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Post pandemic future workplace

The stakes are too high. The risks and opportunities are too high. There's no going back to normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 disrupted the global economies including the labor market. The transient results were unexpected and grim: Millions of individuals were furloughed or lost their jobs and others quickly acclimated to working from home as workplaces shut in response to the COVID-19 protocols. People with numerous different specialist backgrounds considered fundamental were kept on working in large hospitals, clinics, supermarkets, and other areas of industries yet under new protocols to lessen the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is described by the rapid digitization as well as the ever-increasing advancement of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing. In what felt like short-term progress, since such sensational changes in business typically require months, if not years, organizations quickly pivoted to remote working as a result of stay-at-home orders. If it hadn't been for this pandemic, companies would have still hesitated to initiate remote working even for some of their functional departments. At the start of this pandemic, while numerous individuals and organizations were hesitant about betting everything on Industry 4.0 innovations, fortunately, the framework and capabilities of the said technologies were set up regardless of whether or not they completely culminated.

Jobs with the highest probability of getting disrupted

Before COVID-19, the biggest disruptions to work included new innovations that were primarily technological in nature. COVID-19 has, interestingly, raised the significance of the physical element of work. In a research conducted by McKinsey, they built up a novel method to measure the closeness or proximity needed with clients, fellow colleagues, and other interpersonal interactions in the workplace in excess of 800 occupations by gathering them into ten work fields.

For instance, taking a hospital as an example where many different functions work together to provide services to patients. The medical care field, as shown in Exhibit 1, reflects the work of doctors and nurses that require working in close proximity to patients. Indoor production and warehousing in the case of hospitals would reflect the work of Lab technicians that specialize in the use of medical equipment that is present in the hospitals without much exposure towards the patients. Similarly, Computer-based office work reflects the work of the medical administrative staff. This job requires no interaction whatsoever with patients and hence can be done from home or any other remote place.

Exhibit 1

COVID‑19 accelerated trends

The pandemic pushed organizations and buyers to quickly embrace new practices that are probably going to stick. As a consequence of the pandemic, there exists a sharp discontinuity before and after the COVID-19 trends. Even after the pandemic comes to an end, the profound impact it had on the skills and the labor market will stay. Three of the trends that were already underway were significantly accelerated by COVID-19. They are:

Distant work and virtual gatherings are probably going to continue, but less seriously than at the pandemic's pinnacle

Maybe the clearest impact of COVID-19 on the workforce is the sudden surge in remote working by the employees. To decide how broadly remote work may persevere after the pandemic, McKinsey examined its potential across in excess of 2,000 job tasks in about 800 occupations in the eight subject nations. Considering just remote work that should be possible without a delay of productivity they tracked down that around 20 to 25 percent of the labor forces in developed economies could work remotely or work from home somewhere in the range of three and five days per week. They further tracked down that some of the work that in fact should be possible doing remotely should be done in offices or in-person to maintain the level of effectiveness and assertiveness such as in the case of negotiations, brainstorming sessions, and important decision making.

A few organizations are as of now wanting to move to flexible and remote workspaces after certain encounters with remote work during the pandemic, a move that will lessen the general space they require and bring fewer employees into workplaces every day. A review of 278 leaders by McKinsey in August 2020 tracked down that by and large, they wanted to lessen office space by 30%.

Higher use of e-commerce platforms

Numerous customers found comfort and convenience in the online retailing business (or more commonly known as, e-commerce). In 2020, the portion of e-commerce business developed at a disproportionate rate than before the pandemic (Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 2

COVID-19 may drive the quicker application of automation and AI, particularly in work fields with high physical proximity

Two different ways organizations generally have controlled expense and alleviated vulnerability during downturns are by automating much of their processes and tasks and redesigning their methodologies, which lessens the portion of occupations including job tasks that can be automated. As a result of COVID-19 protocols to minimize human interactions, corporations have found their way by using AI in their operations.

AGCO Corp — a $9 bn American giant with 41 factories and 47 distribution facilities with thousands of employees — during the start of the pandemic came to realize that their customers and suppliers based in China were going to be critically affected from the COVID-19. As a result, the corporate giant implemented an AI-based supply chain risk management system that monitors data in real-time using different sources to ensure that the company is prepared in incase any vendor is unable to deliver on its promised goods.

Post pandemic outlook for other sectors

Companies are looking forward to implementing a hybrid model of working where employees can work remotely as well as work from the office to boost productivity, morale, collaboration, and inclusiveness.

However, despite a boost in productivity, many employees report feeling anxious or burned out. In the future, productivity gains may not be sustained if leaders do not create a culture of calm and trust. That's because anxiety can negatively affect work performance, resulting in decreased job satisfaction, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships.

According to McKinsey, they have identified the new normal post-pandemic for several industries which include:

  • Airline Industry: This industry will play a critical role in reviving the economies of many countries. In order to remain profitable and experience, long-term growth airliners would have to restructure their organization, raise long-term finance including equity and generate value by investing in growth.

  • Clean, connected, and electric will be the future for automakers and mobility companies.

  • Convenience stores, which have thrived by stocking their convenience stores, are also set to suffer. Now, owners will have to add new merchandising to compete with online retailers.

  • New opportunities in consumer lending will result from the credit cycle's return.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is made possible by chips made by semiconductor companies, and semiconductor companies can benefit by applying AI to their own operations.

What can be done?

As a result of above mentioned technological developments and applications, some of the existing workforce skills may become obsolete. Business Executives and leaders need to ensure that they focus on their employees in this transitionary period and to upskill them where necessary. For instance, an employee that worked in an Amazon warehouse and was replaced by a robot could be trained to focus on other areas of customer retention such as sales management.

The greatest barrier to advancement is still organizational complexity. The number of executives who cite it as a barrier is more than twice what it was in the past. Burnout is also a problem, with data indicating that employees feel overburdened, possibly because of the complexity.

These developments provide a chance for businesses to grow and the world to become a better place. This starts with providing diverse workers with the support they need to do their job efficiently - and building trust and confidence among employees will be critical. A person's perception and value will be vastly affected by the way he or she is treated today.

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