Preparing for Tomorrow: The Secrets to Thriving in a Post-Covid-19 World

Many businesses have shut shop while others have thrived after transitioning quickly to a virtual ecosystem and had the necessary resources to do so. But the truth is there for all to see — work needs to be retrofitted with digitalisation for businesses to survive and thrive in the future.

In many ways, the pandemic has been an eyeopener — people and businesses all around the world have had to rely on technology, and use the right tools in order to get work done. The need to embrace the sudden shift to remote work, amongst other things, was all the more accelerated as the global economy tumbled, markets crashed, and people lost jobs.

Yes, work is being done and things are going back to normal even as the pandemic rages on. And digitalisation of work, including the leveraging of technology has to be credited for whatever has been possible.

Although this adaptability and sudden metamorphosis of skills to lessen the impact of the pandemic is commendable, we’re still left with the thought of what will happen when recovery does come (which, by the way, will come); or rather, what should individuals and businesses do to ensure that the comeback is not business as usual but, in fact, business is better?

Here’s what can be done to make the workforce stronger. 

  1. It all begins with the skills

It’s not a secret anymore — people are losing jobs. The pandemic is directly or indirectly influencing this trend. There’s less work out there for a job seeking community that’s swelling in numbers by the day. Given this circumstance, it’s crucial that people embrace digital skills as it will usher creativity, resilience, and collaboration.

But the threat is not over yet — the pandemic is still out there. While some regions have started opening up offices and businesses, others are completely shut down and people are still working remotely. In fact, the open-for-business regions are not back in full swing either as government norms are still in place to curb the spread. Either way, people need to get work done from a safe distance or otherwise.

This, again, where the skills come in and dictate the work; managers have to ensure that their team members collaborate with each other and that they are motivated — this ability only comes through upskilling and/or rekilling of the managers. Job seekers need to adapt quickly to an unfamiliar setting where the world is rapidly changing, competition is fierce, and digitalisation is the new normal.  

  1. Gauge skills and improve at all costs

Remote work ushers in new opportunities to reskill and/or upskill. Perhaps the most crucial resource that comes out of this is time. Employers can save a lot of time by not working at night and skipping commutes which they can use to work on their skills.

In the current setting, job seekers who have been laid off can become more employable by utilising the time off to upskill themselves. It’s not going to be easy though as we are living in a time where personal and professional lives have intertwined — people have had to simultaneously look after their families and work in a shared environment. However, with the in-office distractions and the challenges of getting to work out of the way, they can carve out time to gauge their current skillset and add more to it.

Will it be a challenge. Definitely. Is it impossible? Not necessarily — if you know how to go about it. When it comes to assessing skills — digital or otherwise — you can start off by running a diagnostic. Unless you don’t know your own skills there is no way you can build on it. Having set that, since it has at least been a few months since you’ve balanced both work and personal life from the comfort of your home, you must have found ways and developed new skills to get work done. This can include things like collaboration, communication, task & time management, scheduling, reporting and so on. Keep in mind that the methods you’ve employed to take care of your family side-by-side are also skills that need to go on your list of things to improve or build on.

  1. Embrace virtual work: the sooner, the better

The pandemic thrust businesses into adopting virtual work completely. Remote work, which was earlier a privilege for a select group of employees and a new work culture that companies never explored fully has become a saviour during the catastrophe. 

You see, virtual work has not only kept businesses running amidst the social distancing norms and the lockdowns, but has also pushed people to pick up digital skills and other auxiliary skills such as time management, collaboration, analytical thinking, communication and so on. 

With the pandemic not yet gone, and seeing that virtual work is not so bad after all, many businesses around the world are toying with the idea of continuing remote work. Of course, there will be a lot of thinking and planning required as not every business process or resource can be transitioned to an online environment. 

Having witnessed a catastrophe like Covid-19 which has brought the world to its knees, companies now know that such global events can happen anytime in the future without any warning. Many businesses have shut shop while others have thrived only because they were able to transition quickly to a virtual ecosystem and had the necessary resources to do so. It has been a lesson, and sadly, many have learnt it the hard way. But the truth is there for all to see — work needs to be retrofitted with digitalisation for businesses to survive and thrive in the future. 

  1. Out with linear models

Traditional or linear models are those which create products and services and sell them to someone downstream in the supply chain. A great example would be factories and assembly lines. 

But why are we talking about this?

Because such entities were affected the most by the Covid-19 pandemic as they’re not agile and resilient enough. Platform companies on the other hand have been able to power through the pandemic and thrive. Digital skills have been a mainstay for governments, businesses, and individuals ever since the pandemic hit, but they also need to quickly transition to a platform-based model.

Platform models are synonymous with startups and businesses that focus on IT services and products. They are a collective ecosystem of technology, products and services which reels in the producers and consumers. A system that employs third-party collaboration and can scale quickly, the platform model is resilient to disruptions like Covid-19.

It will not be easy for some to transition to this model, but they should find a way to do it individually or through a partnership. Going forward, given the unpredictable nature of the world we live in, the platform-based model should be understood, learnt, and implemented by governments, businesses, and individuals.

  1. Ascertain the demand for work

Knowing what the future holds in store for the world of work is something that is impossible. But planning for the future of work is something that can be done up to a certain level. And the best way to go about doing it is by observing trends, guessing the type of work that is robust for geographies where the demand of work will exist.

As mentioned above, you can plan up to some level. So, given the uncertain nature of what lies ahead, the plan cannot rest on predictions. Rather, it should be based on trends. For instance, the demand for work is different in a region where an ageing population exists as compared to another where the majority of the workforce is composed of millennials and Gen-Zs.

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