COVID-19 and the Circuit Breaker have changed our way of life. In a recent speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the need to adjust the way we live, work and play. Some of trends look like they will last way beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and be part of the “new normal”.
To find out what some of these trends might be, we asked our DollarsAndSense Telegram Channel members to learn about what they observe as the most impactful changes so far. To the nearly 1,000 poll respondents, we thank you for generously sharing your insights!
#1 Virtual Seminars And Events
In our poll, 90% of our respondents have said that they think that virtual conferences and meetings would continue to take place after the pandemic.
As they use video conferencing software to replace physical conferences and seminars, companies are beginning to consider whether to hold these conferences online. Singaporeans are also starting to realise that in some cases, it would be better to attend such meetings online instead of being in the conference physically.
Companies can cut costs in planning such events, as well as increase accessibility to the conference, allowing people all around the world to join. In total, there would be an increase in total number of people participating in conferences, increasing the amount of knowledge shared and business partnerships forged with people globally.
#2 Online Learning
83% of respondents agreed that schools should include online learning into their curriculum after COVID-19 has passed. The initial teething difficulties that came from learning online, such as unfamiliarity with tools, the lack of social norms in virtual groups, and lack of hardware for some students are continually being worked on, and will only get better in the future.
By reducing travel time or eliminating the need for students and teachers to be in the same physical space, more time is freed up for actual learning and exploration. Online tools also allow for new possibilities, such as augmented reality tours and interactive experiences that might be too expensive or dangerous to do in real-life.
#3 Virtual Medical Checkups
With COVID-19, telemedicine services have shot up in popularity, with the perception that getting treatment at home would be safer and more comfortable for people with minor sicknesses.
Slightly more than half of respondents believe that people will continue to use such services in the future, with users enjoying the convenience and time saved seeking medical help online, instead of having to physically go to the doctor. Telemedicine services also provide medicine delivery and even doorstep services at your house, further increasing the convenience of getting medical treatment for minor illnesses.
Telemedicine services obviously will not replace treatments for serious illness that need in-person therapy. Still, Singapore may see a shift towards having more Singaporeans and medical workers providing telemedicine services, as both a complement and (in some cases) a replacement for traditional medical care.
#4 Working From Home
In the poll, our respondents were split on whether their companies would allow them to continue working from home after the pandemic. Even though COVID-19 has made companies realise that work-from-home is a viable option, they may still be hesitant to follow Twitter’s example and let employees work from home permanently.
This may be due to worries over less productivity from employees, or concerns about the long-term impact of such arrangements on company culture.
Nevertheless, the circuit breaker has forced companies to reconsider their options. It reveals to companies that remote working, once considered as less productive and efficient, is a legitimate way for companies to operate. Companies now need to carefully study if remote working does lead to improved morale and productivity.
#5 Remote Hiring
The poll results were quite split on remote hiring, even though 22% of respondents said that their companies are already doing the hiring process for new workers remotely.
Before COVID-19, HR departments might have been sceptical about hiring remote workers, especially if they are not in the country. However, the results do show that overall, a majority of companies are either considering or are already hiring remote workers outside of Singapore.
Like remote working, companies might now be less resistant to hiring workers remotely, whether those based here or overseas. This can be a doubled-edged sword. On one hand, this trend could give Singaporeans a larger potential pool of overseas companies to work for, but it could also mean workers here might face more competition as well.
COVID-19 Was A Catalyst For Change
With COVID-19 accelerating the digitalisation of our economy, jobs and lives, you could say that COVID-19 sparked a push forward into the future of work and life.
These trends appearing are only the beginning, since they can either become even prominent in the future, or continue to evolve into new and exciting forms. What’s certain is that to remain ahead of the curve, we need to identify them early, and be adaptable enough to embrace change.
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