By: Saquib Ahmad, Managing Director SAP Pakistan

With #WFH and #remoteopportunities trending across all platforms, an introvert’s dream of connecting from behind a screen has now become the ‘new normal.’ The ‘new normal’ is a digitized, fast-paced, and truly global cousin of the old world we used to live in.

The good news is that even during a pandemic – that forced us all to stay at least 6 feet away from each other – we have surprisingly found innovative ways to come even closer.

It’s business (un) usual:

Typical contingency plans were turned on their heads when Covid-19 broke out in March 2020. Most companies and people have a Plan B to fall back on in times of natural calamities, economic slumps, and cyber breakdowns. No one, however, was prepared for extended economic turbulence, travel restrictions, quarantines, school closures, and other productivity issues that came with the pandemic.

The positive impact of this is that the series of events have turned the wheel of change for many businesses that should have adapted to digital efficiency a long time back. What we are living through is a historic moment where businesses, especially in Pakistan, have resigned themselves to the unfathomable power of the internet. Gone are the days when you’d be told to “not bother about digital so much” and “just put 5% of the overall budget on digital ad spend.” If anything, COVID has made entrepreneurs realize that digital is indispensable to business growth in the modern world and the faster you adapt (read: connect), the better.The seamlessness with which face-to-face boardroom meetings transitioned into a multi-window conference on Zoom also highlights the importance of digitizing your business today.

As companies navigate through the turbulent waters of COVID-19, a question worth toying with is: How has remote work impacted the productivity levels of employees in general? According to a study by a California-based company, employees who were quick to find smart ways to reconstruct the work-life balance showed an increase in productivity by 47%!

Applications such as Qualtrics and Concur have helped businesses create integrated workflows and share protected files in a secure manner. Moreover, applications like SAP Conversation AI have assisted companies in deploying chat bots quickly to stay connected to their customer 24×7.

While the businesses have somewhat found solid ground, the education sector in Pakistan seems to be struggling to catch up with post-COVID times, leaving education in limbo. The good thing is, with the world on our fingertips thanks to SERPS like Google, parents have accepted home-schooling as the new reality. From online course work sessions to digital workbooks, working parents, along with teachers, are exploring the World Wide Web for coursework support that can cushion the blow of the pandemic on the student’s educational journey. This collaborative effort by parents, children and teachers has led to a more immersive learning experience in a highly interactive environment, both virtual as well as physical.

Saved by the bell:

The pandemic has also led to a monumental shift in the lifestyle of the average man. Look at your phone history and you’d be surprised to see the number of video, phone, Skype and FaceTime calls you have attended since COVID-19 happened.

It may have plunged us into self-quarantine, but COVID has also jolted people out of the blasé attitude towards intimacy and made them look for avenues to connect better with their loved ones. Afterall, the COVID is the first crisis in the history of mankind which we are all going through together at the same time.

Just scroll through your newsfeed and you would notice how this global crisis has encouraged people to make mental health a priority, practice true empathy and be kind to each other. This has led to better online communities and deeper interactions on social media, as well ason formal platforms such as LinkedIn. Not only is this good for your personal growth, but higher engagement levels in virtual personal/professional spaces also serve as a great pitch. Think about it, a follower today, may become your client/employer tomorrow!

Here are a few tips that can help you connect and communicate better:

  1. Don’t try to force video calls. An uninterrupted phone call will make you feel much better than a video call with latency problems.
  2. If work anxiety takes a toll on you, connect with like-minded professionals, and share ideas on how the world has #changedbycovid. This will help you improve your skill set and be better prepared for post-COVID times.
  3. There’s no right or wrong way to feel about this. With mental health being just as important as COVID safety measures, be vulnerable, and reach out.
  4. The pandemic has slowed down the rat race. Take this downtime to re-strategize, revise, and reflect.

Remember, one way or another we are getting out of this together.