Sure, your professional life has been severely disrupted. Once a vaccine is widely available, will things go back to the ‘old normal’? Nope. According to a survey of 800 executives across 8 large economies (US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Spain, India and UK) conducted by the leading management consulting firm, McKinsey, in July 2020, we will see big changes in how we work in the long-term.
This pandemic has forced millions of individuals out of work. Some changes are temporary but others aren’t. The mix of jobs that emerge from this crisis is likely different than those that were lost. The media is heavily focused on the disproportionate effects of these changes on people with the lowest incomes and education. But, if you look closely, many white-collar personnel have been affected – and will continue to be affected – as well.
Covid has spurred digital transformations in a matter of weeks rather than months or years – employee interaction and collaboration with videoconferencing and filesharing, digitization of customer channels with chatbots, mobile apps and ecommerce, and digitized their supply chains by leveraging digital platforms. Many are also leveraging artificial intelligence and automation technologies such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, AI-driven software that manage processes. According to the McKinsey survey, 85% of the companies have accelerated digitization, while 67% have accelerated automation and artificial intelligence. The net implication of all these is that technology can enable more contactless interactions. And, in many cases, the cost of implementing and operating these technologies is cheaper than hiring and paying human beings.
There are many ways things have changed – and will affect the jobs that many people currently do. If the use of chatbots and online self-ordering becomes more pervasive, there will be reduced demand for customer service reps and order-takers. If robots can be programmed to move things around in factories, there is reduced demand for forklift drivers and forklifts. If supply chains can adapt by leveraging AI, there will be reduced demand for supply chain engineers. With wider adoption of machine vision and machine learning, the need for quality inspectors will drop. If packages are sorted using robots, the need for warehouse workers will drop. And, spray cleaning of aircraft interiors and offices will reduce the need for cleaning personnel. The changes are not limited to blue collar workers.
In financial services, consumer migration to digital banking – deposits, payments, investments, tap credit cards, cashless money transfers and such has decreased the demand for branches and personnel across the hierarchy, at banks and financial institutions.
Many companies in a few sectors are embracing remote work in a big way – information, technology, finance and insurance. Companies in those sectors include Facebook, Twitter, Nationwide Insurance, Morgan Stanley and Mondalez. According to McKinsey, about 40% of the American workforce could potentially work remotely. How many companies embrace that practice is a cultural question, and depends on the leaders of those companies. Of course, those requiring interaction with equipment and machinery will still need to go into work – pilots, machine tool operators, bus and train operators and customer-service reps at sites.Some Jobs (and Sectors) will Grow Post-Covid Click To Tweet
These include jobs in health and hygiene and workplace safety – on-site sanitation. Companies will hire more custodians and caterers. This area will also see an increase in automation. That means greater hiring in automation, AI, robotics and machine learning across industries. There will also be a demand for companies that could retrain existing employees who know the company culture who could be retrained.Companies will hire more temporary (and contract) employees than permanent ones Click To Tweet
The uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out will drive companies to hedge their bets and hire temporary personnel. Moreover, permanent employees become fixed costs for companies whereas temporary ones are variable costs. In the business world, variable costs are generally preferred to fixed costs.
Companies may be working to hedge their bets, lower fixed costs and improve quality, safety and productivity but….many workers – blue or white collar – could be caught in the cross-hairs, negatively or positively.
Let’s continue the conversation here.
1. What are your views on what the post-pandemic workforce will look like?
2. How do you think you can prepare yourself to be relevant and highly valued ($) in the post-pandemic job market?
3. What kinds of help would be useful in your current situation?
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