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Coronavirus and the Future of Work

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike everything we’ve ever seen.

Since the viral outbreak was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the coronavirus has metamorphosed into a serious global health crisis and has changed everything about our lives. From then till now, more than 80,000 Americans have died, one in four Americans have lost their jobs, and half of humanity is under some form of lockdown, in a bid to contain the infection.

Everything about work has changed.

With only essential businesses allowed to open, organizations are now adopting remote working strategies so employees can now work from home, to comply with social distancing policies. The future of work appears to have arrived, only that most never thought it would be so soon.

Remote working: now, and forevermore

The need to comply with stay-at-home orders have spurred the remote working rush.

A Gallup poll of data from April 20 to April 26 has revealed that up to 63% of employees in the US have worked from home in the past seven days before that time. This is staggering compared to the 31% that was recorded three weeks before that poll. And just recently, Twitter declared that it will allow employees to work from home forever, even after the pandemic is over. Now more than ever having the right tools to work effectively from home are most critical to see, collaborate, chat and optimize your work from home strategy.

This, for sure, has presented huge opportunities and challenges for employers and employees alike. Regardless, businesses need to adapt to this reality to maintain resilience and ensure continuity. While there will be some lack of physical social interaction, the improved work-life balance and productivity benefits of remote working may as well mean that the future of work is now at home!

The rise of the gig economy

Over the past decades, employers have relied on contingent workers or freelancers mostly for short term projects and contracts. The global gig economy is worth as much as $5 trillion today. At a time like this, employers may find it beneficial to balance their workforce with both full-time workers and freelancers. This makes it much easier to scale up or scale down.

The flexibility of gig workers can help businesses maintain continuity during a crisis so they can adapt to unexpected developments. Fortunately enough, these freelancers work online and deliver on projects remotely, something that most businesses need right now.

But contingent workers still need the right guidance, along with performance measures to ensure they deliver value. This is why employers still need to develop effective talent management strategies to manage gig workers effectively. These workers bring much value to the table and most companies will want to continue leveraging this, long after the coronavirus is over.

A lot has changed with the coronavirus disruption. For employers and employees, it will no longer be business as usual. According to CNBC Make It, the pandemic may have certain long-lasting effects on the nature of work that may include:

  • Fewer meetings and more video conferring, emails, and IMs.

  • Fewer business travels and more telecommuting

  • More flexible working hours and a shift from standard 9-to-5

  • An increased drive to close the digital divide to encourage remote working

  • More automation for most administrative tasks, and possibly,

  • Mandatory workplace on-the-spot medical screening, among others.

The current crisis has presented opportunities and challenges that are reshaping work in some ways. This unexpected social experiment on the future of work will most likely open up capabilities and realities that will remain with us even after the crisis blows over.

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