Working professionals, on an average, spend about an hour commuting to their workplace daily, according to Marchetti's Study. This theory on commuting seems to be redefined, as one of the most striking responses to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the sudden shift of around half of the workforce, to working from home. Though for most of the businesses WFH phenomenon went smoothly and had no impact on their performance and productivity, the most prolific repercussion was employees being able to save 2-3 hours of their daily commuting time without hampering productivity. In fact, few companies said that their employees’ productivity increased by 13%-15% during the period.
Gains could be both big and small!
Though the improvement in productivity could be leveraged to offset varied impacts of lockdown including economic downturn, the time saved from commuting could be used either for unproductive things or for gaining new skills or upskilling. With shifting contours of the workday and nearly zero commutes, the possibility of wake-up times shifting later have increased manifold. People tend to spend that time on various unproductive things and increased screen time. On the contrary this extra time could be used for so many productive things, to upskill and re-energize yourself.
This unplanned way of life and ‘new normal’ forced everyone to explore massive opportunities for a great reform, which can yield high benefits for everyone going forward.
Internet will bring in the next-generation of learning - Reskilling and Upskilling
The entire world is looking at leveraging this time well and in a more productive manner. To emerge stronger from this crisis, companies have started upskilling and reskilling their workforce; all this to adapt their employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working so that they could develop resilience to the new operating model. The new operating model might demand 70% offline working mode on a permanent basis. In that case, changing technologies and new ways of working might disrupt skills employees need to do them. Keeping this in mind many companies are crafting a strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience. Some companies are actively working with learning institutions to train their employees in the skills they need.
Digital platforms for MOOCs (massive open online courses), including Coursera and Udemy, have stepped up. Mastercard has recently partnered with the National University of Singapore to expand its global tuition assistance program in the region. ITC has more than 4000 employees actively engaged in web-based learning programme to “gainfully utilise’ this period. Walmart is investing US$4 billion over four years to train and transition frontline and back-office jobs to new customer service roles, while professional services company Manpower has partnered with the education company Pearson to upskill 130,000 workers over the next five years.
The crisis has also accelerated the levels of digitization to help reduce physical interactions. This implies finding ways to reinvent work and, in some cases, partial disruptions in the way workers perform them.
But how will the world build the next generation of internet-enabled upskilling?
The entire exercise of this upskilling and reskilling is happening on the back of internet and digital networks. But have we ever thought about the massive amount of digital network creation that needs to happen and the kind of mass upskilling that is required to build the next generation of digital networks?
Though we need digital networks and high-speed internet to upskill people, but we also do need skilled network professionals on ground to build these future-ready networks. For building a robust future-ready network, we need to have an ecosystem of skilled people who can modernise the networks and fiberize the nation at a fast pace. For this we need to enable a lot more people with digital network building skills.
While deep ingrained challenges of the crisis remain, a silver lining has emerged that has helped everyone identify priorities and built a resilient workforce.