IT Brief Asia logo
Technology news for Asia's largest enterprises
Story image

How working life has improved due to COVID-19

FYI, this story is more than a year old

While it would be easy to reflect on 2020 as a disastrous dumpster fire of a year, the reality is that the pandemic has changed the workplace for the better. And many of these modifications are likely to be permanent.

This is undoubtedly difficult to appreciate from our current vantage point, but by the end of 2021, we will likely witness the seeds sown during the crisis begin to bear sustainable fruit. In fact, you can already observe alterations that have had an almost universal impact regardless of industry or geography.

The last 50 years of work have been defined by predictable patterns involving who is doing the work, where it occurs and when it happens. While these standards have been impacted by technological advancements, demographic shifts and emerging social norms, COVID-19 has accelerated new ways of working.

While most organisations initially resisted the inevitable reforms that accompanied the crisis, virtually all of them eventually accepted that work could be done anywhere, anytime and by almost anyone.

A major US outdoor gear retailer announced earlier this year that it was selling its brand new, never used corporate headquarters. The reason was simple: it was no longer necessary and would save a significant amount of money as it looked for ways to endure the coronavirus's economic impact.

According to a recent Gartner survey, this is not a temporary shift that will revert to ‘normal' post-pandemic, as 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part-time going forward. These same leaders understand that it will be the elastic enterprise that withstands the future's inexorable disruptions.

While it is easy to point to technology as the enabler of the new work-from-home environment, the truth is our mental mindset is the crucial component for long-term acceptance of this new model. The visceral reaction that usually accompanies the request to allow people to work remotely is based on the assumption that they will be less productive and more prone to laziness.

The reality is quite different, according to Natalia Emanuel and Emma Harrington, PhD candidates in economics at Harvard. They evaluated call centre workers in a Fortune 500 retailer and found that productivity increased 8% to 10% in remote workers versus on-site. And while our attitudes about the evolving world of work are important, technology may hold the key to the long-term future of work.

Humanity at work

Before the pandemic, the topic du jour was how technology (particularly artificial intelligence and machine learning) was destroying our economic livelihood. A study by Pew Research found that 82% of US adults say that by 2050, robots and computers will likely do much of the work currently done by humans.

While politicians and prognosticators have wielded this platitude for decades, recent computing and automation advancements have given it fresh fuel. Research by economists Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo seems to corroborate this point of view as they predict a reduction in employment and wages resulting from industrial robots.

Others suggest that technology has historically created more jobs than it destroyed, and that workers have benefited from improvements in quality of life and even income. It may sound counter-intuitive, but could technology be the key to creating a more human experience at work?

As work has emerged from industrial roots to more of a services orientation, the number of jobs that require manual labour has declined. Even as those jobs shifted to ones requiring more administrative and transactional work, new forms of automation have replaced those positions as well.

What is left is work that requires a genuinely human skillset, including critical-thinking, problem-solving, creativity, communication and even compassion. This is the reason that a global eCommerce giant announced last year that it was spending US$700 million to retrain its employees. It recognised that eventually, their operations will be comprised mostly of machinery, and that their people will need to upskill and reskill to remain relevant.

As we migrate to these new roles and responsibilities, ubiquitous cloud technologies have enabled us to maintain uninterrupted connectivity.

5G has arrived and is enabling mobile devices, IoT sensors and video platforms while work/life balance transforms into work/life integration. We get to peer into our colleagues' personal lives through Zoom calls, and we realise that they have kids and pets and a decorating style we would not have guessed.

And all the while, the world moves away from traditional models of 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, on-site, full-time work arrangements and toward 4-day work weeks, temporary gigs from anywhere and daily pay.

Data has changed everything

As the pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies and operational models, it also hastened the digital transformation of the workplace.

Virtually all work is somehow captured in a computerised format, which provides endless opportunities to elevate how work happens. By aggregating the droves of data now readily available, organisations can predict and prescribe the orchestration of work in an evidence-based format. And as companies concede that their ability to harness the power of data is the key to sustainability, the most intriguing reservoir of data is arguably in their HR systems.

While this people data could be used in various ways, including real-time engagement scores, quantitative productivity ratings and optimised schedules, the real value lies in the utilisation of behavioural data.

