The future of work – is Taiwan ready for it?
Taiwan is currently often in the international news. More often than it used to be in the last years. In Germany, where I am from, Taiwan is regularly featured as the best example of how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic effectively. During the past few months, when I spoke to customers and friends back in Europe, they really could not believe that life was more or less “normal” here in Taiwan, almost like there was no virus.
This fact already brings us to a key point:
The pandemic and many countries’ inability to deal with it effectively has acted as a catalyst to speed up some existing trends and developments. The pandemic served as an involuntary turbo-boost for change that was resisted for years before. This is also very much true for the world of work.
Two examples: A customer of ours, a large bank in Germany, was discussing for over 10 years to allow people to work from home, at least in part. For ten years there were repeated arguments why that would be impossible from technical, procedural and compliance perspectives. Thus, nothing happened.
Once Germany went into the first lockdown in March 2020, within 48(!) hours 7000 people in that bank were allowed and equipped to work from home. No major problems occurred. So, the reason why work from home was impossible in the past was never a technical one in the first place. It was a cultural one. People could not and did not want to imagine that it was possible.
As a coach, facilitator and consultant, I regularly interact with larger groups from my clients. In the past these interactions were 95% on site and face to face.Doing this virtually was not even considered an option. I facilitated numerous strategy workshops where people were flown in from all over the world just to participate in a two-day session. Now, the majority of my work happens virtually, with me located in Taipei and my customer groups just anywhere in the world. This happens with all customers except for the ones in Taiwan. They want things on-site “because virtual doesn’t really work for this kind of situation”. The same arguments came from European companies until March 2020.
These are just two examples out of many of how the pandemic is rapidly speeding up developments in the working world just because people are forced to try it. The crisis brought them to a point where they had to realize that their way of thinking would not help them anymore. Once the pandemic is over, there will be a situation where organizations can deliberately choose the best of both worlds depending on what seems more appropriate.
Because of Taiwan’s excellent management of the pandemic, Taiwan is in a special situation.
On the one hand people enjoy a life without many restrictions, on the other hand it might affect Taiwan adapting and capturing important work developments that are currently forming in the rest of the world.
New work vs. old work
Not everything is related or affected by the pandemic. There are other developments happening elsewhere that Taiwan currently still is pretty unaffected by.