2020. The year we all want to reset.
Well, at least that would be the case if we were asked to do so, solely based on the first half of the year. While COVID-19 and all its impacts would claim the limelight, various other events such as escalating political tensions between various countries, losing jobs, and the demise of some wonderful people significantly add to the agony as well.
But here’s the question we’ll try to answer: Has the COVID situation given us something to look forward to?
Our country’s coronavirus lockdown has resulted in a disruption of our lives unlike any seen before. Stunning images of deserted landmarks and public places are being posted on social media daily.
Usually, public spaces are noisy, congested, vibrant, and lively. But, they serve the purpose of the middleman. Shopping or just “window” shopping through local markets is an integral part of everyday life for most Indians. Navigating through a busy marketplace is a spontaneous act and even a daily ritual for few.
But these ordinary everyday public spaces are the ones that facilitate social interactions and most importantly, bring economic and social benefits to the largely poorer sections of society who often live in cramped accommodation. Due to the lockdown and self-imposed physical distancing measures by customers to avoid crowded areas, their earnings have taken a huge hit with some facing heavy debts as they fight to provide for their families. Things are slowly getting better, but we’re far from the normal; the “normal” as we defined it 6 months ago.
But how are other small and large organized businesses reacting to this?
Even before COVID-19, many organizations faced considerable IT challenges. Now, COVID-19 is pushing companies to rapidly operate in new ways and IT is being tested as never before. The outbreak is also forcing companies to re-evaluate how contact centers are leveraged, how employees deliver relevant customer experiences, where they work and, how digital channels can be used to support business continuity through the crisis and beyond. With emerging behaviors of customers, organizations have an opportunity to accelerate the pivot to digital commerce by expanding existing offerings and creating new lines of service, like the retailers rallying to provide “contactless” delivery and curbside pick-up services for consumers. Some companies like Amazon are already leading this change and most others are most likely to follow suit.
But the bigger disruption has been regarding the workforce. Over 23.5% of the entire country’s working population was unemployed in the month of May 2020. All companies are still determining how employees will work in the short and long-term, as work from home has become the new norm. Meetings have moved away from the dedicated boardrooms to people in front of their webcams.
However, work from home has not been fully accepted by all because otherwise, all companies could have easily avoided land and retail costs. Employees working from home are likely to lack the mental boost workspaces provide, alongside those chats at coffee breaks. While some of them have complained about increased stress to cope with blurring lines between work and personal lives, a few find work from home beneficial by saving the time of commute and spending quality time with their families.
These changes will imply that people would no longer need to stay in cities with high housing prices, and instead, choose to stay in places with lifestyles that suit them. This will heavily influence the real estate industry in the coming decade, but most importantly, this is a ray of hope that we are moving towards a world where people decide their own work-life equations.