Four-Day Work Week: A Bane or a Boon?

An idea that’s been around for a while, but has gained traction in the last few years, the four-day workweek is an arrangement where a workplace or place of education has its employees or students work or attend school, college, or university over four days per week rather than the more customary five. This arrangement can be a part of flexible working hours and is sometimes used to cut costs. Typically, employees work longer hours during those four days to compensate for the lost day.

The idea behind the four-day workweek is to provide employees with more time for personal pursuits, such as family, hobbies, or other interests, while still completing the same amount of work. It is believed that a shorter workweek can increase productivity, reduce stress, and improve work-life balance.

The five-day workweek is a cultural norm; the result of early 1900s union advocacy to reduce the six-day workweek, which led to the invention of the weekend. In the early 20th century, when the average work week in developed nations was reduced from around 60 to 40 hours, it was expected that further decreases would occur over time. In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes estimated that technological change and productivity improvements would make a 15-hour work week possible within a couple of generations. Other In 1956, then US Vice President Richard Nixon promised Americans they would only have to work four days in the not-too-distant future.

While the idea of a four-day workweek has been around for many years, it has gained more attention in recent years as some companies and governments have experimented with it as a way to increase employee well-being and productivity. Some companies have reported positive results, such as reduced absenteeism, improved employee morale, and even increased profits. However, it is important to note that the implementation and success of a four-day workweek can vary depending on the company, industry, and specific circumstances.

Most advocates for a four-day working week argue for a fixed work schedule, resulting in shorter weeks like four 8-hour workdays for a total of 32 hours. This follows the 100-80-100 model: 100% pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintaining at least 100% productivity. However, some companies have introduced a four-day week based on a compressed work schedule: in the so-called 4/10 work week, the widely-used 40 weekly work hours are distributed across four days instead of five, resulting in 10-hour-long workdays, hence four-ten.

The resulting schedule may look different depending on the way the four-day week is implemented: in some variants Friday becomes the permanent non-working day, giving employees three consecutive days off over the weekend; some workplaces split the day off among the staff, with half taking Monday off and the other half taking Friday off; sometimes the day off is added in the middle of the week such as a Wednesday, allowing for a mid-week break; and, in some cases, the day off changes from week to week, depending on the company’s current goals and workload.

The push towards implementing the four-day week has remained loosely relevant within the contemporary workplace due to the various possible benefits it may yield. Although mostly untested, these benefits mainly lie within increased cost-cutting, productivity, and work-life balance. The theory behind this is, employees or students who work or attend school one less day a week will have additional time to pursue hobbies, spend time with family, get more sleep, and increase overall morale. Consequently, these employees or students will be more productive and refreshed for working or learning, which will make up for the lost day when they would otherwise be overworked and/or overtired. In addition, by having the workplace or school open one less day a week, the operating costs and environmental costs will decrease for businesses and society alike.

Where four-day weeks have been instituted so far, workers gain a better work-life balance that enables them to live happier and more fulfilled lives, and employers can recruit and retain high-quality and well-rested workers who deliver greater productivity and creativity. More broadly, a four-day week provides opportunities to rebalance employment, decreasing the number of overworked and unemployed or underemployed people and allows for greater gender equality through a more equal share of paid and unpaid work, too, including the caring roles that disproportionately fall on women, and better health and wellbeing for workers and their loved ones.

The four-day week movement has grown considerably in recent years, with increasing numbers of businesses and organisations around the world trialling and moving permanently to a four-day working week of around 32 hours, with no less pay for workers. Most of these businesses and organisations have found that a four-day week is a win-win for employees and employers, as trials have indicated that it leads to a better work-life balance, lower stress levels, and increased productivity. An overwhelming majority of studies report that a four-day week leads to increased productivity and decreased stress.

