Technology adoption gets new life in Covid-19 times
With the young discovering old ways to connect and the old connecting with the new, the Covid-19 outbreak has turned some assumptions about technology and the demographics of the Internet on its head.
The more obvious changes have been the wide patronisation of mobile applications, earlier considered suitable only for preteens. One of these is Houseparty — an informal videocalling app with games-like charades and trivia that one can enjoy with an intimate group of friends.
The less obvious is the increasing technology expertise that non-digital natives are gaining. For instance, the product manager of a Hyderabad-based startup, Aditya Kumar, was surprised when his mother had accidently learnt how to open the email app on her phone. This email app was logged into her son’s account, detailing all his purchases on food delivery and ecommerce websites.
“Even though I order a lot of food from outside, I promised her one night that I wouldn’t until the coronavirus scare was over. On the same night, she sent me a message asking why I had ordered noodles. She unknowingly learnt to use the email app and she was not happy,” he said.
Technology adoption by the more ‘senior’ professionals has also picked up, in the absence of any scope to conduct face-to-face meetings or interviews with many favouring app-based video calls on Zoom and Skype. The tables, however, have turned with younger candidates asking for more popular chat apps to be used rather than tailor-made and professional video-calling apps.
“The candidates are sometimes not immediately equipped with these mediums. They would never have expected (to use them), so that’s where we are spending a lot of time in educating them … In some cases, we also request the clients to do a WhatsApp video call,” said Sunil C, the head-specialised staffing at TeamLease Digital.
Intergenerational clashes in the use of technology by members of the IT workforce and older members of their families are also finding amusing expressions in the form of memes on social media. The woes of logging onto team meetings and presentations via video are also documented with memes, some of which include an oblivious or curious parent staring into the laptop screen from behind the shoulder of a visibly embarrassed employee.
The blurring boundaries between home and work have been especially difficult for entry-level executives on the front line of managing continuous business connectivity and coordination for businesses.
Parthiban Raman, a process improvement analyst at New York-based grocery delivery firm FreshDirect, is reeling under such stress, having to monitor business throughout the day and missing the separation between work hours and leisure hours. “We need to improve processes every day for the delivery executives who start their work at night. But the challenge is that so-called improvement shouldn’t create life risks for anyone in the supply chain. If it does, then the very next morning have to go back to the original processes which may not have been perfect but work.”
Old-school discipline for this new way of working is being suggested in such cases which allow some demarcation between work and home life.