The COVID-19 pandemic radically shifted the way people work and has resulted in a “new normal” where most people can indefinitely work from wherever they want, according to a speaker at this year’s Toronto Tech Summit.
“I see our new normal, which consists of teams that are focused on innovation and collaboration, rather than how much work they get done,” said Renata Vaccaro, co-founder and chief technology officer of ProjectBoard, a social platform for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects.
“I think technology will allow these teams to be productive and allow them to work when they want from anywhere they want.”
Vaccaro made her comments during the annual Toronto Tech Summit’s Oct. 15 launch, held via Zoom. The call centred around various speakers from different career backgrounds who discussed the future of work, Web 3.0, and transportation.
Some of the largest tech companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, announced earlier in the pandemic that they will continue to allow employees to work from home even once it’s over.
Other companies have amended their policies regarding how and where their staff are allowed to operate. Some use a hybrid workplace model to enable employees to work remotely, while others have switched to fully digital workplaces.
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Major corporations are dealing with a surge of employees quitting their jobs searching for more flexible work conditions. Many call it the “Great Resignation,” and many businesses now have difficulty hiring, said Alex Manea, chief information security officer for Georgian, a fund that invests in software companies.
“You can look at this shift as either a challenge, or you can look at it as an opportunity, because if you can start hiring remotely, that immediately expands your hiring pool and ability to find the right people with the right skill set,” he said.
The future of public transportation is another issue in an age of remote work — particularly in a major urban centre such as Toronto.
Josipa Petrunic, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), said innovation and electrifying the city will create a foundation for other companies and industries. She believes the infrastructure of the TTC will play a key role.
“It’s clear, and this is not a pipe dream. It’s going to be electrified, it’s going to be autonomous, and it’s going to be data-driven. But it’s not going to be cars. It’s going to be public transit,” Petrunic said.