The Future of Work

Sandeep Goyal
My nephew was working in a pretty decent job at a large global broadcast network when the pandemic got him to start working from home.
Rather than languish all alone in his small paying guest accommodation, and cook his own food, he winged his way back to his hometown up North from Mumbai.
Now that is a reasonably familiar narrative. Nothing new. But it was what he did next that surprised me.
He volunteered to work with the local police and use his social media skills to help them connect better with citizens.
Soon, despite the raging pandemic, he was working an 18-hours-a-day schedule with the cops.
A couple of months later, he resigned his multinational job, and accepted a consultant's position with the police at less than half his salary. I asked him why?
His answer was simple. He found "purpose" in the new job.
In the toss-up between passion and pay-check, the former won hands down.
"It's really about how do you feel about your work ? To what degree do you feel energised and immersed ? To what degree do you come to the end of the day and feel a sense of pride or satisfaction about what you've done ?" he said to me.
And then for good measure he said, "But just like my dad, you won't understand."
The last 18 months have changed the world. In many more ways than one.
Work itself has got redefined. Attitudinally, as in the case of my nephew. And, physically, technologically and notionally too.
The pandemic has accelerated a shift to remote work and virtual meetings.
Even after the pandemic, many companies will continue some form of work from home.
So for many home is the new office. Additionally, some 30-40 per cent of business travel may be permanently replaced by virtual meetings.
The next set of trends to affect the re-definition of work relate to e-commerce and other digital transactions, from restaurant delivery to telemedicine.
All these activities surged in 2020, and many new users have found electronic channels both convenient and efficient, and plan to continue using them. This will impact jobs.
Then there is automation and Artificial Intelligence, with companies using technology to adapt to the new realities and planning to implement more technologies in the future that will impact work. Another trend, still nascent in India but more pronounced in the West is of people moving out of high-cost city centres to the suburbs and smaller towns.
(To be contd)