Role of telecommuting in Pakistan during covid-19

Naina Mahesh

Telecommuting which is also known as working from home (WFH) or we can say that it is the act of completing work assignments from a location other than office via an internet or phone. It can help organizations in many ways such as during emergency situations, including a potential pandemic outbreak but of course, some jobs simply can’t be done at home. But the outbreak is accelerating the trend toward telecommuting, possibly for the long term. But this pandemic is forcing these investments in industries where telework is possible, with more people learning how to use remote technology.

As a result, we may see a more permanent shift toward telecommuting. The trend has steadily grown because of coronavirus. But being an isolated worker is not easy for employees to collaborate with each other. Covid-19 pandemics infects the global economy. International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that out of 188 million global labor force 5.3 million people might lose job (low scenario) to 24.7 million jobs (high scenario).

During the financial crisis 22 million people lost their job. However there is common belief about telecommuting that with the help of this employees can prove themselves. As Americans are being encouraged to work from home during the Coronavirus Outbreak. But what about those Wages and salaried workers and own account workers who are more vulnerable than the employer. They all have the strongest effect on their livelihood. If we safely say that one third of the non-agriculture employed labor force will be affected in case of one and half to two month’s lockdown of different cities.

It implies that around 5-6 million people will face job loss and 12-15 million people will experience significant decline in their incomes. Pakistan’s initial economic losses in different sectors of the country’s economy have been estimated at Rs1.3 trillion.

These losses are going to be incurred on account of drop in the GDP growth because of reduction in services sector, including airline business and others, FBR’s revenue loss, massive decline in imports, exports, reduction in remittances, disruption in food supplies and other fronts. And the main reason behind the loss of these business is that employees can’t work properly due to lockdown all over the world. Many firms, like Apple, Microsoft and Google, are following that advice. But remote work isn’t a best option for Pakistan.

“According to the Pakistan Telecommunica-tion Authority (PTA), there has been a 15% surge in internet usage since the lockdown came into effect on March 24 expanding social protection is crucial for ensuring inclusive growth. But the pandemic is forcing these investments in industries where telework is possible, with more people learning how to use remote technology. But still the problem is that Pakistan is still very back as compare to other countries in a form of technology.

However whether the technologies that enable telework, video conferencing, remote desktops etc., can scale to handle coronavirus related traffic and what we can do to ensure all workers must be able to take advantage of it. At the same time the following crisis also forces us to think whether teleworking is an optional idea or not or forces us to reconsider if there is a loss of value at all when we don’t work face to face.