Eventually this pandemic will end. The big question that still can’t be answered quite yet is actually when. But it will end.
So what will our lives look like after this? What will our “new normal” be?
We can’t expect to go through something as significant as COVID-19 and think our lives will simply bounce back to the way it was once it’s over. Too many people’s lives have been impacted for that to happen.
Either through social isolation, being an essential worker, dealing with the COVID-19 disease personally or through a loved one, or separation from friends and family this situation will have changed us. No matter what bucket we may fall into, a global life event like this does not leave us or our society unmarked.
So, given I’ve been socially isolating with some excess time on my hands to think, here is where I predict we may see some changes at the end of this pandemic;
Reprioritization Of Our Families and Friends
“Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.” – Paul Pearsall
With families being quarantined together, we can’t help but get to know each other better. We have been forced into learning more about each other. What we like, what we don’t like. What is important to us and what isn’t. Our personalities have been laid open for everyone in the household to see. Everything from what we think is funny, to how we manage stress to what we like to eat to even our daily habits have all been in full display for the whole family to witness over an extended period of time.
Sure this situation has been stressful. It’s stretched our family relationships well beyond their normal boundaries. But it’s also caused us to rethink who is really important in our lives.
When times are tough, the first thing you want is your loved ones around you. They comfort us, they help us feel secure, they make us not feel alone in this world.
This pandemic has done this. It has not only forced us to want to be together it has physically pushed us together and in isolation from the rest of the world. It has forced us to the core of what is really important.
I think people will begin to rethink what their family and friends mean to them and reprioritize their importance in our lives.
I would not be surprised for people to begin to object to how much time they have to spend away from their families at work and insist that their work hours become better balanced in order to ensure that they protect and prioritize their family.
Of course, relationships that may have had some cracks will break from this experience. But I believe that many relationships will come out stronger. We will have discovered how much we mean to each other as we supported each other through this time in our lives. We will know who are real friends are as we reached out to them and they reached out to us beyond our usual casual transactions to check on each other and our well being.
Workforce Recognition Of Value
As we moved through this pandemic, we discovered what roles were truly important to our health and well being.
The health care workers, the grocery store and pharmacy workers, the people who grow and deliver our food, the caregivers, the individuals who worked in the restaurants to ensure we had take out, the utility workers that make sure the lights stayed on and the paramedics, fire and police and this list just goes on. And yes, our government workers and politicians also played a significant role.
These were the people who stepped up to the plate when the crisis hit. They are the ones that continue to carry us through this pandemic.
What has also been uncovered and exposed through this crisis is that many of these workers are extremely underpaid.
In a article published by NBC News of the eight lowest paying jobs in America, these critical jobs that people did during the COVID-19 virus, 5 of them are on this list;
- Food preparation and serving
- Farm workers
- Personal and home care aides
I think we will rethink the value of these roles and hopefully raise them in both respect and pay. These are the people that we depended on and they delivered to provide for our most basic needs. At the end of this crisis, it’s the least we can do to thank them.
Reevaluate Our Consumerism
One thing you discover when you can’t go out and spend money is how little of it you really need in order to live. It can also surprise you in how little you really need to survive.
With the common home attire having been yoga pants or sweats and a t shirt or sweatshirt, you start to realize you don’t really need that new car, or those new shoes, or that expensive piece of jewellery.
The things you begin to appreciate returns to basics. A good meal, good company and a good place to live.
Once we are through this, I think we may see an initial spike in people going out but then a return to having more people into our homes for smaller and more intimate meals. I envision that we will change how we view food and the happiness and comfort it can bring. I think we will see a rise in people wanting to learn how to buy quality, organic products along with the ability to be able to serve a really good meal at home.
I can also envision home entertainment demands will increase. This COVID-19 pandemic has introduced us to how quickly germs can spread so I think the COVID-19 hangover will extend into our social lives. I anticipate that we will invite people into our homes in smaller groups rather then heading out to large social gatherings. The demand for more games, video streaming options, home comfort items and entertainment systems will increase.
As well our backyards will become outdoor entertainment hubs. The business of barb-b-ques, grills, outdoor fires and other items will increase further in demand.
We also will be more conscientious of the environment more as we make our purchases. We have seen the impact first hand of what happens when we decrease our manufacturing plants and clean up our rivers. We will be interested in supporting organizations that develop sustainable products that actively support environmental needs.
Flexible Work Options Will Be Demanded
Flexible work options have always been in demand. As reported in an article by USA Today;
“Seventy-seven percent of employees consider flexible work a major consideration in their job searches, according to Zenefits, which provides human resource software. And 30% have left a job because it didn’t provide flexible work options, a FlexJobs poll reveals.”
Now that organizations have been forced into flexible work options and employees have experienced this flexibility this will be hard to just simply flip back to the way things were.
Shifting hours to avoid rush hour traffic and a long commute, using technology for meetings, messaging and tracking projects, scheduling your work day around personal life events are all things that have been forced onto the work environment.
Employers that may have been slow to accept or adapt these new flexible working realities will be pushed into a position to justify their reasons as to why they are not accepting them. They will need to change their management model of one of micro managing by observation to managing performance through a trust based model.
The Internet Will Be Classified As A Utility
Just like we all have electricity and running water, I envision that the internet will now be classified as a utility that needs to be available to all households.
As information was shared and spread across the internet, those that did not have it were left out. The ability to connect with family and friends through technology, have access to the latest information, bank online, apply for government programs plus a host of other things were all driven through the internet.
For those that do not have this access placed them at a terrible disadvantage. Older people, marginalized people, people in very remote locations are all placed in a difficult situation.
I think the government will need to mandate that the internet and any necessary hardware will need to be declared a utility and a necessity for all citizens moving forward and provide programs to support this implementation.
So those are just a few of my thoughts on what may change at the end of this pandemic. Whatever happens, I don’t think we can come back from a global crisis like this without some serious thinking about what this all means and hopefully have learned some life lessons along the way.
Stay safe everyone.