The Impact of COVID-19 on the Work Scenario is here to Stay

Summary of McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report

The pandemic has disrupted the work domain, severely in some and slightly in some other. The new normal created by the pandemic is likely to persist, less intensely though, in the post pandemic times. For, some of these changes are for the good and were long due.

COVID-19 pandemic enabled a renewed focus on the physical dimension of work so much so that the degree of disruption caused was proportional to the degree of physical proximity quotient. Here are few instances:

The Disruption Cracks In

  • Highest Disruption – Person-to-person contact sector: Clinics, salons and beauty parlours, customer care, some category of hotel and airport staff, bank and post offices. Many activities in these domain were closed during peak pandemic. Now limping back to normalcy. The pandemic impact has effected changes in mode of operation. E.g. the biometric identification in hotels and airports.
  • Moderate Disruption– Areas with lesser degree of inter personal interaction: Construction sites, farms and other outdoor activities. Though these workers were panicked initially, the activities resumed in a better scale.
  • Minimal Disruption – Office activities: Administrative departments in in various establishments, IT and software personnel. As interpersonal interactions are few, the activities remained more or less uninterrupted under work from home environment.  

The Shifting Work Patterns

The most visible impact of the pandemic disruption is the shift in the work patterns. An estimated 100 million workers in the eight leading economies (Including India, China, Japan, the US and some EU countries) need to switch occupations. This calls for a strategic redirection in work scenario that involves:-

  • Faster reskilling and innovation in support mechanisms.
  • Need based training rather than based on academic background.
  • Digital infrastructure and faster reskilling process to fill the gaps in skill requirements.
  • Redeployment of workers in tasks which are in demand.
  • Redefining the skill mix for the work force who look for change of jobs.

Creating New Possibilities

COVID-19 pandemic has set off many new trends and possibilities in businesses that have direct impact on work force. Some of these can be summarised thus:

  • Organisations experienced the benefits of remote work marked by efficiency and flexibility.
  • Virtual transactions like telemedicine, online banking and streaming entertainments have gained popularity.
  • Greater usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics have reduced physical interaction and touch points( E.g. more use of bio metric identification rather than physical frisking)
  • Virtual meetings became a new norm reducing the intensity of business travels. This would impact hotel industries.
  • Many customers discovered the benefit of e-commerce in shopping and grocery delivery. This creates more labour demand in supply chains.


McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report identifies three trends that could remain in the business scenario even after the pandemic scare subsides. First, hybrid (combination of work from home and office) work culture; Second, affinity to e-commerce and finally, automation in a wide range of operation. What remains to be seen is the pace of adoption once the pandemic dies down.

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Discussion Question

Do you agree that e-commerce scores above physical stores in shopping experience? Give three reasons.

Key Words

#HRM#McKinsey# COVID-19#Work Pattern#Reskilling

Source Article

McKinsey Global Institute, February 2021. The future of work after COVID‑19.