The entire world seems as if it has come to a standstill. An organism invisible to the naked eye has challenged mankind’s way of going about their lives. Not only are we doubtful of being able to go back to the normal that we were used to but we are also uncertain of perceiving a new kind of normal that we might need to build for ourselves. The lockdown that lasted for months has already taken its toll on the economy of not only Nepal but also the world. It is only recently that life is slowly coming back to action. Businesses and industries have begun operating again. Despite this fact, the economic crisis still looms upon us as industries all round seek massive recovery from months of shutdown. Like all the sectors, the software industry is not untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the IT industry potentially has had better chances of minimising the adversities of lockdowns given that remote working proved to be a game changer. The tech industry mostly involves a large number of knowledge-based workers who are able to fulfill their job responsibilities provided they can get their hands on a computer with internet connection. The current pandemic situation has force-shifted the work desks of software professionals to their homes. The biggest names in the industry have already started to take this seriously. Facebook has assured its employees that they can work from home for the remainder of this year if they wish to do so. Twitter has also announced indefinite work-from-home policy. The trend continues among many other tech giants as well. A survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders by research and advisory company Gartner, Inc. reveals that nearly 3 in 4 organisations intend to shift at least 5 per cent of their workforce to remote work permanently. Software and IT based organisations in Nepal have also followed the footsteps of the international market. As far as smaller companies in Nepal are concerned, it might not be much of an issue to switch to remote working. It is common knowledge that such companies are mostly set up within a narrow workspace with limited resources and employees. In fact, several startups in Nepal have already been operating in a mode that could be easily deemed close enough to working from home. However, COVID-19 crisis has changed the game for large scale companies too. Leading software companies in the capital generally possess a proper organisational structure with a systematic workflow process and employ anywhere between 100 to 500 people. Although faced with several challenges, they have migrated to work-from-home policy since the beginning of the lockdown. A leading healthcare informatics company, one of pioneers in the software industry of Nepal, is already said to have announced work-from-home policy for its employees for at least 3 months in advance. Technology will occupy a significant portion of our day-to-day lives as we continue to embrace its benefits not only for our social life but also for an altered work-life scenario. Along with popular social media applications such as Facebook and Instagram, video conferencing apps such as Skype, Zoom and Webex should find regular usage in our mobile sets and tablets. The frequency and length of team meetings could change drastically. On the brighter side, the humane experience of seeing our colleagues in their homes, with their family or pets occasionally passing in the background could improve the dull and monotonous experience of working in office setups. This might eventually offer the kind of work-life balance that we all have been long searching for. The flexibility to quickly get your favorite snacks from the fridge anytime or even run some short errands in the middle of the day while that build is still running could totally change the way people look at IT jobs. Yes, of course, things can be difficult for working women in particular to handle the double burden of office work and domestic hustle. Having said that, if they can smartly manage to squeeze minor chores in gaps during the day, it seems a better prospect than arriving home exhausted after a tiresome day of working and commuting from job. The reliance on technology to collaborate with people will slowly turn from necessity into regularity. As more and more employees adopt video conferencing and chat applications for collaboration, they get comfortable with using workplace softwares which might not have been the case for everyone in the office earlier. This will carry over into their daily habits and employees will continue to use these softwares, probably in newer and more effective ways, even after the lockdown. Efficient communication can work wonders in favor of the organisation in terms of saving time and increasing productivity by mitigating unnecessary hassles of having to meet in person every single time. Organisational communication can be centralised and logged in history for future reference, unlike verbal communication. Nothing comes free of cost, of course. If newer ways of workflows can bring about positive changes in professional life, it has its own share of downsides. The perks of remote working could well become a drag of its own on productivity sometimes. This is particularly true in case of employees such as developers, creative designers who are required to work long hours in focused solitude and not well suited to navigating a day full of video conferences and online chats. Our lives have not been the same since the breakout of COVID-19 pandemic. As social distancing and staying at home become the new norms of regular we are getting used to, both our personal and professional lives are going through a significant transformation. So, it is time we start considering how our work life scenario might get reshaped as we gradually adjust into the coronavirus era. What are the changes we can expect? And how to better prepare ourselves for the upcoming challenges we might face? The big question is nobody knows when the world will eventually get rid of the current situation. If even coronavirus magically disappears all of a sudden tomorrow, it is certain that we are going to take a good length of time to emerge from this totally. The sooner we act upon these forced changes brought upon us, the better equipped we can be to build a better tomorrow.
(Kristina Shikhrakar is a software engineer and MBA Graduate.)