Internet and work from home prove as vital during the pandemic
Daily life in the 21st century has been undeniably shaped around technology. It’s easier to navigate on the roads, stay in contact with loved ones and food is just one click away from us.
Nevertheless, productivity growth has been very slow during this period, despite the hype around digital technology’s economic impact.
Productivity, defined as worker’s output during a certain period is fundamental in economics. Right now on average we are much richer than people who were living 100 years ago thanks to rising productivity, but when it comes to the internet it just hasn’t been able to keep the productivity rising.
Entertainment and media have been revolutionized by the internet, but despite making them accessible and pretty much a constant occupation in our daily lives the economic output is so tiny it’s almost neglectable.
The social distancing measures that have taken place during coronavirus pandemic are making it so work from home has cemented itself as a crucial part of the infrastructure. Remote learning and telemedicine are used on a massive scale, and food delivery has become crucial for small businesses to stay afloat.
No one expected something like this to make a push in the further usage of digital technology, but it’s plausible that this period will reap some potential in the long run. The emerging tools are helping us broaden access to education, open new doors to high-paid work and improve the overall quality of life through convenient medical care.
The productivity has been slowing down
The digital sector has seen massive improvements, despite that, the economic growth has been much slower in the last 40 years.
For example, we have been able to make better computer chips, even though it is an impressive change by itself, it didn’t make us better at making things, it just made us get better technology products.
In the 1950s and 1960s the productivity boom introduced the people to the widespread use of TVs, which at the time was a massive change in entertainment, something, not even Facebook, Instagram or Youtube have managed to topple.
In hindsight, we are not going to get better in a certain field until we get better at making certain products faster than it is done today.
Technology is keeping the economy alive
White-collar work is crucial to keep the economy running. Working from home might not be ideal due to the lack of working conditions we have in offices, with no obstructions from kids running around, making it hard to focus on two things at once, but that doesn’t mean remote fork isn’t functional at all.
The global economy is faced with a lot of problems currently, but at least white-collar work is able to function in a way that it wouldn’t 20 years ago. Remote work conceptually is nothing new, but modern tools are much better considering everyone is having a basic setup needed to conduct a job from home.
The majority of people definitely would rather like to work from office a given amount of hours, but at least things are able to function without losing productivity by working remotely.
Online learning and telemedicine are being used more than ever
Education and healthcare are polar opposites to entertainment and media, but one thing in common is that there has been minimum impact by technology on these fields up until now, despite holding a massive share of our household budget.
Currently, things are getting worse for these fields because of coronavirus, but the unusual situation we are facing has forced new interesting ways to experiment with technology, which could revolutionalize their impact on day-to-day life.
Remote medical consultations are making it easier for people with disabilities, rural communities or elderly patients to get basic care. Of course, it doesn’t completely negate the need for hospital and doctor visits, but it could make accessibility less of a problem.
Education, on the other hand, is a gray field when it comes to remote learning, it is clear that personal instructions from teachers are something that’s not easily replaceable. With that said there are still some professors that would manage to make distance learning a much better alternative in the long run.
Still, remote learning is something that will not be able to revolutionalize education, but it is a good foundation for further progress.
The mass unemployment risk
Unemployment is currently skyrocketing, in the wake of labor market raising wages in the last couple of years, we are once again faced with the fear of low-wage work expansion.
One of the main issues of cheap labor is that digital technology isn’t able to make a push towards the further economic rise. Rising pay creates a new incentive in management, forcing them to adapt to new technology which would be highly rewarding, but with current events, it’s almost certain it will be pushed further down the line.
However, the US could bounce back quickly with a new federal stimulus policy, one which could create a whole new demand for higher-paid sectors through new technological advances.
So far the pandemic has been compared to war quite often and as with previous world wars, it could rapidly drive the world towards new innovations. World War I and II provided a massive push towards automation and so far we are seeing something similar, which could drive us into a new time of prosperity in the long run.