If “necessity is the mother of invention,” coronavirus (COVID-19) forced many around the world to rethink our daily lives from work to school to entertainment.
In response to travel bans, school closures, and recommendations to not gather in large groups and keep our distance from fellow humans to limit the spread of the virus, many people turned to digital tools to keep some semblance of normality.
It’s been imperative to digitally transform our places of work and education to be able to operate effectively.
Those companies able to use technology well to keep going and rethink their business model for the future by fast-tracking digital transformation will be ones ahead of their competition.
Ability to Work from Home
Even companies that were resistant to the concept of a distributed workforce are now forced to allow working from home, so work can still be done while taking precautions to halt the spread of the virus.
Twitter and other large organizations encouraged their employees to work from home, and other companies such as Google were building remote working policies in the event they needed to shift work home.
While the ability to work from home is a benefit many employees value, many companies lack the technology infrastructure structure to offer that capability without some sacrifices to “business as usual.
However, one unexpected outcome of COVID-19 is that companies are realising the benefits of fast-tracking digital transformation.
When many Chinese cities went under lockdown as COVID-19 spread, many companies encouraged millions to stay at home, which had them experiencing the joys and turmoil of working from home.
Generally, Chinese companies were set up with appropriate technology to allow working from home, but many company cultures were not.
While some companies will eventually go back to rigid work-in-office policies, it’s expected that some will realize the benefits to employees and that in fact, it can be done effectively.
If nothing else, they will have valuable experience about what is needed and how to accommodate work-from-home needs in the future when it’s required again due to another outbreak or other reasons.
While some companies will eventually go back to rigid work-in-office policies, it’s expected that some will realize the benefits to employees and that in fact, it can be done effectively. If nothing else, they will have valuable experience about what is needed and how to accommodate work-from-home needs in the future when it’s required again due to another outbreak or other reasons.
As COVID-19 spread throughout countries, schools and universities began to turn to virtual learning options. Many universities decided to switch the rest of the semester’s work to online learning only and some closed campuses to contain the spread of the virus. While many universities had experience with virtual learning were better prepared for the shift, the majority of education organizations are not really set up for online classes.
There are some K-12 institutions that are going virtual, leaving teachers and administrators to ensure that all kids have access to the technology and tools they need to keep learning from home. The transition to digital education is certainly disruptive as it wasn’t planned for in the timeline the coronavirus dictated, but the educators and educational institutions will be better prepared in the future.
Events Going Virtual
Along with many in-person conferences being canceled worldwide in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, some are switching them to be virtual events.
Conferences are a trillion-dollar industry and have been a critical way to exchange ideas and build professional relationships. Some companies are trying to bridge the gap between in-person events and virtual ones with platforms that combines video, networking, and more to try to capture the benefits of networking at an in-person event and the content and tech of virtual tools.
The virus outbreak has pushed conference organizers and business owners to think outside the box to provide compelling alternative options in the interest of public safety. This push could also result in innovations for the future with how people meet and interact better virtually.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many technology companies are rolling out tools that can support companies and organizations when going remote for extended trial periods or for lower fees. Here are a few:
- Google is allowing free access to advanced features that normally have a fee every month for Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite Education customers for several months.
- Microsoft offered a free six-month trial of its top tier of Microsoft Teams to enable schools, hospitals, and businesses in China to keep operating even with the restrictions of coronavirus.
- U.S.-based video-conferencing provider Zoom saw its stock price rise during the crisis; clearly people are seeing the value of remote-working tools. Zoom lifted the 40-minute limit from its free Basic plan for China when coronavirus hit the country. Doctors in China from more than 1,000 hospitals used the service for online consultations.
Jeoffrey Ncube is a Creative Executive for MEJRKH Holdings. He has 4 years’ experience in respective fields of finance and digital media. Particular areas of expertise include Financial Reporting, Stockbroking, Mining Reporting, and Financial Media.