In the last couple of decades or so, the online world has become an inevitable part of our reality. Although the internet has been more closely associated with personal use and social media networks in the past, it has also become an integral part of work culture. Businesses worldwide greatly depend on the internet for both networking and exposure – be it through websites or social media networks.
That being said, online work culture has bloomed in recent years – so much so that there are even many businesses that have opted for remote work environments that operate solely online, without having a physical office space. In Egypt particularly, data obtained from wuzzuf.net (an online platform that presents job listings) showed that there has been a 124 percent increase in the number of remote work job postings in 2016-2017, as well as a 144 percent increase in employees applying for remote work opportunities.
In addition to this, according to Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140 percent since 2005. With these statistics in mind, and given the fact that most businesses and companies around the world have now been forced to adopt a new kind of online work culture as a result of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the general effectiveness of online work culture is worth looking into.
Shifting work online amidst a global pandemic
Ever since COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic, most businesses – both small and large – and companies around the world have been forced to work remotely and adopt a new online work model. In fact, according to CNN Business and Business Insider, even companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon have all encouraged employees to work from home. This has also been implemented in Egypt, with bigger companies such as Dell EMC, Unilever and KarmSolar also shifting most of their work online, having employees work from home and conducting meetings over video conferences. KarmSolar even released a post on their Facebook page on March 23 showcasing how they have been successfully working from home for over a week thus far.
While – according to Owl Labs – 44 percent of companies around the world around the world don’t allow remote work at all, now more than ever the question grows as to why most businesses cannot be more lenient towards virtual and remote work. Although it is understandable that physical presence is essential – and perhaps more efficient – for most workplaces, now that there is no other option than communicating virtually through various social media platforms and video/call conference applications such as Zoom, it goes to show that perhaps more can be done online than we previously thought.
Emails are all of a sudden more efficient than we had realized, video conferences are an acceptable way to conduct meetings in a way that would suit most people’s schedules, and working in the solitude of one’s home has all of a sudden increased productivity for some. There are undoubtedly various benefits to remote work that are, all of a sudden, being brought to light.
What is most noteworthy from all this, however, is the way in which various businesses have innovatively adapted to the situation at hand and creatively leveraged off of the online world for their benefit – which has particularly been the case with smaller businesses. In Egypt, for example, small businesses such as those that provide group workshops or classes (which rely heavily on physical presence) such as Pole Fit Egypt (PFE – a local fitness hub that provides both group and private classes), have created a series of online classes people can follow at home.
Another example of how local businesses have adapted to online or virtual work is evident in the way various creative advertising and digital agencies have been flexing their muscles in the midst of all this. Both Kijamii and Kairo for Ideas for example, have released creative videos showcasing how their employees have been continuing to carry out their various duties from home; Kijamii also released a series of visuals that showcase how their employees have been working from home prior to the video.
Online work aspects most businesses can afford to keep down the line
While shifting to online work models has proved to be successful in some fronts, it has also made us realize the necessity of physical presence and networking. Perhaps businesses’ biggest takeaway from all this can be the fact that they can generally afford to adopt a slightly more lenient or flexible work culture.
Complete remote or online work culture may not be feasible for many businesses; however, with the increasingly alarming rate of burnout that has been dominating various employees in recent years, perhaps this forced shift can act as a wake-up call that leniency at work with employees can go a long way and ultimately improve efficiency for both employer and employee.
Businesses and employers can generally be more lenient with working hours, they can offer work from home once a week, and more meetings can be conducted online. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for businesses and companies worldwide to re-think their work model and adopt a work culture that can perhaps improve efficiency even further than what was previously thought.