A lot has been said over the years of various revolutions which changed the face of the earth as we know it. Typically they were kick-started by a major event, whether that be an invention or a war but had a major impact on everyone’s lives at the time. This time, the major event is an pandemic, but how can we use the technology at our disposal to win the war?
Back in the the late 18th century the first industrial revolution hit Britain, bringing the introduction of machines to manual jobs such as textiles and steam power. People moved from rural villages to cities and the world as we know it was born.
100 years later, the second industrial revolution was upon us with electricity, petrol and telephones, things still critical for day-to-day life as we know it.
The invention of microprocessor brought the personal computer and the third industrial revolution was born, somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s. The world moved from analogue to digital communication and I suspect this era is what a majority of people reading this will relate to.
Around 2012 the fourth industrial revolution arrived. The move towards automation, wireless connectivity, and cloud hosting were the main achievements during this time – the lifeblood of the tech industry.
Why am I giving you a history lesson (and a bad one at that)? Because typically these revolutions have coincided with huge worldwide events. Whether that be an invention (such as steam power) or a world war to inspire and focus the great minds of the time to bring new inventions or ideas. We’re currently in the middle of the biggest world event since World War II, something this generation or the previous have never experienced, myself included. But will this experience hinder the digital revolution or will further adoption of these technologies boost the digital world further?
Many business are already enforcing work-from-home policies, trying to limit the spread of infection, many countries are in full lockdown, large events have been cancelled in the sporting, music and tech world and sadly many lives have been taken. I’ve read plenty of articles over the past week or so on how similar this feels to being at war, the isolation, panic and hysteria – but the one key difference is technology.
We needent feel isolated, we have voice and video calls, social media. We have same or next-day delivery on many products, from food to dishwashers. We have entertainment, from streaming services like Netflix, or games consoles, or the big, bad Internet. All of these facilities can be had without stepping outside, without risking exposure to carriers allowing us to continue with our lives.
I had this discussion with a colleague just the other day, and he said that the world is a very different place than in the 1940s, not just technology but that the world is driven by money, business and capitilism and the issue facing many governments is not the number of people that die from the virus, but the financial impact of that country slipping into economic freefall because people can’t work, the country stands still.
We may look back on coronavirus as the moment when the threads that hold the global economy together came unstuckIndependant https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/coronavirus-deaths-trump-stock-market-pandemic-economy-bankrupt-italy-a9394891.html
Its a bit of a depressing story really, and a difficult one to fight. If you close schools, parents in critical jobs such as health services or police officers have to look after their children, or worse still – let the child’s grandparents look after them – a demographic at high risk from contracting coronavirus. By encouraging everyone to not travel, well the transport and retail industries, already struggling are impacted.
But for those businesses who can allow their workers to self-isolate at home, not only does that limit the spread of the virus (especially in those pesky air-conditioned offices) but I think it forces us to use technologies in anger that we have maybe just flirted with. The concept of ‘working from home’ in the past has been a dirty word, just another phrase to describe slacking off – and I, in the past would have agreed. I myself have struggled to concentrate with distractions at home, and found output drop. But over the past few weeks, working a day a week from home, I’ve started seeing much better output.
We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement.Gartner https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/with-coronavirus-in-mind-are-you-ready-for-remote-work/
I’ve found technologies such as Okta, Office365, and having a majority of my most commonly used apps hosted in the ‘cloud’ a huge benefit, accessibility for your workforce is key. Secondly, communication mediums are critical. I’ve posted recently around collaboration suites being my favourite topic, I’m an avid Microsoft Teams user – and I’ve been in numerous video conferences, sharing presentations, co-authoring documents to convince me that although its not quite the same as being in the same room, it’s a damned good second place.
Lastly, and this sounds like a bit of a weird one – if you’re lucky to have an office at home (or just any room where you work) then make sure you make it habit to get up from your computer, stretch your legs, keep hydrated (or caffinated…). Its easy to get lost in your computer when nobody is sitting next to you like in the office, nobody is asking you a quick question, or asking how your evening was.
Outside of the corporate world, we have neutral information mediums such as Twitter and Reddit providing us information free from political bias, we have WhatsApp, possibly the best communication medium for keeping in contact with loved ones and of course apps such as Instagram which provide a welcome distraction throughout the day. Typically the only news articles you’ll ever read about these things are negative, about how they are killing our social skills, how bad they are for our health. But when you’re alone, confined to your home, these apps are what allows you to keep your sanity. They are just another example of how technology, when used in the right way can complement our lives, not harm it.
When all is said and done over the coming weeks and months, I think everyone will certainly have changed for the better, whether that be better hygeine or an awareness of those more vulnerable than themselves. But I do hope that the forcing of this big experiment of working and staying at home, show that technology truely has come into it’s own. I hope that people realise that the world has come a long way in the last century and that the tools available to us whether at work or personally are there to enhance our lives, not just distract.