INSIGHT

Is Coronavirus the Catalyst for a New Digital Society?.

Emmet McEvoy

Emmet McEvoy

Search & Content Executive

As the coronavirus lockdown starts we ask, is this the new normal?

It’s a global pandemic affecting the lives of billions of people.

Isolation and lockdown have become unlikely buzzwords in 2020 as governments around the world try to contain the coronavirus spread.

Reliance on digital platforms is accelerating like never before. After Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement, work, school and most aspects of everyday life are moving online out of necessity.

So, is coronavirus the catalyst for a new digital society?

Working from home

working from home during coronavirus

Aside from health which is the most important thing, the biggest impact of coronavirus has been on how people carry out their work.

Sadly, some have lost their jobs or been temporarily laid off. It’s a nightmare scenario and we can only hope for positive outcomes once this blows over.

Others are fortunate in that they can work remotely.

Working from home is nothing new. Companies across many different sectors offer it as part of a flexible working arrangement. But the emergence of the coronavirus has forced the hands of those who have so far resisted.

The flexibility and variety associated with remote working can boost productivity.

Indeed, a 2016 paper by employee management software company TinyPulse found that over 90% of employees who regularly work from home get more done.

However, there are some issues with working away from the office.

Only certain jobs lend themselves to working from home. For a digital firm like Origin, it was a simple matter of packing up our computers and setting up shop in our living rooms. It’s not that simple for those working in industries like hospitality or construction.

Even firms who have the capacity for remote working can experience issues.

Some staff might not be used to working from home or find they don’t enjoy it. In most companies, some employees will be autonomous and thrive under isolation, and others will need a push in the right direction. It’s a difficult balance to strike.

Digital agencies thrive on creative collaboration. Sometimes having everyone in the room is the best way to do this and conferencing just doesn’t cut it.

But, in the current climate, there’s no choice but to adapt.

The tools are there

apps that help with working from home

The good news is tools that make real-time collaboration easy have evolved in the last few years.

Platforms like Slack or Hangouts allow users to stay up to date with the rest of their team. Skype and Zoom allow for convenient conferencing and virtual meetings. Google Drive and Amazon Web Services offer easy remote access to files.

Meetings with clients are a key part of many businesses. In the days of isolation and lockdown, social media can be used for connecting with contacts. People can develop virtual relationships when in-person meetings fall victim to coronavirus.

Companies might even save time on unnecessary meetings…

There’s no doubt many companies have been forced to adapt to a digital society because of coronavirus. It might be a learning curve with some bumps along the road, but it could be viewed as a social experiment that could lead to a more flexible and productive model.

Other impacts on society

Health and work are two of the biggest aspects of everyday life impacted by coronavirus but almost every facet of society has been affected.

Isolation can be tough, but the younger generation have grown up in the digital age. Most people own a smartphone and have plenty of social media accounts. Staying connected shouldn’t be an issue:

stay connected during coronavirus lockdown

It’s not so simple for other aspects of everyday life.

Universities have moved to remote teaching and schools have closed. The use of virtual learning tools such as C2K in Northern Ireland will thrive over the coming months. Like remote working, these have been driven by necessity but may well become the norm.

The hospitality sector has felt the full force of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, a sizeable number of companies haven’t survived but others have been saved by delivery technology like Deliveroo or Just Eat. They were already popular, but these companies will be a huge aspect of the hospitality sector once this blows over.

There are so many more examples. People order groceries online, gets their news online, book appointments online. This was already happening; it’s just been accelerated by coronavirus.

Post-virus society

What a post-coronavirus society will look like is anyone’s guess. We don’t know how long the outbreak will last or what the full impact will be. However, there’s little doubt that the virus is pushing almost every aspect of everyday life towards digital solutions.

If that results in a more flexible, productive, connected society, it may well become the norm.

Change starts here

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