History books will mention 2020 as the year marked by the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic changed the way we lived our lives – everything from travelling to working.
The economic impact of the pandemic is incommensurable. Sure, we can talk of it in terms of GDP change and other economic indicators that help to assess the impact. However, the opportunity-cost that has been lost to 2020 is difficult to recover in the period ahead without more sacrifices.
Consumer behaviour changed. The way people spend money and how they value money changed dramatically. Also – the way people work changed too. Suddenly, employers have a different option on the table – remote working. 2020 lockdowns and restrictions made it necessary for employers to experiment with remote working for several months. Therefore, at the end of the pandemic, companies will have an easier time comparing the advantages and disadvantages of this new system of production.
Pros and Cons of Remote Working
Many people strive for working alone. They are more productive and can focus better without disruptions. The problem is that as humans, we are social creatures. We love gathering, talking, discussing, and analysing – in person.
Much of the world’s population was forced to work from home wherever possible. As always, industries strived to adapt to the new situation quickly. Luckily, the infrastructure and the technology existed to facilitate this change (i.e broadband internet, video conferencing etc). Computer sales skyrocketed, as almost every household had to create a small office space, or at least buy a laptop.
The global FX market was strongly affected by the change in consumer behavior. For example, by bidding for tech stocks, the Nasdaq 100 index quickly reached a new all-time high during the pandemic. In turn, this triggered a lower USD move across the FX dashboard and a risk-on trading environment (e.g. higher EURUSD, AUDUSD, GBPUSD – lower USDCAD, USDJPY).
Remote working comes with plenty of benefits many employees look for – less energy spent on commuting, flexible hours, more sleep, and more time available to spend with the family.
On the other hand, many people have a hard time staying motivated, and loneliness is often reported as one of the significant downsides. Working from home also comes with plenty of distractions and the need to cope with an unreliable WiFi or Internet connection. Also, people reportedly have a hard time unplugging after work and even finding time to take a vacation – blurring the lines between work and home life.
One thing is sure. Remote working is here to stay, but not everyone is happy with it. While it may be the new normal, the moment restrictions are lifted, and it is safe to come back to the office again, most people will likely choose to do so.