LAST time out, we looked at what the post-pandemic landscape might look like for the consumer. With so much experience gained during an extended period when most everyone did everything from the security of their own homes, it is inevitable that the lessons learned will translate themselves into transformational initiatives, both for the consumers and for businesses.
Having looked at how businesses may reinvent themselves as far as product and content distribution is concerned, let’s see how it may also transform the way businesses run their operation after Covid leaves us, whenever that happens to be.
If you had asked me sometime in early March 2020 if I thought I could manage a business entirely remotely, I would probably laugh and tell you you were crazy to even suggest the idea. And yet, almost a year hence, I have been able to do so without having set foot once in a physical office. Amazing. And yet, really not a big deal.
We may be fortunate in the services sector in that we don’t physically have to make “stuff” in a specific place, with a specific set of machines and specialized equipment. A good deal of what we do is processed by computers, moved around though the Web and stored in the Cloud. No more than 20 years ago, someone reading this would probably imagine working with spiders while staring at the sky, but such is how things are done today. Service, as we know it, has been transformed not only in terms of how they are delivered, but also in how they are performed.
In the pandemic period, though, where they may be performed has also been a matter of great revelation.
Back in safer days, we took it for granted that we would have to report to work, log into our computers and perform our tasks within the confines of a physical office space. In actual fact, many of us carried our laptops with us between home and office anyway, so it stood to reason that if we could log in at home, we could work from that location as well. And for many of us, the answer also was that yes, we could indeed connect from our homes, but since working at the office was the paradigm well before computers were even invented, nobody really bothered to ask if it should still be the same as computers became ubiquitous.
It’s taken a Black Swan event like a global pandemic to test our theory, and give us the answer. Yes, we can. Work from home, that is.
There are drawback with this set-up, to be sure. In my case, it was through close relationships that we had built when we were still all working from the office, that we were able to maintain the same level of camaraderie and engagement when we had to all work from home. If we had all been virtual from the beginning, things would probably not have been as smooth sailing. But we did acquire people during the pandemic and most of them I have not physically met face-to-face. And yet, this did not seem to pose much of a problem by way of working relationships.
Not all companies and not all types of organizations will be able to work virtually for the most part. But most will be able to, at least for some part of their organizations. Which unleashes a lot of potential in both company resources, as well as the workforce.
Think of real estate, for example. If a company were able to allow its employees to work 50 percent of the time from home, that would mean it would only need half as much office space as it used to. That’s a lot of savings for many organizations, but maybe not such good news for developers and lessors in the short term.
And what of employees? Work-life balance has become such a big deal as a motivator for many workers. Imagine what a 50/50 work from office/home arrangement could do to boost this lever for employers? Those that could provide their workforce with a greater proportion of their time they could spend working from the comforts of their own homes could probably gain a lot of goodwill from prospective employees.