Other benefits include improved work-life balance as with an additional day off, employees can use the extra time to pursue personal interests, spend time with family and friends, or simply relax and recharge. This can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Research has shown that shorter workweeks can increase productivity, as employees may feel more motivated and focused during their work hours. Additionally, having longer weekends can provide employees with more time to rest and recharge, leading to better performance during the workweek. A four-day workweek can result in cost savings for both employees and employers. Employees may save money on transportation, meals, and other work-related expenses. For employers, there may be cost savings on utilities, rent, and other overhead expenses. A four-day workweek can help reduce absenteeism and turnover rates, as employees are often more satisfied with their work-life balance and feel more valued by their employer. Providing employees with a more flexible and balanced work schedule can lead to increased morale and engagement, as employees feel that their employer cares about their well-being and work-life balance. Evidence shows that cutting working hours isn’t only good for people: it’s good for the planet. It lowers energy use, meaning less pollution and an opportunity for us to live more sustainably and tackle the climate crisis. A four-day workweek can lead to a more satisfied, productive, and engaged workforce, which can ultimately benefit both employees and employers. An increase in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in the desire for flexible work arrangements.

While a four-day workweek can have many benefits, there are also potential disadvantages to consider. Some of the possible drawbacks include longer workdays because to accommodate a four-day workweek, employees may have to work longer hours during those four days. This can lead to fatigue, burnout, and reduced productivity, especially if the work is physically or mentally demanding. Implementing a four-day workweek may reduce the number of days that employees are available to clients, customers, or colleagues. This can lead to delays in communication or project completion, which could be frustrating for stakeholders. With employees working different schedules, it can be more challenging to coordinate meetings, training sessions, or other group activities. This can lead to decreased collaboration and teamwork, which could impact productivity and morale. If employees are working fewer hours, they may receive reduced pay or benefits. This could be a disadvantage for employees who rely on a full-time salary to meet their financial needs. For some businesses, a four-day workweek may result in a loss of income, especially if they are not able to maintain the same level of productivity or customer service during the shorter workweek.

The first large-scale study of a four-day workweek ended recently and not one of the 33 participating companies is returning to a standard five-day schedule. Data released showed that the organisations involved registered gains in revenue and employee productivity, as well as drops in absenteeism and turnover. Workers on a four-day schedule were also more inclined to work from the office than home. The study is the first from a series of pilots coordinated by the New Zealand-based non-profit advocacy group 4 Day Week Global and involving dozens of companies in ongoing six-month pilots. A US and Canadian trial began in October, and a pilot of mostly European and South African organisations begins in February. With each iteration, researchers will adjust their data collection, including long-term tracking of how organisations fare with lighter schedules.

Dozens of indicators, ranging from productivity to well-being and fatigue, all improved as the companies transitioned. One weakness of the study is that all of the participating organisations opted in, meaning leadership was already biased toward four-day weeks. But employees, who did not necessarily opt-in, were won over. Ninety-seven per cent wanted to continue with four-day schedules, with workers reporting less work stress, burnout, anxiety, and fatigue, along with fewer sleep problems. Exercise also increased by 24 minutes a week, putting workers in line with World Health Organisation-recommended exercise targets. Employees also reported fewer conflicts between work and family, and fewer instances of coming home from work too tired to do necessary household tasks. Notably, the extra time off was not used for secondary employment, but for hobbies, housework, and self-care instead.

The four-day workweek is a big step today, especially when the majority of work can be done anywhere. What do you think, is this something you would be willing to do while working full-time? Please let me know in the comments.

Multitasking: Is that even possible?

Multitasking refers to the ability of a person or a computer to perform multiple tasks or processes simultaneously. In the context of human behaviour, multitasking typically refers to the practice of doing several things at once, such as working on a computer while talking on the phone or watching television. In the context of computing, multitasking refers to the capability of an operating system to run multiple programs or processes at the same time and switch between them, providing the illusion that they are all running simultaneously.

While multitasking can increase efficiency and productivity in some situations, it can also lead to decreased productivity and cognitive overload when trying to perform too many tasks simultaneously, as it can be difficult to give each task the attention it deserves.

Today, multitasking is common because of the fast-paced world we live in as people try to balance multiple tasks and responsibilities at once. While multitasking can have some benefits, it also has several drawbacks that need to be considered. Below are some of the pros and cons of multitasking which can help determine whether it is the right approach.

Multitasking can be good in certain situations where the tasks being performed are relatively simple, require little cognitive effort, and can be performed simultaneously without interfering with each other. Like listening to music while exercising or working on a simple task, as the music provides background stimulation that can help boost motivation and energy levels. Or even cooking and cleaning at the same time, as they are both physical tasks that can be performed simultaneously without much cognitive effort.

