Thinking back to early 2020, the world seemed a very different place. People walked and talked freely in the streets; children played in parks, the vapor trails of planes crisscrossed our skies and cities hummed with the sound of people going about their business.
Then Coronavirus happened.
In the months since, it seems the very fabric of society has been turned upside down. The way we work, the way we travel – even the way we communicate – all have altered beyond recognition. Previously simple, routine activities like going shopping or dropping past friends have more or less disappeared from our lives.
The importance of the internet in our social and work lives
Our reliance on the internet has never been higher. Previous face-to-face interaction has been replaced with a life lived through screens. We shop at home, we “meet” at home, we talk at home, we work at home. For so long as social distancing remains a priority, our lives will continue to happen online from our homes.
The rise of remote working
In the years leading up to Coronavirus, companies had already been moving significant chunks of their operations online. Since the arrival of Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns, they’ve had no choice.
The virus has forced us to rethink how we work and where we work. In a modern, connected age with video calling, shared file resources, and online team-working, we’ve learned there’s no need for a traditional 9-5 office lifestyle. People have, by and large, proven they’re more than capable of working from home.
Cloud back-ups and online collaboration
Software companies have also been quick to jump on this trend by offering more secure networking capabilities in products specifically tailored to allow remote working. For example, Microsoft recently announced a ground-up reworking of its popular Office software – now renamed Microsoft 365 – which features improved video conferencing, tightened online security, built-in cloud storage, and enhanced file-sharing services. All features designed to facilitate and improve working from home.
The end of the rush hour commute
One of the biggest positives of remote working has been the end of the rush hour commute. In years to come, it’s quite likely we’ll look back with disdain at the idea of an entire workforce all traveling to and from work at the same time, day and night.
The daily commute isn’t just an inconvenience – it’s also bad for the environment. By spending more time working from home, we’ll reduce pollution and improve the quality of life in our cities through reduced congestion. A win/win from every point of view.
The use of Zoom and other video conferencing apps has exploded over the last few months, and it’s a trend that will continue long after the virus has gone. Multiple-person video calling is now seen as normal as a morning meeting in the boardroom. Online conferencing also removes the need for expensive and time-consuming travel. The environment benefits from reduced pollution; companies benefit from reduced overhead, staff benefit from reduced time spent traveling away from home. Again, win/win in all cases.
Sometimes events happen in the world that are so huge they come to shape the way we do things forever. While many of the measures taken through the emergence of Coronavirus will be relaxed once a vaccine is found, there is every likelihood some areas of our lives will be changed forever.
In particular, the changes we’ve seen in the way we work have been so seismic – and, in many ways, so positive – it’s difficult to imagine the future of the workplace ever going back to the old ways. As we continue to spend more time out of offices, new technologies will develop to further aid remote working (in particular, working in teams), making us feel more together in a virtual world.
In many ways, the “new normal” might not be so bad after all.