6 months of lockdown

As I write this after nearing the 6 months mark of lockdown, I cannot help but think at looking back at how things have changed in the last 6 months or so.

  • Work from home is an accepted norm with remote working at an all time rise. The organizations that could slide into this mode of working have also started realizing the benefits of allowing teams to operate from home. Any teething troubles that were there have been ironed out and I am see teams of all functions coming together on Zoom/Hangouts and making it work.
  • Reverse migration has started. A lot of this working class who can work remotely has opted to move back to their native places. Just to give an example, out of my team of 8 – only one has chosen to stay in the city … the rest are safely back at their native places across the country.
  • Internet penetration and mobile services are at an all time high. The demand for Jio has never been higher with this working class scrabbling to ensure that they have steady connections at home. I see this audience’s demand in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities ensure that brands and the government focus on building out the infrastructure in remote cities.
  • This would lead to some normalization between demand and supply of all goods across higher and lower tier cities. Take Mumbai for example … in the suburbs or in Mumbai proper, it is hardly a case when you see an electricity outage. As you go outwards, you will start seeing specific load shedding hours and schedules. In the Raigad district, there is atleast one day a week when there is no electricity. As the working class goes back to these cities, either the demand for inverters will go up or the respective local governments would be petitioned to increase the quality of lifestyle.
  • Environment conditions across all cities have drastically improved, the Mumbai air feels cleaner, cooler and taking a walk doesn’t seem oppressive.
  • Organizations whose engagement models involved a lot of physical interaction have started discovering alternative methods and workarounds. Dentists have started using full-body kits, delivery boys have established clear package hand-off protocols, restaurants have started opening up with lower floor space utilization.
  • Cost of basic services and commodities have slowly increased. An annualized inflation of 15-16% looks to be on the cards and the common man is going to bear the brunt of this. Any initiative the government is going to take is only further going to exacerbate this.
  • Industries that have been doing well since lockdown –
    • Food Deliveries
    • E-commerce
    • Agri-tech
    • App enabled services
    • Edtech
    • Fintech
  • Communication apps are at an all time high. Zoom has made it to the top 10 websites in India according to Alexa.com
  • OTT platforms are raking it in with a lot of the younger audiences looking at their smartphones for entertainment. Since there haven’t been any theatre releases, all the movies that were scheduled to be released have started being covered on the OTT platforms. A quick glance at the above list by Alexa informed me that Netflix, PrimeVideo and HotStar were all in the top 20.
  • Big tech firms are going all out to change the way things are. Google pretty much gave all schools free access to Google Classroom. Both my children are using this for their new term this year.

As things start settling down from this massive change in life, I see a resilience being shown by businesses as they start figuring out a way to live and thrive in this economically challenging environment. As a technologist, I see a large need to automate a lot of business processes to keep the wheels of the industry turning.

This is what will keep the world going round.

Life and opportunities post COVID-19

It has been 2 months since we have transitioned to work from home and figuring our way out in this time. I noticed that lifestyle and working style of many of us has changed (perhaps for the better). Here’s a list of some of the highs and lows of life post COVID-19.

The highs

  • Work from home has many benefits. The time saved in transit for one. I have been saving 2 hours of idle time wasted.
  • No household help means more work, but it also means you can save on the household expenses because you were otherwise too busy.
  • You become more aware of the household chores, so does everyone else in the household. That’s a liftime savings of bad habits avoided. Not to mention that a lot of households will not go back to hiring so many household maids. We had 3 for instance.
  • Businesses have been forced to either work remotely, or to re-think their operational models. That has meant a lot of top management mental models have changed. Earlier where physical meetings were the first option (and sometimes the only option), now telephonic and video calls are working.
  • Since physical interaction between people is the way the COVID-19 is spreading, most businesses have figured out a way to work without this physical engagement. That has meant higher operational efficiencies, and also a focus on being more transparent.
  • A more conservative mindset is emerging in the society, with all expenses being more need driven than greed driven. This as meant less wastage and less consumption.
  • A large push has come for online education and self help videos. The OTT segment has really bloomed during this phase, with binge
  • The ecology is improving due to a massive cut in the consumption of fossil fuels. The hole in the ozone layer is now no more, that talks about the scale of the lockdown. What we could not as a generation manage in the past decade, a virus outbreak managed in 2 months.
  • Industries where digital enablement was missing are now the worst affected, and that’s where new opportunities are emerging. These businesses are figuring out a way to operate in post COVID-19 world. Some examples of this – real estate, financial services, banking, automotive, etc.

The lows

  • The economy is in an all-time slump with all non-essential services at a stand still. Getting them back to what they were before this crisis will easily take a year or two.
  • There is now one more excuse to discriminate and divide people
  • Physical exercise and activities for people who need them (me, my kids and parents) have diminished.
  • Non-critical healthcare and luxury item supply chain has been wrecked and acquiring specific brands has become difficult.

In the end

As a teen, I have played the hit series Fallout. I am surprised to note how fast we have shifted into living that way. The only difference is that this crisis is not nuclear, it’s a virus.

We have adapted to keep on living. What remains is how long this will continue and what practices do we keep as the world slowly comes back to normal.

Work from home the new norm

As if taken from a zombiecalypse movie, the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has impacted the entire world in a big way. Without meeting people how does work get done?

How does the economy keep running inspite of the lockdown?

These are the questions plaguing a lot of business owners. Some have continued to brave the outbreak by declaring themselves as essential services. However, take the example of some obviously non-essential services – Real Estate, Information Technology, Financial Services apart from banking. How are these industries to function?

Finding a new mode of working

The obvious answer to this is to find a new operating model. Many organizations were going the digital, or were in the process of doing digital. Now, these organizations are most suited to survive the outbreak.

For pure brick and mortar businesses, transitioning to a new way of working is paramount.

This is where work from home comes into picture. This is not anything new and in the ITES sector, the work from home paradigm has been around for more than a decade now.

However, it was always considered as a secondary mode of working and never the primary.

A new operating model

With most businesses struggling to find a way of working online, more and more tools are being sought for online collaboration.

My wife, Dr. Harshaja who runs 13 Llama Interactive marketing agency created a quick video on some tools that people can use during work from home.

5 Tools for Work from Home by Harshaja Ajinkya

A new day, a new way

The human race is very resilient and always finds a way out. I hope that like all things, this too shall pass.

Until then, lets all herald the new way of working!