It’s important to note that multitasking should be approached with caution, as it can also be detrimental to performance and productivity when tasks are too complex or demand too much attention. In such situations, it’s better to focus on one task at a time and give it the full attention, to avoid mistakes and increase efficiency.

There are several benefits to multitasking, including:

Increased efficiency and productivity: When done effectively, multitasking can help increase overall productivity by allowing one to tackle multiple tasks at once. By performing multiple tasks simultaneously, one can save time and increase overall productivity. This can be especially useful for individuals who are juggling multiple projects or responsibilities.

Improved time management: Multitasking allows one to complete multiple tasks in a shorter period, prioritise tasks and manage time more effectively, enabling one to complete more tasks in a given amount of time. By switching between tasks, one can keep their brain active and focused, allowing them to get more done in less time.

Better decision-making: Multitasking can also help people to make better decisions by allowing them to consider multiple options and viewpoints at once. When one is constantly shifting their focus between tasks, they are forced to weigh the pros and cons of each option, leading to more informed and well-rounded decisions.

Better utilisation of downtime: Multitasking can help one to make better use of downtime that may occur during the day, such as waiting in line or commuting.

Reduced boredom: Multitasking can help keep one engaged and reduce boredom, especially when performing monotonous tasks.

Improved mental stimulation: Multitasking can provide mental stimulation and help keep one alert and focused, especially when switching between tasks that require different skills and abilities.

Multitasking has several drawbacks, including:

Decreased focus and attention: When multitasking, it can be difficult to give each task the attention it deserves, leading to decreased focus and attention, and an increased likelihood of making mistakes. Multitasking can also decrease the overall focus and attention, as one is constantly shifting their attention from one task to another. This can make it difficult to concentrate on any one task for an extended period, leading to decreased efficiency and effectiveness.

Decreased quality: While multitasking may help one to complete more tasks in a shorter period, it can also result in a decrease in the quality of their work. When one is constantly switching between tasks, it can be difficult to give each task the attention and focus it deserves, leading to mistakes and subpar results.

Increased stress and anxiety: Multitasking can also be stressful, as it requires one to constantly be on the go and make quick decisions. This can lead to burnout and decreased mental health, as the brain becomes overwhelmed by the constant demands of multitasking. Multitasking can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, especially when tasks pile up and become overwhelming.

Decreased creativity: Multitasking can also stifle creativity, as it requires one to constantly be in a state of “doing” rather than allowing one to take the time to reflect and think. When one is constantly multitasking, one may be missing out on opportunities for creative problem-solving and innovation because it requires one to divide their attention and switch between tasks frequently.

Decreased overall productivity: Despite the perception that multitasking saves time, research has shown that it can decrease overall productivity, as switching between tasks takes time and energy, and can lead to decreased focus and attention.

Impairment of memory: Multitasking can lead to an impairment of short-term memory, as information may not be encoded or retained as effectively when divided attention is required.

It’s worth noting that while multitasking can have these benefits, it can also lead to decreased productivity and cognitive overload when tasks are too complex or demand too much attention. It’s important to approach multitasking with caution and to be mindful of your limitations to maximize its benefits. A rule of thumb should be that multitasking should be approached with caution, and it’s important to be mindful of limitations and to prioritise tasks to ensure that one is focusing on the most important and time-sensitive tasks first.

In conclusion, multitasking can be a useful tool for managing time and increasing productivity, but it also has its drawbacks. By weighing the pros and cons of multitasking, one can determine whether it is the right approach to take. If one finds that multitasking is causing stress or decreasing the quality of work, it may be time to reassess the approach and find a more balanced and sustainable way of working.

Are you a Fox or a Hedgehog?

The ancient Greek poet Archilochus wrote a now-lost parable with the following moral: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The general gist of the line is this: Some people see the details in everything they do, like the fox, while others are great at having one singular vision, like the hedgehog. This animal-centric adage is at the heart of a lesson in “On Grand Strategy,” an instruction manual for would-be leaders based on popular seminars by Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis. Taking a cue from a 1953 essay by British-American philosopher Isaiah Berlin, Gaddis discusses how great leaders and thinkers can be categorized as either hedgehogs or foxes. Berlin went so far as to say that this split is “one of the deepest differences [that] divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general.”


