Putting aside for a moment the lessons learned from the pandemic, be they moral, spiritual, religious, even political, there is an aspect of what has been lived through that is bringing profound change. It’s in how we work, plus for many, whereand when they work. How work is done, where work gets done. How who does what with whom, the dynamics of work. Even when work gets done. Add to that the perception of work. And the appreciation of workers.
The long storied water cooler may no longer hold its once beloved place in office life. It may have been supplanted by the private chat feature in Zoom or the one-to-one or selected group messaging in Slack. People seem to be bringing their own water bottles to work these days, anyway.
It has been apparent for two decades or longer that the world is becoming more digital, more dependent on connectivity. Computing, data/data storage and immediacy of availability are realities in nearly all businesses. What has become strikingly evident as a result of the pandemic is how present that is. In use everywhere, not only by nerds or the techies. No longer is it “becoming” more digital. The ascendance of the digital age is here, everywhere, throughout all of our lives. The pandemic brought this clearly into focus.
In the traditional workplace it has become ever more apparent. The advent of desktop computers in the workplace goes as far back as the very early 1980s. Then came laptops, WiFi, high speed computing. The last decade introduced tablets and smartphones with more computing power than the original IBM PCs and Apple Macs. Computers and computing are now everywhere. Networking and global interactions, data access and sharing changed the way much of business is conducted. Time and distance barriers are all but eliminated.
Curiously, despite computing being so present throughout business, the large scale perception, therefore the breakthrough, of a fully digital distributed work environment enabled via connectivity had not yet taken hold. The concept of a fully digital functional, productive, dynamic, rewarding and utilitarian work environment was not generally embraced in the standard office workplace realm.
Then came the pandemic.
The result: as of now in many, many cases, the workplace is no longer the workplace of yesteryear. The pandemic paved the way for Working From Home as a new norm. Working From Home (WFH) emerged as a new phrase in the global lexicon. Working remotely doesn’t just mean changing the channel or the volume.