Lockdowns, social distancing, isolation, working remotely – 2020 certainly has coined a glut of new terms and concepts that, just 12 months ago, would have surely seemed unimaginable.
Following the emergence of Coronavirus back in January, so many aspects of our lives have been changed that many experts suspect our lives may have been transformed forever. While some of the social conventions we’re being forced to adopt right now may well fade as the potency of the virus also drops, it’s highly likely some of the new practices we follow today will endure long after the virus has passed and simply become part of everyday life.
Coronavirus had a huge impact on previous working practices
In particular, one area where COVID has had an undeniable and profound impact is in the world of work. Lockdowns drove companies to take a close look at how they ran their operations and forced many to offer the facilities, technology and networks to allow employees to work from home. Not only that – the realities of COVID encouraged companies to explore areas of automation or new ways of thinking that are opening doors to practices they may have previously shied away from.
Lockdowns and the introduction of remote working
By definition, a lockdown means a total lack of social contact – and that included everything from work to shopping and even familial contact. Thankfully, these days, we have a huge range of technology that was able to step up and keep us working and communicating effectively. New tech integrated surprisingly well into office set-ups and coped remarkably well with the move to remote-working.
With vastly improved connection speeds and an increase in intelligent software, most office jobs transitioned very successfully to this new concept of people working from home. Indeed, the experiment has proven so successful that industry behemoths like Twitter, Google and Facebook recently announced many of their employees will now work from home.
Workplace social distancing
Of course, in some jobs, it’s simply not possible for employees to work remotely. Many vocations involve a hands-on role – for example, operating machinery or interacting with the public. In these instances, social distancing measures and basic employee and workplace hygiene measures need to be maintained. These steps will be essential to ensure employee safety in the workplace while still allowing them to perform their jobs. While we will undoubtedly see a move to remote and home-working, companies will always need a base from which to operate and centralize resources. However, using the appropriate technology can undoubtedly aid with the transition.
The increasing role of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Of all recent innovations, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the greatest power and potential to change the workplace and transform how we approach work. Increasingly sophisticated software is already beginning to change the workload of employees in many industries and starting to automate previously time-consuming or repetitive tasks.
For example, accounting packages are now able to (mostly) replicate the standard work performed accountants, transforming their role into more of an advisory function. The same applies equally to many other previously-manual industries.
In short, any job that requires multiple, repetitive tasks will benefit from AI. Lockdown forced many companies to find ways to cut costs – exploring these areas of AI and automation where perhaps they might have been hesitant.