Mar 23, 2020

Getting Down to Business, from Home.

Declared as a pandemic by WHO, Coronavirus or COVID-19, has changed the face of the earth. We are witnessing a never-seen-before phenomenon and its repercussions are equally perplexing. A disease that has gripped more than 330,000 people claiming more than 14,000 lives has forced the governments to issue a complete lockdown. It has further pushed workplaces to switch to a 'Work From Home' mode to contain the spread of the virus.

Businesses have already started to see the effects of the virus as malls, restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, and salons are being closed. The only demand for goods that have sky-rocketed is that of masks and hand sanitizers (not to mention, the ones with 65% alcohol content and more only). Manufacturing units are shutting down, leaving in its wake thousands of workers unemployed. The hospitality sector has been struck gravely wherein big chains like Marriott have laid off thousands of workers on unpaid leave. Many such industries are facing such a dilemma as the nature of their work does not allow for ‘work from home’ to function. 

The bigger question being, whether it will work or not? Employers all over the world are worried about the productivity of their staff, wondering if the businesses will suffer due to this startling transition. The stock market is making a new record each day of the highest dip incurred and the fear of the nearing recession. Pandemics like such have the capacity to hit the global economy beyond anyone’s control, setting countries years back in their progress and goals.

On the other side, where the scenario of work from home can work has put employers in a dubious situation. The bosses are left scratching their heads as they seriously consider the feasibility and efficacy of this alternative. The logistical nightmare of delivering and setting-up systems at every employee’s home is something that’s completely unimaginable. Reports from China, however, do bring in some good news as they have been working from home for quite some time now. According to these reports, productivity has, in fact, increased due to a significant cut down in travel time. There are lesser distractions at home and technology has made it possible to run businesses smoothly. Video conferencing and other communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams will, therefore, not only ease out daily jobs but also help contain the spread of the virus.

In countries like India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan with a very high population density, a call for such desperate measures was imperative. Containing it at an earlier stage becomes necessary thus pushing for ‘work from home’ to ensure the elimination of human contact to curb the virus. At Opinion Bureau, we thought this time calls for us to listen to what people have to say. We conducted a poll with 908 people to garner their views to ask how the pandemic is affecting them to which the majority of the respondents say that for them life is normal. They are, however, taking all the necessary measures to keep themselves safe. 9.36% of the respondents say that their businesses are hit while 8.26% of the respondents complain about how the inability to travel is affecting them badly. 12.67% of the respondents also say that studies are being hampered because of schools and colleges shutting down.

The pandemic has proven to be a real trial for the governments as well as the people since any respite seems to be a distant dream. At every juncture, from our hygiene habits to the competency of our healthcare structures is at test. It truly is a stifling time to be living in and we'll have to wait and watch what more it has in store for us. Canada and Australia, for instance, have now become the first two countries to announce their withdrawal from Tokyo Olympics 2020.

In the meantime, we must do our best to contain the spread of the novel virus COVID-19.

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