Digital transformation has been a buzzword for over a decade, progressing at varied speeds across different industries. Paradoxically, the recent Covid-19 pandemic is about to accelerate digitization and digital transformation across any industry vertical by forcing each and every business to adapt to a seemingly new age of remote work, online sales and purchases, new office concepts and new models for delivery of goods.
If the Covid-19 is here to stay, the global economy should rapidly adapt to a world of almost everything remote and even industries such as construction, healthcare, power generation, mining or retail should embrace the concept though they traditionally were less willing to invest heavily into complete digital transformation.
In any case, this is a completely new business paradigm, which is a challenging one but also creates opportunities for both corporations and employees.
Opportunities for Businesses
Google Inc. recently announced they are allowing their employees to work from home until at least August 2021. This is just an example of an industry behemoth shifting to an entirely new and completely remote model of producing and delivering services.
Technology companies such as LMNTRIX are in position to let most of their workforce work remotely but it applies to many other industries such as media outlets, education, industrial and architecture design and research, to name a few.
For companies such as Google, this is an unprecedented opportunity to save on office maintenance, utility bills and even reduce costs for company cars to a minimum. Other companies can vastly reduce their costs for covering the commuting expenses of their employees.
A good number of businesses did not realize that you do not need a physical office where employees will meet face to face. Unless a manual labor is performed, most office tasks can be performed remotely, which will redefine the very meaning of the term ‘office’. If part or all of your employees are working remotely, you actually have dozens or hundreds of remote offices, with no need to maintain or rent a huge corporate building.
This situation will result in rapid development of new technologies for online collaboration, data collection and sharing of data. New methods for delivery of goods will come to reality such as delivery of goods by drones or robotic vehicles. As any neighborhood may be locked down unexpectedly due to Covid-19 outbreak, companies should adapt to a new model of getting real-time insights real-time insight into the impact of those quarantines on their component supply, product shipping, staffing and local distribution. This in turn will give a boost to development of specific AI algorithms and predictive analytics tools featuring machine-learning capabilities.
For their part, industries such as education and healthcare, which traditionally require presence in person, will be forced to switch to online technologies to the broadest possible extent. Even now, it is possible to take exams before an online camera while platforms for remote collaboration are getting better by the day.
We have already witnessed the emergence of health monitoring apps and fitness trackers but the Covid-19 outbreak will encourage the fast development of mobile health-condition monitors that can connect to a general practitioner or a specialized healthcare facility remotely once certain criteria are being met. The same applies to doctors giving consultations online and prescribing medicines remotely. Sure, hospitals will not become obsolete in the foreseeable future but even this industry can develop into an increasingly remote service.
Even agriculture will benefit, as the current pandemic will give a boost to a wide adoption of fruit-picking robots that already exist.
Benefits for Employees
Taking advantage of new technologies and development of new business models is just one side of the coin. Workers and employees can also benefit by the current Covid-19 pandemic from which no country around the globe is safe.
For instance, the work-life balance is a debate that spans probably two decades and more. With more and more employees working from remote locations, mostly their homes, the debate shifts more to maintaining external social contacts while in practice being all the time with your family. Having your family around while working from home can be a relaxation if a person is well organized to keep focused on his/her daily tasks.
Furthermore, a good number of workers and employees, especially in the world megapolises need to travel between one and two hours to their workplaces and spend the same amount of commuting back to their homes. This is a huge burden, which is being eliminated by being able to work from home and it also saves commuting costs to both employees and employers, some of which cover their employees’ travel expenses.
By not needing to spend hours and hours of commuting, an employee evidently becomes more productive, which enables the person to spend more hours working from home while performing other household duties without worrying he will be late for work or will miss a dinner with his family. Thus, organizations can expect their employees spending even more hours working voluntarily or least research and prepare for their next-day tasks outside the usual business hours.
By having the opportunity to work from home, most employees are arranging their daily routine in a way that best suits them. This is of extreme importance for an employee as not all individuals are able to adapt to a set specific office rules that apply to all. In result, remote employees have markedly higher control of how and when they perform their duties and tasks, which in turn leads to happier employees. This is win-win scenario where happier employees are more efficient and productive and the employer gets better results from their work.
Work from home is often associated with working from a family house but, in fact, remote work is independent of any specific location. This is a huge benefit for any remote worker as you can work from anywhere and anytime. I recall at my second job out of university, I was at the beach when I received a call on my brick size Nokia phone from my manager asking me what I was doing and I said I was working from home that day.
Location independence offers other benefits as well. You can apply for a remote job online and being interviewed online as well. If you are approved for this new position, you can still work remotely without the need to relocate to a specific location.
A simple virus you can destroy by simply washing your hands with soap is on its way to reshape millennia-old concepts of how we live and work. In the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic offers unprecedented opportunities for completing a global digital transformation, at least to the extent that current technologies allow.
Automation, robotization, digitization and digital transformation in general were inevitable. The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerates an already existing major trend toward implementing advanced digital technologies across industries. It also gives a huge boost to adoption of digital and remote business models and practices across industries that were skeptical about the implementation of such models in their own business domain.
Both organizations and employees will and should take every advantage of the pandemic that will reshape not only the way we work and do business but also the way we think.