Digital World after COVID-19: Remote Work
Besides endangering society’s well-being, COVID-19 is also a serious threat to the global economy. Millions of people must deal and struggle with their every day routine even if they are not diagnosed with a coronavirus.
What do we have today?
People lose their jobs and means of livelihood. This is so widespread that even in highly developed countries like the United States it has critical outcomes.
According to Markets Insider results, as of March 19, 2020, states (USA) have shocked the Government with the total number of unemployment benefit applications: only 10 states have more than 215,000 applications. In mid-April, The Guardian reported that the number of applications in the USA had increased to 26 million, i.e. 4.4 million applications a week. In New Jersey, so many people have applied for unemployment benefits that it has taken the state’s server down. This is only the first example of how the modern digitalization of the world has already faced the problems with the new rules of existence.
In the current crisis, most companies have still been struggling to survive and face the forced vacations of their employees, either due to quarantine measures or lack of remuneration. According to Business Insider, business giants such as Walmart, McDonald’s, Starbucks stated that they were ready to protect and support their employees. Businesses change the rules for paid holidays and sick leaves.
But how long will it be? Especially this is of high concern for companies offering not-so-essential or luxuries items. Companies such as Burberry, Macy’s, Adidas, Gap have already announced a significant decline in product demand. In small and medium-sized businesses, many companies have to shut down.
During lockdown, there is a fair solution for that matter – remote work. Of course, it makes adjustments to workflows and work efficiency, which might have lower results. But this allows companies to “stay onboard”. The major idea of remote work during the lockdown is a period of adaptation to new principles of workflow in the future.
A special analysis prepared by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics has shown that there has been a major upward trend in the amount of people working remotely in the U.S. In the span of one year, from 2016 to 2017, remote work grew by 7.9%. Over the last five years it grew by 44% and over the previous 10 years it grew by 91%.
Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. In 2015, 3.9 million U.S. workers worked remotely. Today that number is around 4.7 million, or 3.4% of the population.
Such statistics confirm that remote work is beneficial not only to employees but also to employers. This is a significant saving to the budget of a company. In addition, without territorial restrictions, it is possible to hire the best specialists around the globe.
After lockdown is over
There will be a return to normal life: employees will continue going to the office, students will have to catch up with the study plan. Small and medium businesses will need to make greater use of digitalization as a way out of the crisis and to provide better services.
It is possible that lockdown can be extended for a much longer period than is expected today. On the other hand, many countries have already been coming closer to the economic crisis caused by the global economy shutdown due to the COVID-19. So in the near future, there will be easing of restrictions, which may increase the cases of sick people again and lead to implementation of lockdown again. It requires readiness for restrictions during a few months.
New Vector after COVID-19
Changes in business
According to BBC News referring to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it is projected that the global economy can grow at a slower pace due to the coronavirus outbreak – of just 2.4% in 2020, down from 2.9% in November. With a longer pandemic, there will be reduced growth to 1.5%.
Not every business will survive the critical downturn during lockdown and fierce competition after it’s over. The global pandemic will lead to 3 main ways in a business:
- reorganization – quick adaptation to market changes, adjusting the vector of the company, at first moving business to the online format;
- shutting down if adaptation is impossible or late;
- starting a new business with new ideas and online products.
An integral part of maintaining a business is the ability to work remotely.
In the near future, remote work will be a standard, not a forced process. According to Fast Company, companies are finally starting to invest in remote work processes understanding its effectiveness. New tools are expected to provide connectivity for many employees, teleconferences, and collaboration, such as Hangouts Meet by Google. Due to the coronavirus spread, Google and Microsoft provide limited time free access to their corporate communications services. This is a good test drive for potential customers in the future.
Business and private communication goes online confidently. Social networks are looking for new ways of more friendly communication. COVID-19 has already pushed Instagram to create a group video chat and news viewing.
Due to changing business vectors to online, employees will work from home with flexible hours. As a result, there is a need for new work control systems that will keep management posted as much as possible and at the same time require minimal attention from the employee and not cause a burden to them. That’s why now there should be focus on developing new tools.
Digitalization has already been widely used in business and over the years will increasingly cover different processes in companies. At the same time, the digitalization of social life will continue to develop as well.