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Telework - enhancing professional & personal choices

There have been significant increases in the usage of Telehealth, dial from home and e-commerce this year Enabled by tools like Zoom, Teladoc, MS Teams and Google classroom, we are able to engage with more people, participate in events over video feeds, and attend routine meetings without travelling for hours.

i. Schools and colleges which were 100% in-person pre-Covid19 are now functioning remote only or hybrid and becoming progressively more adept at it.

ii. Investment and retirement planning organizations which had advisors coming to offices every day to meet with clients have enabled them to be fully productive from the home, leading to a significant increase in video meetings with clients.

iii. 43.5% of primary care visits covered by Medicare In April 2020 were telehealth visits compared to 0.1% in March (source HHS release 7/28/2020).

The option to do more remotely will be a driver of innovation, provide more choice, and a better quality of life

The beneficial impact will be highest for the less mobile and remote populations and in activities which require no or low physical touch.

Location flexibility

Twitter has announced that all workers can work remotely and Facebook has set a goal of 50% remote workers by the end of the decade. (Source - company press releases). This trend is catching on with other hi-tech companies, financial institutions and consulting firms.

Professionals in the non-touch professions like information technology, audit and finance, HR, and recruitment will have a lesser need to go to an office workplace.

Knowing that the remote work is now a long term option, they will have more options of where to live. The choice of residence can be made with greater weightage on quality of life, affordability, and family considerations vs. the convenience of commuting to an employer work location.

Enhanced choice of employers & access to a bigger workforce

With minimal need to go to an office location, those in the non-touch professions can work for an employer down the street just as well as one in a near contiguous time zone many thousands of miles away. This will widen the choice of employers and employment opportunities.

Similarly, employers will have access to a larger pool of workers. A small tech company based in Silicon Valley will be able to hire productive workers in Denver or Portland and access a wider pool of talent.

Improved quality of life & productivity from lower commutes

The most obvious benefit of remote interaction & commerce is the reduced need to commute for routine activities, be it to an office, grocery store, doctor, or financial planner.

Fewer commutes to and from work is releasing time for hobbies, recreation, and families while time saved from reduced travel during work hours has allowed workers to do more at work and increase productivity.

Many workers in white collar corporate jobs had the option of working from home on select days. With the growth in and acceptability of remote interaction & consultation, doctors, financial planners, tax advisors, and lawyers will also have more flexibility to work from home and the benefit of a lower commute.

Lower pollution & congestion

Reduction in work and personal commutes will cut emissions of greenhouse gasses and pollutants from transportation vehicles and the upstream environmental degradation arising from the exploration & extraction of fuels and metals.

Fewer workers coming into offices and for in person consultations will shrink the need for office space, lesser congestion, traffic, and the environment stress in city centers.

Increased choice / accessibility of products and services

The growth of remote engagement will enhance accessibility to more services and products.

A resident in Edison, New Jersey will find it easier to be able to consult with a doctor, financial planner or tax attorney in Chicago. Similarly a doctor in Dallas can expand her/his patient base beyond a local commutable region.

E-commerce was growing in double digits prior to the pandemic. The closure of stores and the concerns of infection spread have accelerated this. New consumers have adopted the e-commerce channels and the range of available product / categories services has grown.

The enhanced and more accessible choice of providers & products, and the ability to make comparisons at the click of a mouse will increase competition, raise the bar for competency and productivity and improve pricing.

Better health monitoring & outcomes

Healthcare systems including Kaiser have reported sharp increases in the usage of telehealth not only during the shutdown weeks but also continuing after the shutdowns have eased. (Source Wall Street Journal)

This trend towards remote consultation is and will continue to drive the next level of innovation in remote monitoring, diagnostics, and remediation.

Even today, smart watches and devices like continuous glucose meters are available to measure & transmit vital health parameters. In its most recent release, the Apple watch can measure oxygen levels in the blood, adding to a growing list of health monitoring features.

The health data from these devices is becoming more reliable & available 24x7.

The availability and access to this data will allow better preventive care, closer monitoring, early diagnosis, and effectiveness of prescribed healthcare regimens.

In closing

The pandemic has given an impetus to greater remote engagement in commerce and services.

This will continue into the future, providing better choices and quality of life for consumers, providers, employees and employers, and reduce congestion & environmental degradation.

The less mobile, too busy to be mobile and remote populations will be the biggest beneficiaries.

Older people, caregivers, parents with small children, mobility constrained individuals, and those living in remote and undesirable locations will see significant gains in quality of life from the wider and better quality of choices in goods, services, & employment opportunities available to them.

Keep swinging!


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