Pay the Unacademy
When home work becomes the new normal
Some hope that the transition to e-learning will enable groups of the population to take courses that would otherwise not be open to them. E-learning also enables a more personalized learning experience so that different students get different experiences that will ultimately be more useful to them. In the UK, the transition to e-learning is seen as the first step towards a high-quality economy. The enlargement of the audience, however, was associated with initial difficulties. When millions of American school children returned to their desks with their laptops, they faced a number of technical glitches.
At the beginning of the lockdown, laptop communication was something new. Conference calls, check-ins, casual drinks and even meetings were held with the help of just a few service providers, and this quickly became apparent in their bottom line.
Zoom saw the use of its software thirty-fold in April alone, when people had to stay home. At its peak there were over 300 million meeting participants per day. Earlier this month, the financial ramifications of this boost became clear: the company reported that it had higher sales in the past three months than it had all of last year.
Zoom isn't the only company we've turned to, of course. The others include Houseparty, which became the chat app for meeting friends. As a result, the company was the number one app in 17 countries for a while.
Investors will now watch to see if these companies can keep their momentum as the pandemic ends and life returns to normal - albeit in a different form.
Departure for sunny climes
While the prognosis that people will work from home one day a week may seem conservative, there is also the other extreme. Namely the prognosis that people - often several times - will move to another country because of the pandemic. In recent years, more people have become digital nomads - who can settle down and work anywhere there is an internet connection. They can be seen in cafes and temporary workplaces around the globe, and a handsome industry has sprung up providing advice and services to people working abroad.
National governments have tried to capitalize on the rise of digital nomads in the hope that their housing and everyday needs would benefit their economies. Barbados, whose tourism industry is badly affected by the pandemic, has introduced a "Welcome Stamp". This special visa grants workers with an annual income of at least USD 50,000 a twelve month permit and an exemption from local income tax. Estonia has introduced a visa for digital nomads who work for a foreign company and earn well over EUR 3,500 a month.
For many, the pandemic has accelerated anticipated developments, including the increase in teleworking. Even if done as moderately as Reed Hastings expects, with only one day at home, the rise in teleworking will gradually affect industries such as e-learning and video conferencing. The idea of opening your laptop on a beach abroad has already grown stronger in recent years. The pandemic should give it a further boost.
Emissions may have decreased during the lockdown but are now trending back towards pre-pandemic levels. According to the United Nations, concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peaked this year and are still rising. The idea that people won't drive to work in one day may be welcome news to those concerned about the catastrophic effects of climate change. Compared to the dramatic emissions reductions required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, however, this is only a drop in the bucket.
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