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Life After Covid

16 June 2021

Blog submitted by Sage & Summit Consulting


In Alberta, we are optimistically anticipating a complete reopening in mid-July, and we are hearing mixed feelings across the board. 


“I’m nervous about going back to normal—it’s too soon.” “It’s high time, and I cannot wait to go back to normal.” etc. The opinions, concerns, and excitement cover a wide range of perspectives. 


While many are nostalgic about going back to normal, our new normal may not be what expect. We have seen quite a few practices and trends adopted at a much faster rate by means of necessity. 


We’ve noticed four trends that accelerated significantly during Covid that we expect to continue trending upwards while changing the shape of the business landscape indefinitely. 


Hybrid Remote Work

According to a study by McKinsey, hybrid remote work and virtual interactions are expected to continue. 20 to 25 percent of workers in advanced economies could opt to work from home three to five days a week, mainly in the computer-based administrative and remote customer support work arena. That is an increase of four to five times above the level before the pandemic. Remote work will have a strong ripple effect on the economy; it may reduce demand for mass transit, restaurants, and retail in urban centers. There is speculation that it may even eventually result in a trend toward de-urbanization. Imagine working from your lake lot or cabin in the mountains long-term!  


E-commerce and the “Delivery Economy” 

The uptake of online shopping and expedited delivery accelerated two to five times faster in 2020 than before the pandemic and will probably continue. This trend is disrupting jobs in travel and leisure and hastening the decline of low-wage jobs in brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants while the need for logistics businesses and related jobs in distribution centers and last-mile delivery will increase. 


Automation and AI 

Developing lean processes supported with automation and AI to cover business disruption is expected to continue in the years ahead. The use of robots in manufacturing plants and warehouses as well as adding self-service customer kiosks and service robots in customer interaction arenas has become standard.  


Labour market

The demand for skills and attributes in labour going forward will probably be the most difficult to manage. The McKinsey study proposes that the need for entry-level, low skills and low pay labour may disappear completely by 2030. 


“Before the pandemic, we found that nearly all low-wage workers who lost jobs could move into other low-wage occupations; for instance, a data entry worker could shift into retail or home healthcare. But given the trends accelerated by COVID‑19, now we estimate that to remain employed, more than half of the low-wage workers currently in declining occupations would need to shift to occupations in higher wage brackets that require different skills.” (McKinsey) 


Jobs most likely to be affected are office support, food service, and customer service and sales.  


Workers with less than a college degree will have to learn new skills and retrain to remain part of the workforce. The alternative calls for transitioning into a new or more relevant industry to remain in the workforce. New skills to focus on include higher cognitive skills, emotional and social intelligence and technological skills.  


This trend will have a lower impact on older people, who have an established career and will start moving out of the workplace between 2030 and 2040. Younger generations and unskilled labourers will be the most affected by this trend. It is a socio-economic impact that will have to be planned for by government policy-makers and addressed by the education system. Will we see the emergence of universal wages in the next ten years? 


Interested in learning more about this topic? Sage & Summit is hosting a lunch and learn panel discussion and we invite you to join! To reserve your spot for free, click here! 


Sources: McKinsey Global Institute: The future of work after COVID-19 


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