It is safe to say that 2020 has presented itself in a way no one expected it to. We have witnessed what seems all but certain to be a historical and paradigm shifting moment in an already illustrious history of mankind.
Lockdown has helped change our viewpoints on how our fates are linked but also how we tackle our work life and the role technology plays within it. For instance pre-COVID, the use of virtual meetings such as Google hangouts were seen as instruments for remote working during special circumstances. A lot of businesses viewed remote working as inaccessible for their line of work. In 2019, only 30% of UK employees worked from home. However since lockdown took place, it was reported that 49% of the UK workforce were working from home (in April) – almost 20% more than the whole of 2019 – bringing in a new era of working. Despite this massive change, productivity of work output has not lapsed as some thought. The success of this has been led by the use of collaborative, shared based working solutions such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft Office 365 to allow people to work and chat on the same documents, spreadsheets and projects all at once.
Ironically, the social distancing measures have called for less individualism and greater stress of community. An article written by Eric Klinenberg outlines that the pandemic would call for us to “reconsider who we are and what we value…”. This should also resonate with brands. As society begins to rebuild and build new structures (as seen with the working from home example), brands have the opportunity to cement their names within these times; much like Disney during the Great Depression by bringing smiles at a time of economical turmoil. The trick was to not neglect the things that were happening, but to rather show how their brand could see a way out of it, by either revolutionising their industry or depicting some sort of escapism. In Disney’s case, it was both. Some event firms have already begun doing this, with the likes of Notting Hill Carnival announcing online performances for people to enjoy whilst obeying social distancing measures from their homes.
This change in environment and success of remote working also means saved time on stretched out commuting (the7stars QT showed that 19% of people are going to miss the time saved not commuting during lockdown) and has enabled workers to be simultaneously ‘at their desk’ or ‘in a meeting’ at the single press of the button. This shift opens the door to more people being able to do jobs they wouldn’t have previously been able to (i.e. new parents and those who are caretakers), which in turn increases diversity along with helping the battle with Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Without a doubt society has been called to rethink its many structures as a result of COVID. However, there is a sense of opportunity and optimism here, as with any fallen building lies the opportunity for another building or something completely different to rise.