INT: ANDY’S OFFICE- EVENING
In the heart of New York City, inside a modern corporate office.
In the break room, Andy is still working at 7:30 pm. Television news can be heard in the background. Ambulances sirens moved closer, his colleague turned the television volume up.
“ …we are enforcing lockdown for an indefinite period” declared the president.
Hastily picked up the phone, laptop and his beloved succulents and left the building.
Most of us left our workspace like this. One fine day, we had to leave and not come back. In an attempt to stop the transmission of COVID-19, around half of the world’s population is on lockdown; self-quarantining or self-isolating. During this current challenging circumstance arising out of this global crisis, we identified that the conventional ways of work are kaput and not feasible.
How are companies adapting to the new work style?
Companies across the world have started moving workers to remote work setups. For most of us, long-term remote work is a new experience. Most of us aren’t trained to operate in such an unprecedented time nor a master at virtual meetings. To cope up with this new work style, we, netizens turned to Google. According to Google’s survey in India, one out of two consumers is interested in personalised information from brands like “how to work from home”. While we slowly learn and adapt to these new settings, we cannot ignore the bleak aftermath of Corona outbreak lockdown on our work.
This pandemic has triggered untypical shocks in the global economy resulting in massive job losses and pay cuts. The US unemployment rate is projected to an average of 15% during the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020, in Canada the unemployment rate rose to 13% in April from 5.2% on March, in Japan, it was 2.5% in March, and in the UK it was 4% as per the latest data. While other countries also follow equivalent trends, the global employment outlook is not too positive. As per ILO’s recent study, globally, over 436 million enterprises are facing high risks of operational challenges that could potentially lead to further layoffs. This is a crucial period for businesses around the world. Many businesses are floundering, many are flourishing, and others are doing relatively well. For those who still have a job are currently undergoing a major transition in the way they work.
A transition to ‘New Work’
As we are transmuting to a new mode of living and working, we could see the boundaries between work and life thinning out. Given the current pandemic discourse and social distancing norms, remote working has become a pragmatic mode of work. Proponents of Dr Frithjof Bergmann’s New Work concept are embracing this transition.
Here are a few ways in which Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is accelerating the pace of change to a New Work culture.
When the lockdown was enforced, many of the businesses skipped a beat, worrying about making requisite technology infrastructure available for the employees to telecommute. It was imperative for those businesses to quickly adapt to ensure business continuity and productivity. As per the recent market intelligence, during the second half of March 2020 itself, video conferencing tools were downloaded a record 62 million times. The current workforce is relying on virtual collaboration tools to ensure productivity; making social isolation not too isolating.
Innovation and DigitizationA question that is often asked is ‘how will the workspaces look like post-lockdown?’.
Remote working is here to stay; offices too- in some way. Global real estate company Cushman & Wakefield’s innovative conceptual idea of 6 feet office has already become a functional way of re-designing the workspaces to make it more effective and safe for returning employees.
At the end of the last decade, with Industry 4.0, we have paved the way for exponential technologies. Industry 4.0 and COVID-19 pandemic has become an impetus for change, creating more than enough space for disruptive technologies. Facebook’s experimental mixed-reality workspace and Codec Avatars concept (life-like virtual avatars of employees) to improve social interaction experience are a few of such technologies.
Over the last few years, digitization has been the core transformation enabler of organizational processes. The rapid pivot to a remote workstyle has pushed organizations to source and hire talents virtually, train and onboard employees online and evaluate performance digitally. Digitization in workspace not only opens up the possibility of communication with one another but also, it the best possible way for organizations to go paperless and sustainable.
Equality and Inclusion
No doubt that the pandemic is upending the current workplace culture. This change has a notable impact on women, as they are more likely to adjust their career for family. According to the recent FlexJobs survey, 31% of women who took a break from their career, told that their job was too inflexible to remain in the workforce. A more flexible/work-from-home work culture could provide better equity at home as both men and women could share responsibilities and support each other.
The new work style is an exponent of new leadership. A leadership that is democratic- that is built on trust, patience, and support. Deploying all these innovative tools and practices will not make the transition meaningful. The senior management should willingly trust their employees, handover responsibility and encourage an autonomous way of working. Creating a meaningful and inclusive work environment would require everyone in the hierarchy to listen to each other, embrace differences, and show empathy.
What is the future?
Amidst this massive disruption, we are still entertaining the thought of a work culture that is uplifting, meaningful and backed by Industry 4.0 aspirations. It is evident that the future of work is flexible, project-based, digitally enhanced, trust-worthy, and environmentally sustainable. What we need now is a platform that is readily available for everyone to achieve that.
Dear readers, I came bearing good news. Such a platform is already here. Introducing New Work City:). New Work City is a decentralised network for everyone to collaborate on projects. It enables you to meet like-minded creatives, get involved and collaborate within your team, and communities around the world. This smart collaboration platform is powered by Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT/Blockchain) and Artificial Intelligence (ML). It is completely free of cost so that you could easily adapt to the new work culture.
Like YouTube democratized content creation and TikTok- self-expression, New Work City intends to democratize work.
While you find more about us at newworkcity.io, stay at least 6 feet away from each other.