically by rotation to maintain social construct.
Greater emphasis on the environment with more green initiatives and corporate responsibility in these areas becoming more of an active desire than a line on the financials.
2. Business Models – All Online / E-commerce?
This pandemic has forced many of us to rely on ordering in. From groceries to food and the infamous toilet paper – the way we shop have fundamentally changed. My personal bet is a growing demand for more businesses embracing the online over the physical. Isn’t it largely normal to browse online rather than shops, even now?
3. Global pool of talent
This pandemic is global. That also means, businesses are now thinking -global. And not just for suppliers and outsourced consultants, but also hiring resources around the globe. A phenomenon of hiring talent based on abilities and not restricted by geography. With the reduced need for physical office space and reliance on internet and video conferencing; companies and businesses - now have access to a global pool of resources; and they are starting to put this to good use
4. Scope for new industries and businesses
E-learning and emergence of global academies in educating the younger minds and upskilling eager minds
E- medicines and teleconsulting
Data privacy regulation – since there will be heavy reliance on tracking and tracing human data every millisecond.
Cryptocurrency – assuming the growing need to avoid transacting in physical currency in each geography rather have one universal currency for transacting globally.
It's all personal at the end of the day..
With the global pandemic, we also realize, that one person’s action/ inaction can either save or take away lives. We need our families more than ever – they are our support system. We are forced to evaluate our own priorities – our relationship to survive and get through the tough times.
But this pandemic has also taught us to be resilient to adapt, to think and come up with new ideas to solve existing and future threats/ dangers. As a species the urge to survive and fight back has never been stronger.
2020 is a year like no other, but hey! We have at least learned to slow down and evaluate what is important and how we can protect what is most precious to us – this earth, its people, our loved ones.