Are you the global best?

During a discussion on one of the webinars, Jessie Paul the host mentioned that for certain sectors like education, fitness, and wellness you expose yourselves to global competition the moment you say that you will transition from offline space to online space. This is interesting and was brought about by a news article on CultFit wanting to start charging for online classes and also close several of the centers (mostly in tier-2 cities). This got me thinking about the implication of this for several of the services and also on the job market.

Physical experience not easy to replicate online.

COVID-19 by moving the classes onlineAs you may have heard many of the educational institutions have been promoting their biggest competition as a response to the COVID-19 by moving the classes online. Most are just taking what they are doing offline and moving it online. By doing so these services are exposing themselves to easy comparison with other models like Udemy ( MOOCs). Never in history do users have had a way to compare the experience of going to an expensive course at a really good (highly rated institution)  and that of a highly rated MOOC course with the same subjects. I think the comparison will reveal that the institution will fall short of the MOOC course because the MOOCs have been working at it for long. They have a bigger set of learnings to fall back while education institutions will need to adapt. It is almost like asking an auto driver to take part in an F1 race without giving him time to explore. Without the experience of networking and building relationships inside the campus, the institutions will soon start finding that they cannot charge the premium fees. It is said that the tuition fees in the US have gone up from 1400% in the last 30 years(dont have an Indian benchmark but would be quite similar or even higher). Please note that I still feel the Ivy league institutes will retain their value and still be as coveted as before but for institutions below that students will seriously evaluate the MOOCs and other hybrid alternatives. This trend will also be supported by the tailwind of many companies preferring not to give importance to the degrees during the recruitment process. With this trend, people will start gravitating towards the global best alternatives to regular schools.

If you consider the fitness industry this is a bit more complicated as it is harder to replace the physical experience of visiting a gym and the experience of working with a trainer. The moment they say we are moving online it means that soon they are exposing themselves to 100s of other companies who offer app-based workouts which one can do inside the home. In both the industries it becomes clear that once we start exploring online-only alternatives the current players will be exposed to global players. If Curefit or your local college does not adapt and become the best in its sector. Otherwise, the writing is on the wall. The customers (in case of fitness) and students will move towards global best and if you are not one of them you will be doomed.

Global Workplace = Globe opportunity+ Competition

COVID-19 has thrown open the biggest experiment of having folks work from home

The COVID-19 has thrown open the biggest experiment of having folks work from home and this will have its implications. This WFH experiment will make us (& companies) realize that for many roles (may not be all ) we may be able to work pretty well using a mix of WFH and offline meetings (once in a quarter or even once in a month). This will mean that companies will realize that they are no longer constrained by their location to hire their workers. It would thus be possible that an employee can work in a tier-2 or tier-3 city and still be as effective as being based in a large metro. If we take this argument a bit further it will also mean that an employee can be based in any part of the world as long as he/she is able to take a flight (may sound odd now) and attend a quarterly off-site. What this means is that global jobs will become more efficient and allow many individuals to play the same arbitrage game which Infosys/TCS played in 2000-2019. But this also means that there will unprecedented competition for talent across the globe. If you are not the global best then you will soon be replaced by another worker from Bangladesh/ Vietnam. I also expect this to keep the costs under check.

In summary, for many industries and employees, the COVID-19 has opened up them to global competition and this will change them forever. If you dont invest in becoming the global best then you will soon be obsolete. This is valid for mid-career employees who thought they have to only aim to become the best in one country. It is no longer possible to remain the best in a country and yet command a premium salary.


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