Could you have guessed a month ago what the World would look like today? Probably not. Don’t worry, you are not the only one. We were woefully unprepared for the world that we currently live in. We simply found ourselves in it, overnight. We were just not ready for it all. What makes the whole thing a bit more bearable is the fact that we know this is not going to last forever. We console ourselves with hope that things will not go further into the abyss and that all of it will soon come to pass.
The Coronavirus pandemic caught us unaware – not just the common people, but most governments around the globe, as well as international organizations that deal with these worldwide issues. Both are now facing severe criticism for failing to undertake adequate measures to stop the spread of the epidemic, faced with the corona-crisis. What is particularly interesting this time around is the absence of the classical scenario in which underdeveloped countries poorly reacted to the emergency of this magnitude compared to richer, developed nations. When the pandemic was hitting Italy, Spain and soon after France, it became evident that these countries had underestimated the danger and were thus unprepared for the spread of the virus. The UK was a reluctant observer of events taking place across the Channel, and also failed to immediate an adequate response to the crisis. Even the USA lagged behind in enacting preemptive and protective measures, reaching the point in which it became the biggest viral hotspot globally.
Still, despite the shockwaves the pandemic caused around the world, most of the people truly believe that once “all of this is done”, life will resume within its known pace and that everything will be the same as it was in “the good old times”. That is the way of human nature. Except that this time around, things will be different.
Yes, the coronavirus pandemic will pass. The panic will die down, tensions will decrease, people will feel relieved and things will go back to normal. That is, that would be the first perception of the new reality. But we will be facing a new world that will require way more adjusting and adaptation in order to survive and live in it.
Once the heat of the crisis fades and the coronavirus is tamed, we will wake up in a new world – a conclusive remark based on some of the emerging patterns of human behavior that we were forced to accept. Despite our belief that these are only temporary, everything suggests otherwise.
One of the most significant changes in that regard is the way we work. Limitations and radical bans on mobility of people imposed as key measures globally to stop the spread of the virus have forced companies to shut down operations that require physical presence of their employees, except the most essential ones necessary for proper functioning of the system. At the same time, all the work placements that didn’t require an employee to be present in the office, switched to working from home.
Productivity advisors, HR agencies and experts of all sorts are now hands deep in advising and sharing manuals on how best to organize the work-from-home office and efficiently work while being remote, balancing private and professional life when home equals workplace, as well as how to adapt to the new way of living/working. A new acronym is already part of our daily lifestyle dictionary: WFH – Work from Home.
Had the pandemic occurred globally a decade and a half ago, the option to introduce Work from Home concept worldwide at such a large scale would be virtually impossible as it would only apply in certain rare scenarios and would constitute an exception, actually. This best shows how the information technology revolution, that we have witnessed in the past 20 years, changed the concept of employment and the workplace. This is the moment in history that shifts the privilege of working from home for freelancers to the majority of regular employees who, until then, had perceived the WFH as something that is a rare treat, awarded by the employer.
The pandemic comes and goes, and when the conditions are met and employees can safely go back to their regular desk in the office, I am certain that a number of them will be offered to continue working from home. Companies will do the math, thinking about minimizing the costs of work and employment, while the employees will be used to working like this, making the shift a smoother, less resisted transition into a new model.
Aside from the fact that we have no clue at this point in time what are the consequences of the shift, we know the process that started is an irreversible one, causing fundamental changes in society. The tech is already embedded in our lives at this point in time – from the way we communicate to a totally different world of media we live in. Now, the time has come for significant changes in other spheres of our social life, on both the local and the global scale.
The entire global system of today will be severely questioned during the impending economic crisis that will follow the end of the pandemic. The distrust and reexamination will come from its obsoleteness and general inability to cope with the consequences of a crisis such as the one we are facing right now, inept to tackle problems that are yet to arise in the foreseeable future.
We cannot control or run the processes at this time. What we can do is isolate, take measures not to spread the virus and preserve ourselves from contracting the disease. And of course, keep working from home.