COVID-19: The Outbreak
Our generation is one that is witnessing this tremendous outbreak evolution in history. COVID-19 keeps on adding terms to our new-normal. Some of the latest are lockdown, quarantine, self-isolation, pandemic, asymptomatic, comorbidity, containment zone, PPE, social-distancing, sanitization, and work-from-home (WFH). In such a transformed world one needs to adapt to the new-normal as quickly as possible for survival.
COVID-19 and Business
In the business world, while many establishments were forced to shut down because of not being able to adapt to the required changes, others are still undergoing severe transformations to match the current flow. As exceptions, a few came into existence only as a result of this pandemic. From cinemas to entertainment, events to exhibition, logistics to supply-chain, manufacturing to techies, new start-ups to businesses pushed in their decline stage, and many more, the entire business world is undergoing remarkable twists and turns.
Work-from-Home (WFH) – The only way-out
‘Work-from-home’ or ‘WFH’ is a state where one can work without any compulsion of being present in a physical office space. Here, technology is the key to success. Being well-connected to the work station using technology such as system, software, video/audio calls, emails, individual/group conference, etc., ensures that work can be done from anywhere. In the midst of the third wave of COVID-19, while welcoming New Year 2022 with good wishes, WFH is still considered as the only way out to escape from this deadly virus spread.
‘Worcation’ – Necessity: The Mother of Invention
Among the businesses that have suffered the most from this unprecedented virus outbreak, Tourism and Hospitality Industry is one. On the other side, among the successful surviving businesses, IT is one. A saying “Necessity is the mother of invention” fits perfectly in this ongoing scenario where businesses go beyond everything in search of any idea that can change their life. The Tourism and Hospitality Industry is experimenting and leaving no stone unturned to get their charm back. One such idea is ‘worcations’ (sometimes also written as ‘workations’). This newly coined term is the combination of ‘work’ and ‘vacation’ or ‘working vacation’ showing a perfect blend of work with leisure. In simple words, the one who is doing WFH and has no obligations of being present at a physical workstation can enjoy this period by venturing out to new places without disturbing their work routine.
New Normal – New Opportunities
Working professionals are continuously working in WFH mode since Feb/March 2020. This new concept ‘Work-from-Anywhere’ (WFA) is a good way to escape the monotony of WFH. They can easily avail some fun-filled activities such as trekking, bird-watching, being with nature, etc., without disturbing their work. Jointly, with real-estate/property businesses, tourism companies are now trying and experimenting with this new idea by offering various lucrative offers to their consumers and positioning the term WFA instead of WFH. For this, companies are offering various services such as work-friendly spaces in terms of complete technology set-up, high-speed internet, homely meals, sanitized stays, and much more. Many “city-wearers” who are working professionals-cum-travelers add short nearby trips and stay on and off from WFH to taste WFA while blurring the fine line between the two.
In one way, this new under-development phenomenon allows the Tourism & Hospitality Industry opportunities while following social distancing protocols. Under WFA, ‘travel-stays’ are different from pre-covid times in terms of duration and location. First, people are opting for longer stay (2 weeks – 2 months or so) to enjoy the location on weekends. Second, instead of hotel rooms near main city areas, tourists are preferring isolated arrangements having privacy and work-setup such as tree houses, farm houses, camp houses, villas, etc. Companies such as AirBNB, Thomas Cook, WanderOn are few among the lot offering various WFA packages, arrangements, and information within the country’s tourism.
WFA shows a mixed response from employees as well as employers. While some employers are ready to reap the benefits of such options to rejuvenate and motivate their employees, some others strictly ask their employees to kindly stay within the city to be sure of their ready-availability whenever needed by the organization.
As this is one of the recent shifts in the business world, will people accept this new idea in the middle of COVID-19’s third wave? Will companies arrange such a work environment successfully in remote areas? Marketers need to understand that unique promises at this time will become an expected product/service level in the future. Should companies allow their employees for ‘work-from-anywhere’ as it may lead to productivity issues due to “vacation moods”? Is it feasible under various Central and State Government levied COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions regarding intra-state travel? As Shahrukh Khan said in OSO, Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost! So, let’s wait and watch.
Dr. Anuradha Yadav