Typically, a generalist is someone who has a broad range of knowledge and skills across multiple fields, while a specialist is someone who has deep knowledge and expertise in a specific field or area. Generalists tend to have a wider range of job opportunities and can adapt to new situations and changing circumstances more easily than specialists. They also tend to have a better understanding of how different fields and disciplines are interconnected and can often see connections and opportunities that specialists might miss. Specialists, on the other hand, tend to have a more in-depth understanding of their field of expertise and can contribute more to projects and teams that require specialized knowledge and skills. They also tend to be more sought after and command higher salaries in their field of expertise. Generalists can understand and see connections between different subjects, while specialists can focus on and solve complex problems within their area of expertise. Generalists are often more adaptable and can work on a wider range of tasks, while specialists have a deeper understanding of their field and can contribute significantly to its advancement.

While a specialist systematically hones skills related to their domain, a generalist seeks to sharpen a wide range of related skills that will prove useful in multiple domains. The proliferation of startups and small businesses has surged the demand for generalists who come with a vast spectrum of knowledge and experience. However, when the requirement is for deep technical knowledge in critical fields, the skills of a specialist are much more marketable. When a company is looking at upscaling operations within its domain, the specialist is more progressive when it comes to creative ideas. Generalists are progressive when it comes to accepting a varied number of clients with different needs and expectations. Owing to their interpersonal skills and a broad-based learning curve, generalists can handle uncertainties efficiently. In terms of transferability, generalists fare better than specialists as their wide range of specialities is easily transferable to different domains. Specialists aren’t able to transfer their domain-related expertise to another field or even to another discipline within the same domain.

Both generalists and specialists have their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the particular situation and the needs of the employer or organization. It’s also worth mentioning that, while some people may naturally lean towards being a generalist or a specialist, it is also possible to develop skills in both areas through continuous learning and development.

Specialists have expertise in their area of specialisation because they are focused on one domain, which attracts high-paying clients since subject-specific expertise gaps are more difficult to fill. The ability to undertake extensive targeted research and a quality understanding of the domain earn specialists attractive remuneration. Specialists are also more equipped to handle any new technological complexity in the field as they dedicate years to exploring the different facets of the domain. On the other hand, because they are focused on one area of expertise, the lack of diversity within the job profile hinders growth. A specialized portfolio has limited scope for independent expansion. With rapid technological advancements, specialists risk falling behind if they don’t update their skill sets frequently. Specialists usually perform within a narrower domain than generalists. As they dive deeper into their domain, the relevant working fields surrounding them gradually shrink.

Generalists cover several domains and envision the bigger picture as they combine multiple perspectives from different departments. A direct result of being open to a lot of unique challenges is acquiring strong critical thinking skills and this enables generalists to offer actionable insights into their areas of expertise. Their ability to explore various domains and a high multitasking quotient make generalists excel in leadership roles. A large number of skills arm generalists with the capacity to diversify their services which helps them swap career paths easily and give their clients a lot of alternatives to work with. But a lack of specific expertise in any domain puts them on a back foot as they aren’t that competent in niche projects. A high percentage of generalists work across multiple teams and tackle a host of responsibilities, especially if they are in leadership roles. This often leads to psychological burnout. Generalists are also easier to replace owing to their overlapping or vaguely defined work responsibilities and so these positions are prone to lower pay scales as compared to a specialist.

Whether it is better to be a generalist or a specialist depends on the individual’s goals, interests, and circumstances. For some careers, such as medicine or law, specialisation is required to achieve a high level of expertise and be successful in the field. In other fields, a generalist approach can be beneficial, as it allows individuals to have a wider range of skills and knowledge, making them more versatile and adaptable in the face of changing circumstances. In many cases, a combination of both generalist and specialist skills can be advantageous, allowing individuals to understand the broader context of their area of expertise and effectively communicate and apply their knowledge. Ultimately, the choice between being a generalist or a specialist is a personal one and should be based on individual strengths, interests, and career goals.

Some of the questions one needs to ask themselves are if one seeks a diverse breadth of knowledge or if one prefers deep research on any specific topic. Do they change their career perspective often and prefer taking time to find the niche they are interested in? Or have they already determined their career trajectory? One also needs to work out what kind of work ignites their interests and passions and if it requires them to hone different skills or demands specific subject-matter expertise. The ideal workforce of today is a carefully balanced group of specialised generalists who recognise their varied strengths but rely on others’ domain-specific expertise, and generalised specialists who are people with core competencies who also delve into other related areas.

