Who knew that fire could be tamed before some caveman rubbed some flints together? Who, until the advent of the wheel, could have thought of people travelling to each other without worrying about those giant forests and rivers that separated them? Who would have even fantasized that people could speak to each other across the seven seas before someone dared to utter the historical ‘Hello’? And the pattern of silent revolutions that reconfigured how close people can actually come - continues through assembly lines, sea travel, DNA travel, space travel, Wi-Fi to different new technologies today. The technological advancements achieved in the past two decades have brought about a major revolution in different business sectors, changing every aspect of our working life.
Indian corporates have been quick to incorporate some of the new technologies, but the COVID-19 pandemic is now accelerating the digitalization of the corporate sector as most organizations continue to work from home, what may be the new normal in a COVID. All corporates had to adapt technologies that would enable work from home, disruptive processes which helped remove structures and barriers (offices, closed working spaces for instance), facilitated concepts such as ‘on demand’ and impulse decision-making, and re-deployed resources both physical and intellectual. And as cases of coronavirus continue to increase exponentially, a large percentage of Indian corporate employees are leveraging video-conferencing platforms, collaborative applications to remotely interact with their co-workers and host meetings. While the concept of remote working is far from novel for all Indian corporates, advanced technologies have made it a seamless transition from working from the office to working from home.
Moreover, despite the fact that the Indian government has relaxed lockdown restrictions, companies in India are in no hurry to get back to office. According to a survey by leading co-working space provider Awfis an average working professional in India is saving Rs. 5,520 per month and 1.47 hours of travel time every day while working from home. About 74% of the respondents are willing to work remotely, which could be home or a cafe near home as it leads to significant cost and time saving. Employees now believe, as most of their work happens over the internet and with the help of online collaboration tools, work-from-home generally has no adverse impact on their productivity.
The virus has certainly made the world a smaller place. And it is up to us to take this challenge to maximize the confines that have been imposed on us. Employers now have a great opportunity to weed out a lot of redundant processes. Travelling to work is perhaps the biggest concern that everyone in a company resents. The power of the internet together with advancing technology at great affordability has made it possible to be present virtually at any place and any time. All this from the comfort of home! Why meet up personally for a discussion which can be completed virtually? The number of man hours saved could be used for so much more productivity. This is evident by the fact that the user base for the application Zoom grew from 10 million to 200 million over the first 3 months of the pandemic.
Dr. Michael Ilgner, Head of HR, Deutsche bank states that over 70% of people would prefer a more flexible work model with one or two days per week at least at home. The pandemic has also witnessed an increasing number of digital interactions with customers. The global increase of digitized interactions increased from 20% in the years 2017 and 2018 to 36% in December 2019 with a jump to 58% four months into the pandemic.
Companies worldwide were swept away in this tsunami of digitization. The tech practices of companies have seen accelerations amounting to 2-3 years of digitization over as few as 10 days.
Employees, employers or their attitude towards work won’t ever be the same. Even today, 54% of executives believe that remote-work and collaboration will sustain beyond the pandemic as regular work culture. What this really means, is that the largest changes made to the working organizations are also the most likely to stick!