Opinion: Successes and failures of online formats

2020 was pretty terrible. I only know one person who liked 2020, but he also likes J.J. Abrams and Circus Peanuts, so his opinions are invalid. No, the year 2020 has been almost universally panned as one of the most trying years in recent memory, and the threats of world war, the advent of COVID-19, and the increase of political turmoil only added to the chaos and stress the world over. As it became unsafe for people to remain in their workplaces, all employees but essential workers began a rocky transition to completely online formats, which was seen as an impossibility beforehand for many people.

However, in a general sense, this particular aspect can be seen as a net positive for the year. Many people started working from home instead of in an office, meetings became video calls, and commutes became a whole lot shorter compared to the previous daily routine of driving into and out of work. Towards the beginning of quarantine, this was viewed as an inconvenience, an unwelcome change, but now that things are calming down and vaccines are available, where do businesses currently using these virtual formats go from here? The higher-ups in companies like these have now been shown that their employees are perfectly capable of doing their work without office space, on-site resources, company parking, etc. So what reason would they have to return to their original formats?

Humans fear change. For the most part, anyway. This is a known factor, and last year threw a huge spotlight on this, as people became more and more anxious at the prospect of being forced to stay at home. Some complied with regulations, some refused. Some acted out against those who wore masks, some wore them quietly and simply avoided conflict. Some kept to themselves, some paraded through streets in protest. But change is necessary, and the people who were adamant against it went through some change themselves, regardless of whether they acknowledged it or not. But change happened, and now we deal with the aftereffects of the events of the prior year.

We have people operating entirely online, and while it may be tempting to simply return everything to how it was before the quarantine began, that’s not necessarily a good idea. Business costs would be a lot lower without renting office space, paying for power, parking, water, internet, and various utilities that the employees already have available to them. Employees save a lot of money by negating or lessening their weekly gas usage, not to mention the extra time they gain from skipping the commute. There is, in all honesty, little to be gained from transitioning back to in-person workplaces, at least in terms of jobs that can be done entirely online to justify the saved costs and inconvenience.

While it’s easy to say these things on paper, it’s a lot different trying to convince people to stay in the format they’ve been viewing as such a drastic and unwelcome change when going back to how things were is a viable option. So, will businesses opt to return to their previous status quo, or adopt new policies educated by the response to the pandemic?

Personally, I think we’ll see an influx of both, with different businesses choosing different formats, but stay-at-home jobs are now more of a realistic and widely available option than ever before, and I think it’s doubtful that would simply be swept aside. But hey, that’s just the perspective of someone who really would rather stay inside anyway. Stay safe, everyone.

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