So would you rather be a fox or a hedgehog? I am going to ask BB and GG this question after making them read this article.

Quiet Quitting: Good or Bad?

In 2022, we all heard millennials speak of quiet quitting. So what exactly is this phenomenon sweeping the world? A phenomenon that spread on TikTok, quiet quitting refers to doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than is necessary. As such, it is something of a misnomer, since the worker doesn’t leave their position and continues to collect a salary. In some places, soft quitting is used interchangeably with quiet quitting.

A 2022 Gallup survey suggested that at least half of the U.S. workforce, particularly those under 35, where this percentage is higher consists of quiet quitters, but these numbers are questioned and even if quiet quitting is a new trend or simply a trendy new name for worker dissatisfaction. In September 2022, a Harvard Business Review article observed that quiet quitters continue to fulfil their primary responsibilities, but they’re less willing to engage in activities known as citizenship behaviours like not staying late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings.

Beyond the workplace, the term quiet quitting is now being applied to nonwork aspects of people’s lives, such as marriages and relationships. The hashtag #QuietQuitting has now racked up more than 17 million views on TikTok and articles in print and online media worldwide have used the term and the noise has spread to Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites.

Adult Gen Zers are big influencers on social media and about 60% say they post content they hope will change the world, according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer. Those aged 18-26 are the most worried about security, health, finances, social connections and keeping up with change, the Edelman survey of 36,000 people found. But workforce studies on the changing world of work support the rise of quiet quitting – and suggest it’s more than just a social media hashtag.

Quiet quitting is a way of dealing with burnout according to organisational behaviour experts. Burnout is a big risk in the workplace, especially amongst younger Gen Z professionals aged in their 20s, research shows. A survey of 30,000 workers by Microsoft showed 54% of Gen Z workers are considering quitting their job. In its 2021 Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum ranks youth disillusionment as eighth of 10 immediate risks. Findings include deteriorating mental health since the start of the pandemic, leaving 80% of young people worldwide vulnerable to depression, anxiety and disappointment.

COVID-19 has changed the world of work – and how seriously we take it. Twenty-something Gen Z workers, in particular, may have joined the world of work during the pandemic with all of its dislocating effects – especially remote working. This generation has also come of age amidst rising activism. More people are quitting 9 to 5 jobs to start their businesses or try non-traditional work like temporary work, gig or part-time roles. It also shows some are quitting to take a break or care for family, as remote working has removed boundaries for working or living overseas. Gen Z workers aged 18-24 years most value flexibility and meaningful work, while Millennials and Gen Xers aged between about 25 and 45 years are largely the ones trying self-employment and new types of work. Experts say the passion economy where people do more of what they love has heralded a new era of side hustles, in everything from craft to campaigning.

Does quiet quitting just affect young people? Workforce data from major organizations including McKinsey & Company suggests 40% of the global workforce is looking to quit their jobs in the next three to six months. The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, so it’s no surprise that job satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, can significantly affect your life according to McKinsey. The 2022 State of the Global Workplace report from Gallup shows only 21% of employees are engaged at work. Living for the weekend, watching the clock tick and work is just a paycheck are the mantras of most global workers, according to Gallup. People are realising that work is not life and that one’s worth as a person is not defined by their job.

The reaction of managers to the phenomenon has been mixed. Some have been tolerant, in part because the tight labour market of recent years makes replacing quiet quitters difficult, at least for the time being. Others have responded to quiet quitting by quietly, or loudly, firing employees whom they see as slacking off. Quiet firing has become a buzz phrase in its own right, generally defined as making a job so unrewarding that the employee will feel compelled to resign.

Some experts have suggested that bosses should get tough on quiet quitting while others say they need to lighten up. Some experts advise managers to first examine their behaviour and check if this trend is a reflection of their leadership abilities rather than the person quiet quitting.

