This time has been one of reflexion, but also readjustment to new found ways of living and working. From travelling to and from work, socializing after work freely without much thought sometimes, we have seen a time where for the first time in the lives of many, people have been forced to stay indoors, use the internet more to connect with the outside world, and even do basic things!
The most acute of these has been work: shifting from the office for many to the home. In some cases since many countries have begun lifting their restrictions, many employers have allowed workers to stay at home or only allowed a circulation of workers to come in so as to keep social distancing in the place depending on the jurisdiction. The Guardian reported from Vodafone that:
Furthermore, the same article reports:
The increase in data comes from a wide range of activities, from children accessing educational material online, playing digital games and watching films and TV on multiple devices, as well as people working from home. (Mark Sweney, “Vodafone reports 50% rise in internet use as more people work from home.” The Guardian. March 2020)
This rise of the flexible work place has been in the background for many years. The CIPD Megatrends report (Click here
) produced in April 2020 states the two big trends pushing this have been:
The importance of computers in work, and the ubiquity of computers at home and that Now not only do most jobs involve a computer, but for most jobs the use of a computer is essential (CIPD, Megatrends: Working from home – what’s driving the rise in remote working? April 2020).
To reinforce this point, the report produced the following two graphs from Skill and Employment Survey To reinforce this point, the report produced the following two graphs from Skill and Employment Survey to show the trend towards remote working with jobs needing a computer before this pandemic. In 1986, 40% were using a job with a computer, but this has jumped to 75% in 2012. Moreover, from 1997 where respondents answered 30% as a computer being essential for work, jumping to 51% in 2017!
Though this report is UK Based, the data could be replicated across many countries in what can be termed industrialized nations. In an article by Zaryn Dentzel entitled How the Internet has changed everyday life, he states in no uncertain terms that the development of the Internet today is being shaped predominantly by instant, mobile communications. The mobile Internet is a fresh revolution (Zeryn Dentzel, “How the Internet Has Changed Everyday Life,” BBVA. June 2020).
The rise of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype to conduct meetings and even teaching, has seen this mobile manner of communication step from a purely entertainment focused area to one of work, too. This has meant with remote connectivity available to workers, the need to work in a physical spot has slowly been chipped away for years on end. As Dentzel also added later in the article:
"The Internet, in addition to its communicative purposes, has become a vital tool for exchanging knowledge and education; it is not just an information source, or a locus where results can be published, it is also a channel for cooperating with other people and groups who are working on related research topics."
This pandemic with lockdowns and restrictions on movement, has accelerated these elements and shifts rather than introduced them. Thus, the ever increasing need to travel into the office has been shown to be redundant, and fitting in with a lifestyle that now suits many better, potentially counterproductive.
So what shall the future hold? A future with an ever increasing reliance on the Internet and remote based working. However, History is cyclical, and like all trends, this trend shall give way to something else when society begins finding other wishes, methods or ways that fit it at a given time. Right now, we are given to working flexibly and in our time; more so as heavy industry based work gives way to more service type work. However, a society needs its manual base to build things, and as we move forward, there shall surely be a shift back to more physical and manual work where we find the need for it. However for now, there seems to be just one option, with a mixture of outside contact as and when needed, in a growing amount of industries. The future is surely moving towards remote working, and thus as mentioned at the beginning, the Travelling Office.