Top companies like Google and Hilton no longer require degrees, and employers acknowledge that specialised skills can become obsolete in a matter of months. Instead, these organisations have prioritised hiring individuals with transferrable skills and foundational behavioural characteristics so that they can redistribute talent as environmental and economic conditions change.

Most of us would likely agree that 2020 has been a year to forget. But it would be a shame to revert to the way things were once vaccines are widely distributed, and the world opens back up.

We have seen wild experiments based on necessity, and lessons learned that should not be forgotten. And we have real potential to continue the momentum created by this crisis for the betterment of workers everywhere.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cloud Security
DDLS joins the Offensive Security Global Partner programme
DDLS will provide OffSec training products in A/NZ, including penetration testing, cloud security, web application, exploit development and security operations.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Spike in demand for cybersecurity training amid skills shortage
"Organisations cannot just rely on cybersecurity professionals to safeguard the businesses’ infrastructure and protect their data."
Story image
Network Management
VMware announces CSP product innovations and partnerships
These additions enable CSPs to modernise networks and accelerate 5G core, RAN and edge deployments and lifecycle management.
Story image
eCommerce
New FedEx report reveals biggest trends in eCommerce
The report shows that SMEs and consumers agree that there's room for further growth in the already booming eCommerce sector.
Story image
Web Development
Kafkawize joins Aiven to further open source journey
The acquisition signals Aiven's evolution from an open-source contributor to a steward of open-source communities. As part of this transition, Kafkawize has also been renamed Klaw.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
TeamViewer and Hyundai Motor sign new strategic partnership
TeamViewer and Hyundai Motor have signed a strategic partnership with the hopes of accelerating digital innovation within an automotive smart factory.
Story image
Sustainable IT
Adobe surveys sustainability at work in Hong Kong employees
The top three sustainability practices are reducing paper usage (46%), digital document storage and management (43%), and curbing electricity consumption (37%).
Story image
Cybersecurity
Best practices for industrial cyber resilience
Operational technology (OT) security is gaining more attention than ever before, but sufficient understanding of what it takes to prevent breaches is still lacking amongst many organisations.
Story image
Microsoft
Yubico research finds concerning trends around authentication security practices
A new global survey from Yubico has found that 59% of employees still rely on usernames and passwords as the primary method to authenticate their accounts.
Story image
Sustainable IT
Equinix commits US$50 million to advance digital inclusion
Establishes the Equinix Foundation, an employee-driven charitable organisation, to advance digital inclusion through grants and strategic partnerships.
Story image
Firewall
Barracuda accelerates growth in its data protection business
Barracuda cloud-to-cloud backup protects against evolving cyber threats, such as ransomware, and is now transactable in the Azure Marketplace.
Story image
Radio access network
Dell and Fujitsu team up on Open RAN solutions and initiatives
Dell Technologies and Fujitsu are working together to make it easier for CSPs to accelerate the adoption and simplify the deployment of Open RAN.
Story image
Databricks
Qlik and Databricks partnership advances cloud analytics
Qlik has announced two significant enhancements to its partnership with Databricks that make it easier for customers to combine Qlik's solutions and Databricks.
Story image
Microsoft
A deep dive into a Corporate Espionage operation
In the last few years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the level of sophistication of cyberattacks, mostly thanks to the introduction of the profit-sharing business model for financially motivated threat actors.
AWS Marketplace
Whitepaper: A practical guide for mitigating risk in today’s modern applications
Link image
Story image
Data Protection
99% of security experts unhappy with tokenisation investment
Cybersecurity experts are looking for a solution that provides the strength of tokenisation while removing the friction that has accompanied it in the past.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Continuous attack attempts discovered on Atlassian Confluence zero day
Following a coordinated disclosure of a zero-day vulnerability by Volexity in Atlassian Confluence, attackers went wild to exploit it.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How businesses can stay connected with their clients in a digital environment
Staying connected in a virtual world requires strong communication and collaboration, especially with many workplaces adopting a work-from-anywhere business model.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Exclusive: Uniphore shares how Conversational AI can be the key to business success