Quiet quitting may or may not be a bona fide trend or recent phenomenon. But it has called attention to what appears to be fairly widespread dissatisfaction that employers might need to address. Quiet quitting is not a life philosophy or policy proposal that needs logical scrutiny. It’s also not a political weapon to be wielded to prove how much more woke or conservative one is than everyone else. It’s both more incoherent and essential than all of that. Figuring out how work fits into a life well lived is hard, but it’s an evolution that has to happen. Quiet quitting is the messy starting gun of a new generation embarking on this challenge.

So what are your views on quiet quitting? I know it’s been around and many of us are also guilty of quiet quitting at some point or the other.

The Future of Work in a post-COVID World

When COVID hit in early 2020, the world was in shock, especially with the lockdowns and cities shut down. Workplaces became empty and many city centres which were dominated by towering skyscrapers filled with office spaces became ghost towns. COVID has dramatically changed the way we live and work and affected virtually every element of life.

COVID has been the most significant, and perhaps the most traumatic, experience of our lives. It will have a huge impact on us as individuals, as a society and as a workforce. And even when this crisis ends, things will never be back to normal. We will live in a completely different world and that will be the new normal.

The abrupt closure of many offices and workplaces ushered in a new era of remote work for millions and has shown a significant shift in the way a large segment of the workforce operates in the future. Most of those who say their work responsibilities can mainly be done from home say that, before the pandemic, they rarely or never teleworked. Very few could work from home all or most of the time, but today more than half of such people are doing their job from home all or most of the time. And more than half say, given a choice, they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic.

While not seamless, the transition to working from home has been relatively easy for many with most of them saying it has been easy to instal the technology and get hold of the equipment to do the job. Most also say it’s been easy for them to meet deadlines and complete projects on time, get their work done without interruptions and feel motivated to do their work.

Many of us, especially those of us who are technologically challenged, had to adjust to new technologies and learn new ways of interacting with colleagues and friends. Zoom and other video conferencing apps became part of our lexicon and we learnt to find those corners at home which would not reveal the mess behind.

The idea of working at home in itself is not a new concept with many, especially those in the IT sector working from home is an old concept. I read somewhere that working from home or telecommuting has grown by as much as 173% since 2005 due to improvements in technology, innovation and communication. As a result, more than half of employees have a job where at least some of what they do can be done from home.  A 2019 Owl Labs report found that as many as 80% of employees wanted to work from home at least some of the time, before the crisis. Flexibility is one of the top-ranked work benefits amongst the millennial workforce and pre-crisis, more than a third of employees would go so far as to change jobs if they had the chance to work from home, whilst over a third would take a pay cut of up to 5% to work at home some of the time. Today, these figures will most likely have gone up.

Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, albeit less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak. Many companies have transitioned to hybrid work culture and many organisations have decided to reduce their office space. As a result of this demand for restaurants and retail in downtown areas and areas with a concentration of office spaces as well as for public transportation may decline as a result. And while working on this post, I decided to check on job sites and saw that now there are many full-time remote opportunities in sectors that traditionally did not offer it like IT. This means that in countries with smaller cities and rural areas, when people can work anywhere, reverse migration can and is taking place. I have heard of people moving out of the big Indian cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru and going back to their hometowns so they can be with family and yet earn the income they were already earning. I remember reading an article about professionals renting large apartments in places like the seaside and the hills and with access to high-speed internet, they were able to have a much better lifestyle and standard of living.

Remote work has also put a dent in business travel as its extensive use of videoconferencing during the pandemic has ushered in a new acceptance of virtual meetings and other aspects of work. While leisure travel and tourism are rebounding, and are likely to rebound after the crisis, McKinsey’s travel practice estimates that about 20% of business travel, the most lucrative segment for airlines, may not return. This would have significant knock-on effects on employment in commercial aerospace, airports, hospitality, and food service. E-commerce and other virtual transactions are booming.

Many consumers discovered the convenience of e-commerce and other online activities during the pandemic. In 2020, the share of e-commerce grew at two to five times the rate before COVID-19. Roughly three-quarters of people using digital channels for the first time during the pandemic say they will continue using them when things return to normal, according to McKinsey Consumer Pulse surveys conducted around the world. Other kinds of virtual transactions such as telemedicine, online banking, and streaming entertainment have also taken off including online doctor consultations. This shift to digital transactions has propelled growth in delivery, transportation, and warehouse jobs. In China, e-commerce, delivery, and social media jobs grew by more than 5.1 million during the first half of 2020.

