Hybrid Is The New Normal
HWM Singapore|September 2020
Nobody was prepared for Covid-19. This time last year we were traveling, enjoying holidays, going out with friends, meeting loved ones, and conducting face to face meetings. And then our world changed.
Ken Wong

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

We thought we were ready to deal with disruptions like Covid-19 after going through SARS. The pandemic of 2003 saw some changes to work like the adoption of conferencing technology, the beginnings of a disparate and spread out workforce, and sowed the seeds of a work from home idea.

But reality set in when we found that technology couldn’t quite deliver on what they were promising.

Broadband speeds were enough to deliver good voice communication, but video was lacking unless you were prepared to splurge on the most expensive telepresence suites. Working outside of the office was difficult with limited internet coverage and mobile data couldn’t be relied on; coverage was spotty since 4G wasn’t an option then.

Fortunately, we were able to deal with SARS in a less than a year and kept the number of lives lost as low as possible.

And we also returned to the old ways of work with face to face meetings and work travel resuming without global lockdowns and restrictions.

THE BAD NEW DAYS

And then Covid-19 arrived and the world turned again.

As the pandemic hit more countries and people, events worldwide began to be cancelled and moved increasingly online. Business travel was hit and eventually all travel was stopped. And as things became more severe, Governments worldwide began ordering shutdowns and ordering us to work from home.

Singapore was no exception and businesses and workers in the country began to prepare for the changes Covid-19 would be bringing.

BUSINESSES GO DIGITAL

A recent report from Microsoft found that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a dramatic rethink in how people and organisations work. With social distancing becoming a leading strategy in combating COVID-19, travel to the office or to client sites is being discouraged, if not outright banned. For these companies, the only solution to remain operational has been to enable work from home.

The main problem has been reacting fast enough to the changes brought about by Covid-19.

A survey of Singapore companies found that owing to a lack of digital agility, nearly three quarters (71%) have struggled to make changes to their financial plans for the year, with 63% unable to realign their organisational structures.

More worryingly for Singaporean workers, the Workday Digital Agility Index, found that just over half (52%) of organisations said that less than half of their people are equipped with digital skills and capabilities. A staggering 17% said that they have almost no employees with digital experience or skills.

Now, with the pandemic making working from home and online collaboration a top priority, organisations and individuals are reluctant to go back, and this will become the “new normal” - a recent Gartner survey found that 41% of employees are now likely to work from home at least part of the time post-pandemic.

EMBRACING THE NEW NORMAL

To find out more about this new normal and how ready our companies and fellow staff are for it, we spoke to Samir Sayed the Managing Director for ASEAN and Korea at Poly.

We spoke of the rise of remote working after SARS. Why is it different now? Is video conference finally here to stay or will business travel come back?

During the SARS period, video conferencing was just starting to take off, helping to break down geographical barriers in the face of travel restrictions, as well as to ensure some form of business continuity.

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