Article: Light at the end of the tunnel: Looking for light through the darkness

Life @ Work

Light at the end of the tunnel: Looking for light through the darkness

Even as uncertainty loomed over the last year, there's now cautious optimism as companies open up their workplaces for hybrid work, as vaccination rates rise and economies show early signs of recovery. Is it the light at the end of the tunnel?
Light at the end of the tunnel: Looking for light through the darkness

Diwali is a time to celebrate good over evil, it is also a time to spend time with family and friends. Over the years, office Diwali parties have been some of the most awaited events in the year - from decorations, sweets, ethnic wear and other fun activities. Even as uncertainty loomed over the last year, there's now cautious optimism as companies open up their workplaces for hybrid work, as vaccination rates rise and economies show early signs of recovery. Is it the light at the end of the tunnel? 

Here's what we are grateful for this festive season-

Winning over the evils of COVID-19 with 100 crore vaccination mark

While India celebrates the victory of good over evil and drives the latter away amid the festival of lights, the country has successfully reached the 100 crores mark of partially vaccinating the population. China tops the World vaccination list with the highest number (223 crores) of people vaccinated. It has fully vaccinated 105 crores people with India in the running next. Having vaccinated the second highest number of people, India has completed vaccination of 23.8% of its population with 103 crores of people partially vaccinated. Though the festive season of Navratri has raised the number of infections to 914 on October 31 from 690 on October 16, the country is hopeful towards reducing the effects of the infection through vaccination. Other than China and India, the US, Brazil and Indonesia make up the list of the top five countries in the world to have vaccinated the greatest number of people. Moving forward with vaccinating the highest number of people, it is expected that the festival of Diwali, will bring a new ray of hope in the lives of the Indians, who are eagerly looking forward to winning over the evils of COVID-19 soon. 

Reinstating international travels bring the isolated families closer together

According to the October edition of the UN World Tourism Barometer, about 54 million people have crossed international borders in 2021, better than since April 2020 (estimated 34 million) but 67% less than the numbers (estimated 164 million) in July 2019. Yet, these numbers exclude the APAC region, which has been the weakest region in terms of travels. The vaccination drive has now played a major part in subsiding the psychosis of travelling among people especially from Asia Pacific region. As of November 2021, almost 80% of the countries are planning to open their borders for international tourists from South Asia and more, with necessary precautions planned to be undertaken. 

With the onset of Diwali festivities, it is definitely good news for families, stuck in a different country away from their loved ones in isolation. We now live in a world where there are means to stay in touch with everyone yet have restrictions to 'touch'. Yet the positivity that the nations are generating among the masses in post-covid world is staggering. Unlocking international travel is a long way from the normalcy that people are used to experiencing yet everyone does hope that the light at the end of the tunnel will shine a bit longer. 

The hybrid model of work opens up new possibilities, widens the talent pool, and enhances diversity

A LinkedIn report, released in May indicated a 457% rise in remote job postings in the U.S. year over year, a trend observed in other parts of the world as well. McKinsey predicts that 20% to 25% of the workforce in advanced economies could viably work remotely. Many organisations have already become remote-first organisations, including BrowserStack, Twitter, Facebook, Coinbase, VMware, and upwork, among others. 

The remote-first or new hybrid work model embraced by the majority of the companies makes hiring borderless and organisations get an opportunity to hire across the globe. For the global workforce, this leads to more job opportunities to choose from. 

Additionally, removing the barrier of location from the work equation allows employers to create opportunities for people who need greater flexibility at work because of caregiving responsibilities or physical disabilities and promotes more diversity and inclusion at workplace. 

To make the most of this opportunity organisations need to redesign their work policies and nurture their culture and make it more compatible for a hybrid work model. The journey begins with listening to your employees needs, addressing the changing priorities of talent and balancing it with evolving business needs, and then the future can be brighter. 

Regaining the in-person connect with hybrid

From work to life, from celebration to loss, from fun to grief, 2020 made the global population experience these different elements of life in isolation, or at least within the four walls of their houses. With virtual calls soon fueling a wave of digital fatigue, following hours of professional and personal online conversations, the world breathed a sigh of relief when hybrid knocked our door. From intermittent in-person conversations, to those safe getaways, the ability to meet and greet family, friends and colleagues in the real world, vs a digital screen, was a hope for ‘normalcy’ to return. It has been established by now that there is no returning to the old normal. However, regaining the energy that transpires from face-to-face interactions, even if occasional, is a hope for a time when this becomes the new norm. Needless to say, with required caution.

Recovery of the global economy

The pandemic had been a real dampener for the global economy last year. But with the development and disbursement of vaccines, clouds started to lift. The global economic recovery is continuing, even as the pandemic resurges in different clusters of the world. As per the latest IMF forecast, the global economy is projected to grow 5.9 percent in 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022, 0.1 percentage point lower for 2021 than in the July forecast. The 0.1% downward revision for 2021 reflects a downgrade for advanced economies, partly on account of supply disruptions while for low-income developing countries, largely due to uncertain pandemic dynamics. However, this is partially offset by stronger near-term prospects among some commodity-exporting emerging markets and developing economies. As restrictions are relaxed, demand has accelerated, but supply has been slower to respond. While the resurging pandemic and new variants pose unique policy challenges, however, global economic recovery is expected to continue, shining a light to gradually lift the darkness brought upon by Covid. 

The festival of Diwali has always been a reminder of the light that exists at the end of the tunnel, that there is hope and resilience even in trying times. In the fight against this pandemic, there have been both losses and wins but we have to keep moving forward. We have to continue to see the possibilities that remain in front of us. Be it the larger wins of 100 crore vaccination mark, economic revival and borders opening up there are the smaller wins as well, the possibilities of meeting one another, of working together in our varied circumstances. For the up and coming talent who have been desperate to take on the world, there are more and more opportunities being created. Perhaps we will never go back to how things were, it seems impossible but we can build on what we have and start again. Rebuild and continue, together, supporting each other on this journey to where the light will be found even in the darkest of times. 

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Topics: Life @ Work

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