Let’s reflect on the trends that will define the future post-pandemic life as we end a turbulent and demanding 2020.
“Life is in the transitions,” said American philosopher William James. “We can’t ignore these central times of life. We have to accept them, name them, mark them, share them, and eventually convert them into fuel for remaking our life stories.” Starting a new year always offers a seed of hope, so now is a good time to discover the opportunities brought on by the crisis because when challenges are properly channeled, they can help us build a different and, hopefully, better world.
Technology is King
What would have happened to us this year without the Internet? If it seemed like a great invention before the pandemic, there can be no doubt that we live in the era of connectivity and that the pulse of our lives is a Wi-Fi signal. At the beginning of this year, the entire world became dependent –from one day to the next– on technology; suddenly we all began to study, work, shop and even interact through electronic devices. In the past twelve months, the total number of people who connected to the Internet for the first time climbed to 346 million, which is equivalent to 8% year-on-year growth. More than 8 out of 10 mobile users have stated that the Internet was essential to surviving the pandemic, because it allowed them to oversee their children’s education (76%), keep in touch with friends and family (74%) and even improve their well-being (43%).
No matter how connected we are, we are not zombies. The technological revolution gave Artificial Intelligence a seat on the Board of Directors but, according to the Deloitte 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, 60% of those consulted declare that Artificial Intelligence is used more by way of support than for actually replacing people’s work. In fact, as the study attests, the managers of the future will coordinate super teams that combine human capital with Artificial Intelligence. Technology will be responsible for data, traceability and transparency, but people will be measured by their soft skills: by their connectedness, of course, but also by their social and emotional savvy, their degree of adaptability and their resilience.
Remote is Better
Among the many break-outs of 2020, remote work became the cornerstone of the “new normal”, and it even earned its own slogan: “Work is where the wifi is”. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, between 35% and 40% of employees in developed economies confirmed that they worked from home in 2020. The report estimates that depending on the area of work, more than 20% of the workforce will be able to continue working from home between three and five days a week with the same efficiency as in the office. It also states that remote work reduces production costs, places remote talent within reach, and maintains productivity levels with flexible hours. According to it, remote work also enhances concentration, makes work/life balance more compatible, and because it reduces commuting it also protects the environment. In practice, cloud-based remote work allows for information to be shared effectively, so that all the members of a team can be aligned and monitor work execution with transparency and efficiency.
The Future is Female
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted 87% of the world’s women-led companies. This is a result of various factors, from gender inequality in terms of technological access to the fact that a majority of women work in the areas that were most affected by the recession. Paradoxically, women hold the keys to recovery. Prompted by the independence and creativity that fosters liquid and agile work (which is nothing more than structuring work based on three main ideas: digitalization, flexibility and mobility) more women have turned to entrepreneurship. Additionally countries such as New Zealand, Germany, Finland, Taiwan and Denmark, demonstrate that the leaders who have managed the pandemic best are women. By implementing a confident and altruistic model that is currently spearheading the world, they have not only taken us down the path to a more inclusive and fairer society, but have produced excellent returns as well.
Understandably, we are all getting anxious to turn the page to the New Year, but let’s linger for a moment on the valuable teachings that 2020 will leave in its wake. Barely twenty days before it ends, we should be feeling acutely aware of what has been a change so great that this New Year’s Eve will be unlike any other: it is the threshold to the future that we are now creating.
It is my wish that 2021 brings us the health and the optimism we all need to keep on looking at the bright side of life.