- The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies at a faster speed than we could have imagined.
- As business undergoes change, companies are realizing the power of technology to unify dispersed, global talent.
- Virtual learning and telehealth are also becoming more advanced and could deliver benefits throughout the world.
If the global coronavirus pandemic has exposed humanity’s vulnerability, it has also highlighted its resilience. Forced to adapt to a world in which most physical interaction is impossible or largely limited, much of society has been pushed to rely on virtual engagement. In many places, people have had to work remotely, visit the doctor remotely and even repair appliances remotely. Call it the shift to ‘tele-everything’.
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies at a faster speed than we could have imagined. Transformations that might have taken years have happened in months. As futurist Ben Pring, co-founder of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, said recently, “COVID-19 is quickly making the future the present.’’
The transition to a digital future has not always gone smoothly. There have been challenges in adjusting to virtual formats, and there are some problems that still need to be addressed. For instance, there are legitimate concerns that those who lack skills, education, and access to technology will be left behind, widening an already too-wide gap between haves and have-nots.
There are, however, reasons to be optimistic that a more virtual world will be a better one, delivering benefits around the globe. I will touch on three areas where the potential for change looks particularly promising based on the evolution seen to date.
Engaging employees globally
It will take time to get an accurate read on how companies fared during the sudden shift to remote work, but it is clear that the long-term implications are top of mind. A July survey by KPMG observed that 64% of its respondents “want the flexibility to work remotely at least part of the time,” whereas 59% of respondents also indicated “the desire to be in the office or onsite most of the time.”
While perspectives on returning to the office are mixed, the pandemic has driven companies to revisit longstanding norms and adopt a more virtual, global mindset. This period has demonstrated the power of technology to unify dispersed talent bases around the world. Technology itself has made it easier for people to work together better — both remotely and in person — using video-conferencing, messaging and a variety of collaboration tools. As companies have had to adapt to such practices, they have also been able to tap into a broader talent pool and retain employees in locations around the world — which levels the playing field for those in regions where promising job opportunities may not be available.