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The virtual post-COVID-19 generation: the ‘next normal’ or ‘business as usual’?

There is little doubt that a crisis on the scale we are currently experiencing can, and probably will, change society in dramatic ways once it’s all over. It’s already changing our relationship with our governments, with the outside world, and with each other. In a good way we are seeing greater appreciation and less polarisation. But you have to wonder, thinking along some big lines, what else will change – and will it all be good? Will hugging and hand shaking become taboo? Will restaurants, bars and nightclubs as we know them become a different thing altogether in a post-coronavirus era? And without trying to sound crass, will we find we can’t stop washing our hands? For all of us who will have lived through COVID-19, awareness of our own mortality, and of the fragility of our society, will have changed how we think—forever.

And what about work and the workplace? Perhaps the idea of a bustling office will become anathema to us. “Is there a reason to do this online?” may be replaced with “Is there any good reason to do this in person?”. One of the positives of the pandemic is the incredible growth of infrastructure around remote working and the pivotal role that technology is playing. Corporate VPN networks are the unexpected coronavirus winners, having never been tested like this before, with entire workforces logging on from outside the office. Companies are scaling up their networks as fast as they can. Bandwidth caps are being lifted. Online comms and conference calling services have taken off. Digital collaborative tools have become an essential weapon against lockdown, with many of the biggest global vendors, like Microsoft, offering services for free. For us at PA Business Support, champions of virtual assistants for years, these kind of changes are welcome.

According to The Guardian, many employees are already starting to question why they had to go in to the office in the first place. Millions of people are now getting to feel what it’s like not to have long daily commutes, or to have to brave the rush hour, or the harsh inflexibility of not being able to look after a sick family member. The popular thinking at the moment is that some businesses will find employees don’t want to go back to the office once the lockdown is lifted. And if the bolstering and scaling of remote working technologies we just mentioned is taken into account, we must ask the question, do they even have a good reason to?

And if the answer is no, then the whole country could change. Not just in terms of lifestyle, or virtual working, but in terms of geography; for example, if living close to the office stops being a significant factor in deciding where to live, then perhaps the appeal of living in the suburbs will wane. It has even been considered that we could be heading towards a world in which far-flung “new villages” rise in prominence while your traditional commuter belts simply fade away. Perhaps even the dreaded rush hour will become a thing of the past … ok, maybe not, but we can dream!

Whatever happens, it probably won’t be ‘business as usual’ for quite some time. The economy will have suffered a hit, so will general workforce productivity, and fear of a resurgent virus threat may be around for a while. However, those businesses that acted early, and are already working remotely, stand a better chance of surviving into what McKinsey calls, ‘the next normal’ – a “normal that looks unlike any in the years preceding”. It’s this ‘next normal’ which we at PA Business Support see as the future, a future that’s more than anything, virtual – and a future which we will continue to embrace for years to come.

If you want to make a confident and stable step into a virtual post-pandemic future, hiring virtual assistants may be the best, most economical way forward. Give us a call – we can help.

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