Conversational AI and Automation are vital tools to help further promote organisational cohesion and communication, and Uniphore is leading the charge.
Aws Marketplace
Learn how to implement a backup and recovery plan for a new generation of Kubernetes-based modern applications
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Fortinet advances AIOps to aid the hybrid workforce
"We’re continuing our commitment to AI innovation by delivering AIOps capabilities across our robust portfolio of enterprise networking technology."
Story image
IT Automation
Tech job moves - Adobe, Ambit, blueAPACHE, Cue & DC Blox
We round up all job appointments from September 26-,30 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cloud Services
Dell and Wind River transform telecom cloud deployments
Dell’s industry-first co-engineered solution with Wind River speeds the adoption of open, cloud-native network technologies.
Story image
Digital Transformation
NEC Corporation and Red Hat expand global collaboration
NEC Corporation and Red Hat have announced an expanded global collaboration to drive IT modernisation and digital transformation on Red Hat OpenShift.
Story image
Customer Relationship Management
Diagnostic: Does your tech stack up for growth?
It’s common for tech companies to encounter limitations in their tech stack as they experience growth. After all, at first, you only need to invest in systems to support the needs of an early-stage or single-entity business.
Story image
Virtual Private Network
BT enhances global Cardway portfolio with Mako Networks
BT has announced a significant enhancement to its Cardway portfolio of payment solutions following the signing of a global agreement with Mako Networks.
Story image
Cloud Services
Workday shares a vision to transform the partner ecosystem
The firm will unveil an enhanced partner program in early 2023, including three consolidated tracks for innovation, go-to-market, and service partners.
Story image
Malware
Black Lotus Labs discovers new, multipurpose malware
Black Lotus Labs, the threat intelligence team at Lumen, has discovered a new, rapidly growing, multipurpose malware written in the Go programming language.
Story image
Apple
Jamf shows intent to acquire mobile security firm ZecOps
This acquisition positions Jamf to help IT and security teams strengthen their organisation’s mobile security posture.
Story image
IT infrastructure
Kyndryl launches open solution, powered by co-creation
Kyndryl Vital is led by global teams of designers who work alongside customers and partners to define and solve complex problems with innovation.
Story image
Tax
BlackLine adds tax hyperautomation capabilities to its solutions
The extension to BlackLine's intercompany solutions comes in response to organisations facing increasing intercompany tax scrutiny globally.
Story image
Ransomware
Commonwealth tackling rising cybercrime threat in Asia
Ransomware, identity theft, and virtual security attacks identified as growing threats to security and economic growth.
Story image
Cloud
IBM releases Transformation Index to assist cloud innovation
IBM has released its Transformation Index: State of Cloud, commissioned by the company and conducted by an independent research firm.
Story image
Omnichannel
The need for purpose-built mobility in retail today
Against the backdrop of increasing competition, retailers are increasingly looking for ways in which they can take costs out of their business without sacrificing operational efficiencies.
Story image
eCommerce
Customer loyalty drops when brands don't innovate - report
Customers are quick to flee slow-to-innovate brands with lagging commerce experiences, with millennials and Gen Z leading the migration.
Story image
Customer Relationship Management
NetSuite helps Australian bridal boutique to scale operations globally
Grace Loves Lace is now using Oracle NetSuite to create enhanced experiences for brides from Queensland, Australia, to locations worldwide. 
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Zendesk adds AI capabilities to customer support solutions
Zendesk recently announced Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist, new artificial intelligence (AI) solutions empowering businesses with customer support.
Story image
Firewall
Forrester names Akamai as web application firewall leader
"We continually monitor and improve our capabilities to defend customers from new threats, while enabling customers to protect evolving attack surfaces."
Story image
Subscriptions
Denodo targets mid-market with new subscription models
These new subscriptions will help mid-market companies to streamline data integration and accelerate speed to insights.
Story image
Cloud
MYOB provides efficiency boost with new inventory solution
Premium Inventory is an integrated solution that helps goods-based businesses improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase cashflow.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Test your API Security with Infinite API Scanner
The effectiveness of API scanning technology can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful programming outcomes, and often enterprises and IT leaders struggle to get it right.