Circa early 2020, Covid19 caught the world by surprise, to say the least.
The last couple of years have been crazy in many ways. Organizations, big and small, went from a status quo that was essentially unchanged for decades, to work-from-home (WFH), to work-from-anywhere (WFA). New buzzwords like ‘blursday’ entered our lexicon, the common man picked up a few concepts about epidemiology, and every one and their third cousin got acquainted with Zoom.
Technology led companies and consulting firms were already used to working across the globe with tools and tech that made it somewhat easier to coordinate remotely. Most other businesses, however, had to hurriedly learn how to cope with the demands of WFH, while simultaneously addressing growing cybersecurity threats.
Customers across the globe faced difficulties of their own: Ever-changing lockdown conditions by local governments made it nearly impossible to access any thing more than just the basics. Senior citizens learned how to navigate food delivery apps, children coped with schooling via video calls on Google Classroom, and the average family embraced digital channels of service, as best as possible.
For some enterprises, there may have been savings in terms of infrastructure, while others stared down fixed-cost assets that remained unutilized for months at end. Employees facing a harsh commute were happy with WFH/WFA flexibility, while others missed the connect and conversations that can only happen in the workplace. The pandemic certainly made it harder to collaborate with colleagues – especially those engaged in complex cross-functional work, not to mention newbies being onboarded entirely in remote mode.
The hardest hit of all were daily workers, those whose work cannot be done in WFH mode, families with school-children but no access to mobile devices or spotty Internet, and of course those in essential services and healthcare that were fighting at the forefront every day.
Two years down, problems still abound and there are no easy answers to be found. Yes, “hybrid work” is the phrase most talked about these days, but no one knows what the future of work will really look like. May be we can use this opportunity to re-imagine how we organize our work and ourselves. Or is it just wishful thinking?