VOICES PUSHPESH PANT SHEILA KUMAR RAJAT CHAUDHURI ANUJA CHANDRAMOULI AMAR BHUSHAN SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT NEW DELHI AUGUST 23 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 The Future is Here Whether it’s at home or at the workplace, life will never be the same again. It’s time to be flexible and ready to adapt to new realities. By V KUMARA SWAMY N ame notwithstanding, CoronaOven, the manufacturers claim, is an all-rounder as it can get rid of a wide variety of germs, including bacteria and viruses. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine that this may one day end , , up on your shoe stand to disinfect groceries from outside. The Bengaluru startup, which invented it, claims that even French President Emmanuel Macron’s residence has one. Several Bengaluru homes, hospitals, police stations and even the airport have installed it, according to its inventor, Log 9 Materials. If necessity is the mother of invention, the present and near future could well prove to be the grandmother of many innovations. The rules of engagement among humans are also undergoing many changes. And the presence of humanoids among us more than ever before could be one of them. “It was a novelty all these years. But because of the coronavirus, robots will be seen in offices, restaurants, hospitals and other places in large numbers in the coming years,” says Rajeev Karwal, MD, Milagrow Business and Knowledge Solutions, the company that came up with humanoid robots; RoboJulia (named after Hollywood actor Julia Roberts) can serve three tables at a time and RoboDiCaprio can man reception desks. Robots may not supplant humans in many other aspects of our lives and not many can afford a disinfecting oven, but innovations, safety concerns and a bit of paranoia are forcing changes happening at a rapid pace and they are probably here to stay The office . space, for instance, may undergo a complete transformation. It may no longer be sardine-can like, with employees getting more square feet per person and a bit more privacy, thanks to ‘social distancing’ entering the office design lexicon. But the desks may smell more like bathrooms due to regular bouts of ‘sanitisation’. The concept of ‘anytime, anywhere using any device’ workplace has been in existence for a long time with technology evangelists talking about it for even longer, but it was probably held back by the fear of taking a collective leap forward. Right smack in the middle of a crisis, there is realisation that they may have little choice. SLOG FROM HOME After taking over as the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer decided to do away with work-from-home (WFH) in 2013. She had her reasons. Mayer wrote in an internal memo to employees that working side-by-side was important for “communication and collaboration” and that some of the best decisions and insights came from “hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings”. Her biggest argument against WFH was that often it led to the sacrifice of “speed and quality”. “We need to be one Yahoo!” and it comes with physically being together, she argued. Today, Mayer would be branded a yahoo. In a 2014 paper, the researchers at Pennsylvania State University, US, said that people felt less stressed working in an office than at home. This was after they tested cortisol, a biological marker for stress, among 122 workers during the weekdays and weekends. But more recent studies, after the mass lockdown, seem to suggest that people are in favour of working from home, even if their stress levels are higher. The indications from the jobs market, which is anyway going through a crisis, point to the fact that many of the jobs on “All workers in service industries have to adapt to new guidelines. For instance, security folks have to now manage beyond just movement etc. They have to look at deliveries within the premises, co-ordination with stakeholders while ensuring that guidelines are adhered to.” PRAVIN AGARWALA, Founder, Better Place According to this blue-collar staff management organisation, companies are adapting to changing circumstances and multi-tasking is in. offer are related to remoteworking. According to JobsForHer, a career platform for women, WFH is becoming the norm for the majority of the workforce. “Our platform saw women mostly applying for job roles like journalist, editor, content writing, tele-calling, customer services, QA Testing, etc. We also observed that education, IT, recruitment, internet/e-commerce and advertising and PR were some of the most popular industries,” says Neha Bagaria, founder and CEO, JobsForHer. With more and more people wanting to convert a room or a corner into a workspace, companies have jumped into the fray to cash in on this potentially growing business. For instance, Awfis, which offers coworking office space and on-the-go mobile offices, has come up with the concept of Awfis@Home under which it offers toolkits for a price. Besides providing ergonomic furniture and high-speed broadband connection, it also offers office-like-design at home, including cubicle-like settings. “WFH was considered an experiment. It is tried and tested now, and it is here to stay . The companies have clearly understood that they need to think about bringing down costs and WFH is one way of doing it, and employees, having proved that they can be as productive at home as in the office, can be confident of this becoming a permanent concept and hence spend money on having their own office at home,” says Amit Ramani, founder, Awfis. Awfis is not alone in seeing profitable opportunities in the WFH space. For instance, a Gurugram-based furniture brand launched a line of WFH tables that can be adjusted to stand or sit while working. Whether it is Facebook or Google at the world level or large companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India, they clearly foresee a significant number of their employees working from home in the future. In fact, TCS has announced that 75 percent of its 4.5 lakh staff would permanently work from home by 2025. Currently, their share is around 20 percent. Getting used to the new normal will not be easy You . will realise that doorbell will ring at the most inopportune time, your kids may crash your video conferences or want to talk to you just when you are about to finish something important, and you may want to rush to your kitchen to check your oven or taste something that is cooking and there will be a thousand other distractions. But it’s time to better get used to them. These would be just another day in the office. Away from gyms and parks, people are already finding ways to stay healthy at home, thanks to mobile apps. Delhi-based Shweta Shinde, 35, has roped in her pre-teen sons—bored of sitting at home—to join in her live workouts with FITTR, a fitness app. “I don’t want them to just watch TV all day, so I make them exercise with me whenever I attend live workouts. They’re fun to do and keep my boys active,” she says. Turn to page 2 “It was a novelty all these years. But because of the coronavirus, robots will be seen in offices, restaurants, hospitals and other places in large numbers in the coming years.” RAJEEV KARWAL, MD, Milagrow Business and Knowledge Solutions The company’s humanoid robots, RoboJulia and RoboDiCaprio, can serve three tables at a time and man reception desks, respectively. CORONAOVEN CAN GET RID OF A WIDE VARIETY OF GERMS, THE MANUFACTURERS CLAIM. EVEN FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON’S RESIDENCE HAS ONE, THEY SAY.
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