• Davina Tiwari

Remote Working, Learning, and Living During the Pandemic… and Beyond?

***Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice

Is virtual life in its many forms here to stay? It’s hard to predict if it will be, but it certainly has been the norm for most industries this past while- for primary health care, mental health care, food services, community and social services, education, and much more.

There are benefits and cons to this way of life, as there is with any major change. We’ve seen that people have had a chance to take on housing, education, and job opportunities in further locales now that many aspects of life have become remote and made long-distance is less of an issue. However, this may change as organizations and companies begin to request that their staff return to the office as the pandemic eases. New lifestyles and family changes may bring people to a crossroads where they have to decide if their former work responsibilities fit with their new living and personal situation. Employees also have to figure out whether juggling work and child care and/or their child’s virtual learning responsibilities at home- sometimes with multiple jobs and children involved- is balancing out well or whether a day care centre or in-school attendance could be necessary (as permitted) to make sure that both parents’ and children’s needs are being successfully met.

Other aspects of life- such as grocery and personal shopping online as well as meal delivery services- have exploded as less physical contact became crucial in a pandemic-ridden world. The convenience that online shopping and delivery have offered is so valuable for everyone’s busy lives that it’s hard to imagine this process not continuing into the future. What may have once started as an occasional online order has rapidly become a norm.

Despite its perks, it is also natural for people to have feelings of isolation and loneliness with less social interaction. This has made remote living, working, and learning challenging for many. These individuals look forward to the time when they will be able to see people in-person more regularly. Similarly, there are some roles that may require face-to-face interactions, such as complex health assessments or investigations from a medical professional, so it will be interesting to observe whether or not the health system will retain primarily a virtual care model with in-person assessments only being offered in extreme circumstances.

Likewise, those businesses that have traditionally functioned in a brick-and-mortar space now have a chance to work in a more flexible arrangement- from home- and can observe their business expenses fall rapidly. Owners will see lower electricity, water, maintenance and other related office bills since those costs will be now redirected to the home setting. Remote work has also allowed some businesses to expand, hiring multiple team members who work from their own home, allowing for greater productivity without frequent distractions in the workplace. These businesses may want to remain remote for purely financial reasons and also to allow for a greater work-life balance with reduced commute times, which means more time for family, friends, hobbies, and interests. For those businesses that have no choice but to operate in-person, like most service industries, the pandemic has hit them very hard. They are trying their best to be creative and adapt services, where possible, to be virtual- including virtual consults, creation of product lines, and delivery services. With all of these new kinds of developments, it will be interesting to see how business and service models continue to change as the pandemic lifts.

One thing is for sure: this pandemic has had a major impact on people all over the world where all areas of their life- school, work, health, social, and personal lives- have all changed in such a radical way. No one can predict the future but it will be important to observe and monitor how the way we live, work, learn, communicate, relate, and play will continue to change as the pandemic evolves. Time will tell.

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