Many companies deployed automation and AI to reduce workplace density and cope with surges in demand. Research finds the work arenas with high levels of human interaction are likely to see the greatest acceleration in the adoption of automation and AI. Hiring has also changed. Today, the default way of interviewing potential candidates is by video call when only a few months ago the default was face-to-face interviewing.

So what does this mean moving forward? It means that for employees, the chance to balance work and home will be important. Now that the world has shown that regular remote and flexible work can be productive without disrupting or undermining established ways of working, it will be the new normal going forward. A lot of people, especially introverts who do not need to showcase their gregariousness and be extroverts, can showcase their productivity and prove their mettle. There are already reports of the positive impact that more frequent, structured and focused communication is resulting in increased collaboration, teamwork and support. Now that more people have had a taste of it and proven their productivity, it will be hard for companies to take it away from their talent. A Gallup survey revealed that 54% of U.S. workers would leave their current job for one that allowed them to work remotely. And while professionals were celebrating their 30-second commute, it became clear to companies that the huge line item on their spreadsheets for real estate may not be the best way to spend their money. Having people work from home, even if it’s not everyone all the time, is proving to be profitable.

Flexibility will be the new mantra—where people will be given more freedom to choose to work from home. Some people missed the commute and cherished their in-person connections, so the new normal will be increased flexibility. Conference rooms, meeting spaces and video studios will take up a lot of office space with the workplace becoming a far more social environment, not a lock myself in the office scenario. It will be designed to foster and promote interaction and community engagement, taking advantage of the times talent is collocated in one place.

Many professionals found working from home a challenge not because of isolation, but because they didn’t have the ideal space or a dedicated home office. They didn’t have a Zoom-ready spot for video meetings. A study reports that the majority of survey respondents cited a lack of proper technology for remote work that hindered their success and productivity. One of the biggest challenges people experienced while working fom home was internet performance. According to a survery by WhistleOut, a company that provides information about mobile phone and internet services, 35% of adults who transitioned to working from home said that weak Internet has prevented them from doing their work at some point during the coronavirus crisis and 43% said they have had to use their phone as a hotspot during the crisis. Internet in homes will improve, and home offices and even home video studios will become a priority. As new homes are built or existing ones are remodelled, a home office will be the top priority for

Post COVID-19, e-learning will become a bigger part of ongoing learning. In-person learning won’t go away, but it’ll be reserved for certain functions and certain populations within the company. Face-to-face learning will likely be just a small element of a learning curriculum. Ramping up their e-learning platforms, companies moved quickly to ensure that their people were still building important skills and developing professionally.

Video is at the heart of many of the changes above. The developers behind Zoom, WebEx, Hangouts, Skype and other video communications tools made the grand work-from-home experiment possible. The video became fully integrated into the work experience in an astonishing variety of ways. As supervisors and staffers have gotten used to seeing each other in their natural habitats, the line that separates work life and personal life has faded. Ironically, technology has made this transition possible, but it has also led to a decidedly low-tech reality: this new corporate world has made us value our organic, non-robotic humanity more than ever before.

The shift to remote work led to the complete collapse of the work-home boundary, especially for parents juggling child care and homeschooling with job demands. Poorly timed or endless Zoom meetings interfered with people’s ability to get work done and sometimes harmed relationships with colleagues. At the same time, people, especially those with comfortable home offices and few parental responsibilities, found benefits in working remotely. Being on their own gave them greater control with fewer distractions. The absence of commuting gave people more time and energy while saving them money. People who had been working in unpleasant or hostile workplaces were now free from disrespectful encounters.

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp rise in mental health issues. While this is in no way a positive outcome, it has resulted in businesses focusing more closely on employee’s mental wellbeing. Companies are doing more than ever to protect and promote positive mental wellbeing among teams; a trend that will continue even as the world returns to normal. People burn out because their employers have not successfully managed chronic job stressors.

The pandemic has taught many people that the job does not have to be the way it was. This realisation may be one reason that many are not going back to their old jobs. The workplace must change. So as we transition to a new normal of working, it is with the hope that many of these positive work outcomes such as a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing, more freedom and flexibility for employees and outstanding innovations will keep workforces happy and healthy while businesses will remain creative, responsive and successful.