The Role Of Technology In The Pandemic

With the arrival of 31st January 2022, we have finally reached the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. It has changed our lives drastically, with self-isolation rules, social distance measures and different restrictions in place, challenging, would definitely be an understatement to all that has been happening around us.

The economic impact has been tough on most sectors. According to Parliament, GDP has dropped by 9.7% in 2020, the steepest decline since consistent records began in 1948. We have been observing a recovery since then but it would still take years for the country to fully recover from this depression. 

Some industries have also suffered a heavy toll, such as aviation, casinos, hospitality etc. We are all hoping that things will become normal soon, but when will we actually see hope amidst this global catastrophe? 

Apart from all the negativity, individuals and organisations from all around the globe have been providing us with optimism, as people are tirelessly searching for ways to combat this common enemy. We do not have to be scientists or politicians to help the community, people from different professions and with different expertise have all been supporting one another.  

England’s plan B measures have lifted some of the previous restrictions, including not being compulsory to wear a face mask indoors, the guidance to work from home has ended and covid passes are no longer mandatory for entry to nightclubs and other large venues. However, it is still a legal requirement for people to follow self-isolation rules if you have tested positive for coronavirus. 

While infection levels are falling, it is still at an alarming high rate compared to the cases from last winter and hospital admissions are just starting to come down. The question remains, whether or not this plan B is coming too soon? 

We know that restrictions can never persist for a long period of time, since this would eventually put more pressure on our economy and also damage our personal health and wellbeing at the same time. 

Businesses should assess the situation of their workplace and evaluate if it is safe for employees to return to work, rather than risking another spread of COVID-19. Employees should also be aware of their own safety, and take precautionary measures if they feel that they are being exposed to a dangerous environment. 

The pandemic has significantly changed how our workplace is, with remote working and virtual meetings becoming a trend and might stay. It has also propelled the adoption of AI and other automation technology. People may also have to face the problem of occupational transitions as jobs are being substituted. By 2030, the labour market and workplace will become a whole different face.

The inconvenience of not being able to leave your house, visit your friends, or just to go to the supermarket for groceries shopping, this has been the case for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of regulations and rules have disrupted our daily lives, from working in office to our regular social engagements. We have been living in strange times for the past two years.

These disruptions however, have brought about a lot of new trends, and at the center of that, is the utilisation and advancement of our modern technology.  

These technologies have aided us during this difficult situation and have actually benefited us and made our lives easier at times. When you have to work from home, you could easily pop into Zoom or Microsoft teams and continue with your meetings and responsibilities; when you are isolating at home, you could simply order groceries with an app; even when you are going for a night out, apps could easily track and trace whether if you had came into contact with infectious individuals.

A survey by McKinsey has identified some key findings regarding how the pandemic has transformed businesses with their use of technology.

  • An increase in digital customer interaction

The pandemic has successfully accelerated the digitisation of customer interactions by several years across different regions. Businesses have refocused on engaging with customers via digital channels, leading to companies creating products and services that revolve around the use of digital offerings. 

  • Change in customer needs or expectations 

Customer expectations have changed drastically, people desire quick and convenient responses from businesses, as technology has helped achieve cost-effective and efficient online interactions with consumers. 

  • Increase in remote working or collaboration 

With COVID-19, a new phenomenon has emerged from numerous workplaces, and that is the case of remote working. This may become a norm or regular practice even after the pandemic has ended. Working remotely has allowed for more flexibility and mitigates the trouble of commuting, as everything is starting to digitalise, there may be a place for this practice to stay.

The adaptation of technology is essential for any individual or organisation at this day and age. The future would only progress into further digitalisation, and might even dominate the change in political, social and economic aspects.       

But where will technology take the future of work? There are speculations that routine and cognitive tasks would be accomplished by automation and AI. The development of robots, androids and bionics would also impact our workplace heavily. There is no limit to where imagination and aspirations could take us, where only time could tell.  

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