Updated: Aug 4
Working habits will never be the same again after the outbreak. As more and more countries implemented lockdown and massive closure during the Covid-19 pandemic, the coronavirus outbreak has revolutionised the entire notion of offices and business operations. Corporate leaders currently start to think about more permanent changes in how we all work that will last much longer than this crisis. But which working habits will actually stick?
We are what we repeatedly do. For years, neuroscientists have revealed that automatic habits are wired into our brain through repetition over a period of time. Lyra Puspa, the Founder and President of Vanaya & Co who is also an organisational neuroscientist said, “Our habit-making behaviours are associated with a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which plays a key role in taking a behaviour and turn it into an automatic routine that sticks over time.”
“As we master a skill or repeatedly do a particular task, our brain forms a habitual neural network that makes us use the skill or do the task much easier,” says Puspa. “The brain starts working less and less, and the skills become more natural. This habit-formation mechanism enables us to ride our bike or write our name easily without having much effort and paying conscious attention to it.”
According to the neuroscience of habit, a 3- to 5- week period1 of doing the same thing every day can form a new habit that will sustain. As the pandemic is forcing many organisations to reshape the way their employees work for more than 8 weeks period of lockdown, there are several emerging ways of working that may potentially prolong after the crisis ends.
1. Remote Working
As companies make the leap to enable remote working amidst a worsening Covid-19 outbreak, many leaders start to anticipate a growing embrace of remote working as a part of dynamic evolution of working arrangement after things get back to normal. Even though our brain is getting used to working remotely from home, the massive adoption of a full remote working model in post-covid period may still need a long way to go. As more and more workers around the world found that remote working actually decreased their well-being, there is increasing probability that workers will prefer be back to the old commuting habit when the crisis over. Workers certainly need to build an agile attitude rapidly when company leaders decide to continue implementing remote working as a management practice in post-covid future.
2. Video Conferencing
Having exposed so often to back-to-back meeting using various video conference applications really disrupts the way of communicating and decision-making at work. Managers who previously preferred face-to-face communication in their regular meeting are now getting used to adopt digital interaction in everyday work life. Even if people will get back to work at office after the crisis ends, video conference technologies will still be used by managers to enable long-distanced communication and meeting with their team in geographically dispersed workplaces.
3. Cloud Computing
Covid-19 crisis pushes organisations deeper into a digital transformation. Embracing digital technologies in everyday work life across organisations will be the next big thing in the wake of Covid-19. One of the technologies that will gain massive adoption by workers around the globe is cloud computing for virtual collaboration. Without the cloud during the pandemic, companies would struggle to back up databases, co-create documents, access data analytics, remote data processing, etc. Once technology start to reshape our daily working life, it will never truly be over.
4. Social Selling
The pandemic rapidly changes the consumer behaviour across the globe. More than 60% consumers are shifting to online purchases2 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Social selling, the art of using social media to laser-target and nurture sales prospects, is on the rapid rise. Sales people in many organisations across industries need to master how to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and even close the deal through social media network.
5. Business Analytics
During the pandemic, digitally native organisations that naturally embrace data-driven decision-making show much higher resilience in adapting to abrupt change and leverage the sudden shift of consumer behaviour to strengthen their market positions. It is highly obvious that Covid-19 outbreak foster the rapid rise of data-driven management and leadership practice in many organisations. To ensure business continuity and competitiveness in the near future, managers have to be more open to embrace data analytics as a part of their daily decision-making process.
Loewenstein, G., Price, J., and Volpp, K. “Habit formation in children: Evidence from incentives for healthy eating,” Journal of Health Economics, 2016, 45, 47-54.