Where we were
For many industries, remote workers have traditionally been an afterthought. Often thought of as company resources that support strategic workers, remote teams have frequently been relegated to supporting and backend responsibilities. Whether it be offshore/remote technical talent or customer support functions – outside of a few industries like tech, remote teams have always been there to back up the rest of us.
Enter the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March of 2020, everything changed seemingly overnight. Up until that point, the office represented so much more than just a place to get work done. For many of us, going to work was our one connection to the world outside of our homes. Albeit within the context of the office, our co-workers were who we spent most of our time with.
All of a sudden, we were not allowed to go to work, had been stripped of the luxury of water cooler breaks, boardroom/team meetings, team lunches, work travel, casual Fridays and after-work drinks. The less tangible benefits of the workplace that we always took for granted were suddenly at a premium.
How will our team(s) connect? How do we ensure we’re on the same page? How do we convey progress reports across departments? How do we engage with customers? What tools and platforms do WE use? What tools and platforms do YOU use? Companies of all shapes and sizes found themselves scrambling to re-create the ‘office’ experience whilst also re-defining the overall ‘work’ experience.
The Shifting Paradigm
Within weeks of the pandemic’s outbreak, it was evident this was not a fleeting issue, and that our new reality was here to stay. Companies were forced to completely rethink their entire business models – from internal resource coordination & employee success, to customer engagement and everything in between. Out of nowhere, remote work was now the norm and no longer relegated to backend support roles.
A mass exodus from major urban centers left enormous office towers and corporate campuses as shells of their former selves. All of a sudden, every employee and company resource was remote, a far cry from the traditional level of importance placed on remote work pre-pandemic.
All things considered, companies and markets were extremely responsive and quick to adapt to the new reality. If financial markets serve as any indicator, the corporate world recovered from the initial Covid stumble very quickly. To the pleasant surprise of leaders in many industries, folks didn’t mind working from home. Folks didn’t mind not having to commute to the office, nor did they mind having more time with their families.
Over these past months, we’ve also seen a societal shift in what is important to us personally. A mere few months of family time, introspection and working from home as had a major impact on what matters to us. We have developed new ways to work, adjusted schedules to accommodate for our kids, parents and loved ones.
Whereas personal relationships at work were generally limited to the context of the ‘office’, all of a sudden – we were forced to find new ways to connect with our coworkers, now depending on a small video image as the only window into each other’s lives.
That small video image provided by Zoom, Google, or Prakya had become the only means to connecting with each other. Uniquely though, this small window we use for work has also become the only window into each of our personal lives. It could be catching a glimpse of a piece of art in your employee’s living room, someone’s son or daughter popping on the screen asking for cereal, or your boss’ dog appearing on screen demanding attention – Covid-19 has forced the video conference window to humanize all of us in a whole new way.
The adoption of collaboration and project management tools (like Prakya) have also become quintessential to succeeding in our new reality. Managing workload and deliverables across a multitude of teams, departments and geographic regions took on a never-before-seen level of priority. As the Internet was the major defining inflection point for how work got done in the 90s & 00s – the Covid-19 pandemic clearly takes that prize for this next decade.
Where we are
In summary, the pandemic of 2020 has changed the way work is done forever. It has forced us to look in the mirror, ask ourselves as a society what we truly value, and re-defined what ‘work’ means and looks like to all of us.
Some companies have indicated that their employees may work from home indefinitely (e.g. Facebook), some are considering permanently shutting down their corporate offices (e.g. Shopify), and many have now re-defined their requirements for permissible remote work.
For those who used to commute for one, two or three hours a day – do we really want to sacrifice that valuable time that we’ve regained by working from home?
For parents who have saved thousands of dollars on childcare and daycare by virtue of working from home – do we really want to start spending all that money again?
For those whose work required high operating costs, like work vehicles, gasoline, work travel & accommodations – do they really want to lose all those savings, instead of continuing to work virtually?
Covid-19 has forced us all to look in the mirror and redefine what is important to us, both professionally and personally. As horrible and gut-wrenching a time it has been for us all, some small positives have boiled themselves to the top – are we ever going to go back to ‘the way things were’?
– The Prakya Team
Would love your thoughts, feedback and to hear about how Covid-19 has changed your work experience? Shoot us a note on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.