It is no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has sent a global shock-waves, turning people’s lives upside-down in terms of how they live and work. It has made 2020 a turning point for how people operate, delivering a packaged of unprecedented challenges and an alarming level of uncertainty.. Because of the pandemic, people have had no choice but to rapidly adapt to a new lifestyle in order to catch up with the changes left by the new norm. For instance, the way we shop or make purchases has changed completely compared to what we used to do before the pandemic.
towards a new way of life: this time we are transitioning from physical to digital.
Besides, no one would have imagined that there would ever be the kind of working arrangement embraced to manage the pandemic. Most businesses have implemented telecommuting standards to enable their employees to work remotely, whether in their homes or any other places they can work from and be safe. But it’s not only work that has changed, it is also the way we trade (buying & selling) and the way we socialize. These are human needs expressed in different ways, towards a new way of life: this time we are transitioning from physical to digital.
What could be next? Where does it start?
From land to factory to office to remotely
A major lesson that history has taught us is that we have continually changed economically, politically, and socially. Regardless of the causes of this evolution, whether pandemics or climate change or conflicts, it has lead to a significant impact on the way people interact as individuals and as masses. Changes have been felt across all sectors, from early morning activities at firms to daily work, commuting, sailing in the sea, and trading goods. Any change is always incredibly challenging at first. The pandemic has occasioned difficult and challenging times to be experienced across the world as we enter a new era before we approach the reset.
The current working conditions perhaps are not as terrible as those experienced during the medieval period. At that time, people did not have any support. There were no human resource structures to protect the rights of individuals. Nevertheless, people needed to work and feed their families in inhuman environments and conditions. Previously, the daily work concept took the form of “work”. This involved working from sunrise to sunset. This ranged from blacksmith, building, hard labour in farming, and at the same time, farming crops to feed the family. The latter depended on the size of the farm that one would grow their own food.
But the working concept has changed considerably to working for eight hours a day. This work arrangement dates back to the first industrial revolution. This approach to work is outdated too, mainly because its evolution was not founded on collaboration and creativity.
Rather, it focused on the number of hours. The result is that much time and energy are wasted. COVID-19, however, imposed a new norm, taking the shape of remote working (e.g. from home or any destination) which means that location no longer matters. Offices and buildings that no too long ago represented an essential space for work, are now empty. Traditional working from the office has been successfully and effectively ousted and replaced with a virtual workspaces, making this transition one of the most revolutionary in the history of mankind.
Today’s workplaces dilemma
It has always been the workplace culture that shaped most employees, the structure, the managers the hierarchy. The office was always the space to exercise power by the so-called managers, but it lacked other essential aspects, like collaborations, engagement, communications and mostly trust. A lot of people tend to bring their negative energy to their workplace, creating an extremely uncomfortable environment for others. But how can we shift this to new way of work, a new lifestyle as well?
With telecommuting, this problem can be a thing of the past. If employees work from home or remotely from anywhere in the world, the time wasted on the morning commute will be utilized smartly & productively. In today’s new norm (i.e. WFH), these problems will be solved completely. Employees do not have to report to the office to perform their duties. Rather, they work from the convenience of their home, have a flexible working schedule, and remain connected globally (thanks to the cloud services). Companies now use teleworking to boost their collaboration, engagement, and productivity. Working from home increases employee satisfaction, and that makes them productive in their work. Today, there is no need to commute or rush to the office. Besides, workers are relieved from burning more carbon emissions via cars and planes. This way we will path a new wave of globalization this time creating virtual globalization interconnected space, changing lifestyle how we socialize, how we work and how we trade.
Therefore, there is a need to think about the work concept in totality. Jobs in this era of digitization, uncertainty, and disruption should be redefined. It is crucial to question whether we are ready and prepared for the next waves of change.
The Old trade concepts
If you need something today, you just head to the nearest grocery or supermarket and acquire it and then head home. But how did the trade concept look like thousands of years ago? Well, the process was not as simple and straightforward as it is today. If something was not grown in your hometown, or you did not make or heard of it, you had to find ways to consume what was available. Alternatively, you had to travel long distances to get what you needed.
This made travel to cities and towns very important. Trade opened routes to connect towns and cities. Regions traded with others in order to exchange goods they had for those they didn’t have.
Since ancient times - from Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire, Persia, and other dynasties – the trade concept evolved gradually because of the difficulties in the transportation of goods in those days. Old ships and camel convoys were used to transport goods. These took a lot of time to move goods from one region to the other. The movement was time-consuming, taking weeks or even months. Longer routes were often chosen to ensure the safety of travellers and that of the goods they carried.
This took place until the first industrial revolution when time and speed became very vital in driving major economic changes. Besides, they shaped trade towards the second wave of globalization. The introduction of big supermarkets, free trades, and malls were instrumental in revolutionizing trade and making goods available. If the first wave of globalization was driven by colonialism “physical human direct contact”, the second wave was enabled by machines “it’s the humans direct contact with machines”. Now we are under a third wave of globalization driven by internet that combines the physical + machine and virtual interaction with humans.
