Dr Jitin Chadha, Director, Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD)

A first-generation entrepreneur, Dr Jitin Chadha is the Founder Director of Indian Institute of Art and Design and Indian School of Business and Finance. Dr Chadha was awarded his Doctorate in Finance in 2011, in a grand ceremony chaired by the HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal and Prof. Dinesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University.

 

In the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the entire nation, the multifarious facets of life as we know it have undergone a drastic change. With lockdowns imposed and economies brought to a grinding halt, the very definitions of education, learning and employment have been altered. As people across the country and worldwide adjust to this new ‘normal’, the traditional concept of the workplace as a physical, tangible environment needs to be rethought. With the social distancing measures and restrictions that are currently in place, work, hiring processes and the way organisations are structured are no longer what they once were. Companies and firms, across sectors, are rapidly making changes to adapt to the requirements these times present us with.

The future of work in this era is a lingering question in the minds of many. Remote work, reliance on technology for virtual office spaces and an increased digitisation of all work processes is inevitably going to characterise careers and job profiles in the coming months and years. Organisations have invariably come to recognise the many benefits that lie shrouded beneath the surface of remote work. The first and most evident one is undoubtedly a drastic reduction in overhead and maintenance costs. In addition to this, firms and employers have found that they can now hire from a larger pool of talent by cutting across geographic boundaries. Remote work has meant that issues of immigration and relocation that were once prevalent have now been mitigated. The work from home, or as it is being increasingly referred to, the ‘work from anywhere’ model that companies are implementing has meant that the hiring process has changed not just within the country but all over the world. This has left its traces on different industries, including the field of design. In fact, organisations can now work in collaboration with design agencies and vendors from across the world providing an increased sense of flexibility. This has also meant that as long as the time zones are taken care of, individuals, teams and entire companies can work from anywhere. The process of digitization itself, which would have taken a decade or more, has escalated at an unprecedented pace and is expected to only continue growing. Certain domains within the design industry have always been more digital in nature, taking Communication Design for instance and the manifold opportunities that have arisen for emerging designers in this field during the pandemic. However, even those facets of design which traditionally were not heavily reliant on technology have realised that only a small physical office space is now required on a need based purpose. From fashion shows that can now be filmed from anywhere and released on virtual platforms accessible to people from around the globe to design seminars that are completely being held online, design practitioners, academicians, students and professionals from different corners of the world are connected to one another, enabling an exchange of information and ideas and paving the way for new avenues in the field.

As firms and institutions look to hire across borders, a gig based economy has also seen a significant rise in popularity where individuals are involved on a project basis instead of a full time role. This has provided employees with a greater sense of stability in these uncertain times where they don’t need to rely on a single organisation for work. Instead, they can spread out their options. For companies, this alternative often proves more affordable thereby offering a beneficial situation for both parties involved. The work is primarily digital in nature and by no way limited to geographical location, thus, implying that organisations can hire individuals that best fit their requirements from across borders. This results in an increased intercultural collaboration, a strengthening of ties between people from different countries and diverse backgrounds and also allows for unprecedented growth and learning opportunities for individuals and companies alike. There are a wide range of new careers that are also emerging as work becomes more virtual and remote in nature. A project-based education and hands-on learning that certain institutions focus on will prepare students for these new jobs that are opening up across the world. In addition to this, students can now showcase their work and skills by uploading their portfolios on various international online platforms and connect with a much larger audience than was possible in the past. The options that follow are endless.

While it is a long trudge forward as we work towards a better future without the threat of the virus looming over us, with the vaccine here, there is hope that things will gradually return to the ‘normal’ we were accustomed to. However, certain changes like working from home and hiring beyond geographic borders may be the silver lining that this pandemic has given us, something we may decide to hang on to even once things start looking better.

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