COVID-19 and the shift towards working remotely

Several countries the world over have taken a variety of measures from mass testing, travel or border restrictions, to lockdowns in a bid to contain the virus. Governments and central banks have likewise been adjusting the monetary and fiscal policies to mitigate the economic impact. This means that the world has entered the second phase of the crisis where the pandemic has translated into an economic crisis.

COVID-19 now poses a more serious downside risk to the global economy. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11 to signify its severity and global coverage and urged countries to take ‘urgent and aggressive action.’

Companies as well have taken a seismic shift in the way they conduct business. In an effort to protect their employees and help reduce the spread of the virus, companies have quickly enacted new policies. These steps include endorsing video interviews, working from home, halting in-person meetings, cancelling conferences, cutting down on flying out to meet clients, becoming more attune to the supply chain and what countries they conduct business with. It’s a radical new way of thinking about how the workplace should operate. It shows that there is not an absolute need to have everyone congregated together in one place. With the advancements in technology it’s possible to have large numbers, if not all, employees working remotely.

Consider how much these other changes will reshape the work-world. How much time is wasted by holding long tedious meetings that can easily be dispensed with and addressed by emails? Employees are conscious of how their companies operate. The traditional manner of conducting business is changing right before our eyes. We’ve done things out of habit. Now the virus outbreak has forced business leaders to rethink better more efficient means of facilitating routine business activities. Online video meetings and interviews, reduced travel to clients, dispensing with physical conferences that can also be done virtually and working from home will take over. 

These changes are better for both the companies and their employees. Working from home enables people to be more productive, care for their children and avoid stressful soul-sucking commutes. Jetting around the world for conferences and meetings feeds an executive’s ego but it can easily be done through videos. With less plane travel, more people working at home and not commuting, pollution will be reduced and the environment and air quality will improve. Companies will save a fortune on rent and travel related costs and have happier and more motivated employees.

In the past, terrible situations have inspired big changes to societies. The unfortunate virus outbreak has forced corporate executives to think of how to dampen its spread, and in the process came up with clever ideas to help stop the progress of the COVID-19 while establishing improved conditions for workers. It’s a winning scenario as the companies will benefit through cost savings, employees will enjoy working from home and the environment will be better with less driving and flying.