Now the question is where are we heading this time, how does the next wave of globalization look like and what enables it?
Modern trade, the next upgrade
Following the first and second globalization, there have been massive changes to how humans interact and operate. The second industrial revolution brought electrification, while the third marked the invention of transistors.
This enhanced processor speed and the development of computers. It was during that era when the internet was invented. Computers were interconnected to transmit messages and information. Compared to today, there is a massive network of computers, including other devices. Following changes in online trading globalization, the e-commerce concept was developed. Digital trading platforms permitted goods and products to be searched and bought online only a few clicks away.
E-commerce of today has changed significantly since 1960, when the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) was invented to share documents electronically. Ever since, e-commerce has grown exponentially, changing the dynamics businesses. This was marked when physical stores were abandoned (either in part or in full) and digital spaces were adopted instead.
Digitalization disruptions signal the need to have a huge mindset and economic shifts. This digital era necessitates a new society and economy.
The shopping experience has transformed from physical stores to online clicks where customers interact with AI algorithms. Online stores such as Shopify, Amazon, and Alibaba signal an important transformation. Today, we send money and pay bills through online banking, which is accomplished using simple clicks. With these online capabilities, people don’t have to commute or visit stores physically. You interact with AI algorithms virtually and satisfy your needs.
However, the shift from physical to digital functionalities in this digitization era has dramatically disrupted the end of 2020 approaches. Yet, the second wave of the pandemic is being felt across the world. COVID-19 continues to shut down shops, commercial offices, and physical stores. Digitalization disruptions signal the need to have a huge mindset and economic shifts. This digital era necessitates a new society and economy.
Beyond physical towards digital
According to the Deloitte insight report, social and technological forces are changing how work is performed. Concerning the evolution of work, the new gig economy, and communication and digital tools transform the way work is done, including the concept of working hours. Eventually, the workforce is expected to redefine and change. Amidst these social and technological forces, businesses need to rethink their approach to the what, who, and how of work.
While there are no simple or immediate answers, solutions can be obtained through adoption and productivity. As the hierarchy structure is slowly disappearing with digital disruptions, the virtual world is getting more powerful with massive collaborative capabilities.
Businesses and companies are shifting from working by hours to working by tasks using digital trading platforms. There is also a shift towards assigning tasks instead of wasting working hours in offices. In 2020, Covid-19 has led to an unmistakable shift in the business world, especially in relation to how people work using social enterprise messaging, teleconferencing, project planning, cloud document sharing, and more. This shows what the twenty-first century has brought to us. Physical workspaces have been replaced with virtual spaces like Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Hangout. The majority of employers and employees across the world have accepted this as the new reality.
Jobs are shifting from physical requirements to soft skills such as managing, writing, coding, and designing. Who knows some day an end to physical labour might be witnessed when additives manufacturing (AM) replaces many workers in workshops, factories, and certain retailers. If additives manufacturing and automation reduce workers in companies and factories, people need to begin thinking about the kind of jobs they should prepare to perform.
There is, however, no need to worry about the shifts that are taking place. There is still time to begin learning the things that digital platforms are offering. Using a few clicks, one can earn passive income by viewing, writing, or reading content such as videos, images, and articles from various bloggers and authors. Making money online is gaining popularity, and platforms that offer online opportunities will continue to gain much attention in the coming years. Besides, some people are capitalizing on earning from cryptocurrencies. Such crypto earning blogging platforms are Publish0x (https://www.publish0x.com/), Steemit (https://steemit.com/), Hive (https://hive.blog/).
What if Universal Basic Income (UBI) introduced in form of digital currency as part of a new social contract, can we redefine job and create new digital economy?
4th wave of changes
As we step into a new year 2021 leaving behind some unprecedented moments of our time. We will always prepare for more unprecedented events that will continue to shake the whole system we are leaving behind. As many businesses shutter their physical premises and move their operations online, remote work and remote learning eventually will replace the conventional form. Shifting from physical value to digital value will not stop there it will continue transforming the social psychology, the human form of interaction. How about governments, states, diplomacy reforming itself digitally as we witness social media platforms utilized by policy makers as virtual space becomes landmark for election campaigns, outreach to popular, and political dialogues. within this space Twiplomacy was born. If Facebook tomorrow launches its Diem digital currency this social media platform will become almost twice the size of china’s economy threatening national economies scraping the old obsolete economy In-front of big data, the new vital commodity. These digital platforms and tools will create new path to a new globalization.
This new age is at your fingertips with few clicks will determine the next human evolution. The next evolution to emerge is how to get there, is it through protection or disruption or revolution?
Some has claimed that today’s globalization is dead. We are only witnessing the reform of globalization, as the whole world is now restructuring itself through localization focusing on defining local boundaries, social structure, and capabilities.
The next wave of globalization the 4th wave, a digital form of globalization an ecosystem enhanced with 4th industrial revolution. Will make us connect, interact and act digitally remotely from anywhere any time. This new age is at your fingertips with few clicks will determine the next human evolution. The next evolution to emerge is how to get there, is it through protection or disruption or revolution?
P.S. this article was published before on Linkedin on 01st of January 2021.