The Pandemic has precipitated the reorganization of the workplace, redefined the rules regarding the conduct of business and the way the way in which companies, employees and all stakeholders engage with each other.
Home is now an integral extension of the office space with employees operating from makeshift offices space carved out of bedrooms, living room, kitchen and the garage. The house chores and schedules being dramatically reshuffled with little or faint boundaries between office-time and house-time. Family time is blurred and confused with severe impact on domestic relationships. Working in pyjamas is reality and many a time have we inadvertently witnessed these on the zoom calls.
Bedrooms, lounges, dining rooms and in some cases already existing small corner offices in the house are all extensions to the connected office web which has now managed to cross the sacro-saint barrier of demarcation between the home and the office. Over the years the office has slowly encroached on the private segment of the lives of the employees and this time round COVID 19 combined with enabling technology removed the last pockets of resistance. The home had always been the safe haven specifically designed for human habitation and this is now set to change permanently as work takes over and invades this living space.
The sudden, unprepared and forced shift from the office work place to remote work from home also brings up questions as to the productivity of each and every employee and their general mental well-being.
The working patterns have been definitely altered and the employers may find it less costly to permanently encourage the employees to operate remotely and save on the costs involved in maintaining expensive office space. The employees may also, on the other hand, feel more comfortable working from home and may not wish to return to the office once the closures are lifted, which should result in increased savings and would allow the employees to spend more time with family. Would this result in productivity gains? This remains to be seen as there is a significant difference between a forced short-term measure and a long-term permanent situation.
In theory, homeworking should limit absences, increase productivity and pave the way for increased savings. The widespread use of remote working will also democratize the access to wider range of jobs as the geography should no longer be a restrictive factor.
There is however general consensus that key advantages of working from home could be multiple as the absence of commuting to work should result in a decrease in depression, divorce and fossil-fuel emissions and an increase in work life balance and productivity across the board.
Enterprise video communications have taken a prominent central place in the day to day running of business meetings and as a new work culture is being chiseled, so are the business norms being thoroughly reviewed. The digital revolution allows for great flexibility and the way forward will be determined to a large extent by the application of Artificial Intelligence combined with novel ideas and enhanced cyber security.
We are only at the beginning of the workplace revolution and there is currently a completely radical review of the work place which would result on an evolutive and dynamic work environment. The technologies will be the major enablers and the humans, as has always been the case, will adapt.
The economies have stalled as a result of lock downs and strict confinement measures. In many instances the enterprises have had no choice but to cull their workforces in an attempt to remain viable in the short term. This has resulted in high levels of unemployment which are likely to rise further. Of late we have also witnessed a steady increase of automation in the workplace driven by AI, deep learning and huge digital infrastructural capabilities. The post COVID 19 world will see an acceleration of automation at the expense of human employment and this is likely to result in further polarization of economies and a rise in nationalism and anti-globalization.
The landing spot post Covid 19 of the economies and businesses will be significantly different from what was pre Covid. Those who plan or hope to go back to the world we left in March 2020 will very quickly be trapped in a vicious downward cycle. The future depends on nimbleness, vision, acceptance that the world as we know it is gone and that our points of reference are obsolete. New rules are being defined and as these are established and rooted it is critical for the work life balance to be in the center of the equation.It is also a sine qua non condition that societies will also have to redefine themselves to make place for automation whilst taking care of the unemployed and ensuring sustainable economic growth.
Saleem Beebeejaun is a global consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in senior managerial positions and operated at the highest level of large organizations as CEO and as Chairperson. Saleem’s experience spans across both the financial and non-financial services sector, in particular in the African region. He is an independent Chairperson of board, a director, a chief executive officer, advisor and an entrepreneur and interacts in a very diversified environment, interacting with people of different nationalities, background and cultures. He acts as business facilitator for many HNWIs and has an intuitive ability to gauge clients’ needs and believes in the value of true independent advice, away from institutional commercial pressures.
After completing his Licence – Lès Sciences Economiques from the University of Montpellier, France, Saleem Beebeejaun started his professional career as a supervisor working in the agricultural sector, mainly managing cane fields, with his grandfather. He subsequently undertook further studies in insurance and graduated as a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute. He was awarded the H G Greening prize rewarding him as the first in Life subjects worldwide.
Saleem also followed the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School and is a Harvard alumnus.
Saleem is currently the Chairperson of Rio Zim Limited a listed mining company operating in Zimbabwe and is Chairman of Ashton Financial Partners a management company licensed by the Financial Services Commission in Mauritius
He is the immediate past and first chairperson of Warwyck Private Bank established in Mauritius and licensed by the Bank of Mauritius and is an adviser to Warwyck Investment Holdings the holding company of the bank.
Saleem has served as the Honorary Consul of Malaysia to Mauritius since 2008. He has been very active and has helped organize many missions and visits of Malaysian dignitaries to Mauritius.
His personal website is https://saleembeebeejaun.com/