Global working hours fell by 14% in the second quarter of 2020 alone — equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs, the International Labour Organisation estimates. The pandemic of the novel coronavirus COVID-2019 has exposed an acute vulnerability of businesses and their workers around the world. Companies stopped hiring, millions of employees were transferred to work remotely in the COVID crisis, and some lost it altogether.
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Revolution of the traditional work
The coronavirus outbreak could revolutionise traditional working patterns in at least several industries. The threat of infection has led to the fact that literally everything is being rethought, starting with how to conduct conferences, collaborate, deal with sales and commercial real estate in the current environment. China is fighting coronavirus with quarantines, school and business closures. Supply chains have been disrupted, resulting in lower profits for companies dependent on Chinese component suppliers. Quarantines and other safeguards are being introduced in other countries. Restrictions on travel abroad and conference attendance have impacted airlines, restaurants, retail outlets and other businesses.
Changes in work
The panic caused by the virus can accelerate changes in work that have already begun to occur. For example, in the case of collaboration, employees began to use video more often. A travel ban could lead to a rethinking of sales and marketing practices if only companies understand that flights are not economically beneficial. If it turns out that most of the workforce can work remotely in the COVID crisis without losing productivity, companies will wonder if this is better than an office setting, with its costs of renting commercial real estate or maintaining its own. Simply put, fear of infection can change the way you work.
One thing’s for sure: The coronavirus will have a big impact on business. Below are examples of how businesses and organizations are changing their way of working.
Consumer and business behavior
Consumer behavior in China has already changed and may remain the same, which may apply equally to the rest of the world. “Seventeen years ago, when the SARS virus receded, e-commerce was booming. We believe that adverse circumstances will lead to changes in consumer and business behavior and new opportunities. As you can see, more and more consumers feel comfortable satisfying their daily needs using digital means. We are confident that China’s economy and society will continue to digitalize, which lays the foundation for the long-term growth of Alibaba’s digital business, ” said Yun Zhang, CEO of Alibaba.
In connection with the travel ban, Chinese researchers made presentations at the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in New York via video conferencing or in private presentations. The AAAI conference was lucky in the sense that it actually took place, while two key conferences for the IT world — Facebook F8 and Mobile World Congress — were canceled. We can conclude that video conferencing is the future.
Better methods of work and profits
Ultimately, the coronavirus could lead to better methods of work and profits — even though it will hurt some parts of the economy. This situation will allow businesses to find ways to real cost savings. How will it look like:
Reducing the cost of travel abroad. Once businesses realize that their employees can get by or drastically cut back on face-to-face interactions, they’ll start thinking about reducing travel costs. In fact, videoconferencing was originally conceived as a means of telecommuting to reduce travel costs;
Automation tools will be rapidly introduced to empower employees;
The value of the commercial real estate will fall. Once the remote operating model becomes the norm, the need for huge corporate complexes will diminish. This movement towards more adaptable commercial real estate has already begun, but the coronavirus could accelerate the trend;
The personnel policy will change. The fewer people are concentrated in one office space, the fewer problems with them. This will allow overburdened HR departments to better manage their time.
Report by the McKinsey Global Institute says that freelancing stimulates competition, which means that quality rises as well as the demand and prices fall. The authors of the report believe that an accomplished freelancer is more productive than a traditional middle-level manager, and capital productivity is only growing. At the same time, governments will have to adjust social protection systems, for example, pension programs, which today are tied to employers (they are the ones who most often pay contributions to funds for employees.). And the self-employed will have to come up with new forms of solidarity – “we may see a resurgence of guilds, fraternities and self-help societies that once allowed isolated workers to help each other in difficult times, including learning and improving skills,” the experts write.
It’s not the schedule that matters, it’s the result
It must be admitted that over the past decade, employers in the United States and Europe have been increasingly willing to let their employees work wherever they see fit. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the task was completed on your lap, on the couch, in a café, on the beach or at the office table, only the result matters. And now this is relevant more than ever. The employer often has the ability to control what the employee is doing with the help of technical means, special software. For example, take random screenshots of his screen several times an hour, receive information on which sites he visited during the day, etc., arrange online meetings.
Thus, for employees to work remotely in the COVID crisis, the control of the labor discipline can be even stricter than when working in an office where everything is already in plain sight.
The pandemic has made millions of people around the world work remotely in the COVID crisis – looking for a table at home, in addition to dining, installing the necessary programs on a computer and observing the dress code of their own apartment, at least for the duration of video conferences with colleagues. It is likely that the virus can give the world not only sad statistics but also new horizons, which humanity had no incentive to overcome before.