Corona will end and become history. It is an inevitability that we hope will happen fast. However, life will not be the same. If we take an aspect of life post-Covid-19, let’s say work, we will find that tens of big businesses utilising hundreds of thousands of employees have extended working remotely to another year or so, without associating their decisions with deadlines for redressing the epidemic, and without denying the possibility that this type of work will be permanent.
It is as though the pandemic has opened our eyes to new opportunities for increased efficiency and viability of remote working. At the very least, someone found out that staff staying at home is not a losing bet. Similarly, there are those who are certain that this new pattern of work is more feasible whether to individuals, corporations or society as a whole. Therefore, big names were competing to seize the opportunity, with Google conveniently announcing that it has extended its staff stay at home to another year, followed by Uber, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, Hitachi, Mastercard, Nationwide Insurance and others.
There is no figure to show the ratio of staff working remotely to staff working from office at this moment, but definitely large numbers of SMEs are following suit, based on discovering that the new type of work may be more efficient and effective, and therefore more useful.
Is there anyone who doubts that working remotely has now and indefinitely become well-established in future human activity?
Well, since we are talking about the future, we should bear in mind that distance workers in the future are distance learners today. Thus, we can say that one role of schools is to prepare a generation capable of efficiently handling technologies that enable them to work and innovate independently of the constraints of place and geography.
This was the mission of the Smart Learning Programme our wise leadership launched eight years prior to Covid, which was a factor of our success in aptly pulling through Covid as witnessed by the near and far.
Prior to Covid, educative voices around the world warned of the dominance of technology and the Internet in children’s lives. When the pandemic broke out, students were split between those who were deprived of education and those who were assisted by technology to get education in a way or another.
In countries where distance learning was a success, a debate has surfaced about the consequences of children being away from the school environment and being denied live interaction with the place, peers and teachers.
Such questions and debates pose valid and essential points, but today as we get ready to receive vaccinations and turn the page on the pandemic, we should wonder about whether there are educational strategies to equip our generations for a future in which remote work will be common at large.
As for the role of government organisations in all of that, let us meet again in another article next week.
— Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Head of Digital Government and Director General, TRA
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