What to expect after COVID and how to prepare

Context

COVID-19

This post was published during Coronavirus outbreak in April 2020.

It is way too early to say what the future will be as a result of the coronavirus. And nobody can really predict how things will end up.

The situation we are experiencing now and what we will experience for the months and years to come has two layers - the economic layer and the coronavirus layer. We were expecting a downturn to hit us anyway. But the virus acted as a catalyst and added that second layer of how impactful this all is. 

The virus layer adds another dimension to what is happening and how we’re being impacted, in a broader sense. The situation is changing our habits, how we see the world, and how we plan our (unknown) future.  

People are forced to change their habits.

Elderly, used to make purchases in a traditional way, are now ordering online. The same group of people is learning how to use the most up to date technology - video calls, smartphone apps, computers and tablets. 

Banks and other institutions will need to quickly adapt from in-person services to help their customers use their services online. Online payments and online banking will replace cash and check payments. The way we do business will need to change. 

Gyms are closed, and we’re all forced to find new ways to work out from home. That will impact sales of home gym equipment and can accelerate the growth of new technologies that help us stay fit at home. Online fitness coaching space might be more critical than ever. 

The above are just a few examples and proof people and businesses will (need to) adapt. The forced shift in habits will result in a lot of companies going out of the market, and a lot of new empires emerge.

Companies are forced to allow work from home

All non-essential workers are now working from home, using virtual meetings. In the past, most companies needed employees to be present in the office. Reasons for that were to build in-person relationships and to control and monitor employees. Now businesses are forced to change their approach. My prediction is that companies will realize the effectiveness of work hasn’t decreased and that it really is not essential to be physically present at the office. That has an enormous influence on how work will be done in the future and how the employee-employer relationship will look like from so many angles. For example, fewer employees in the office means fewer people need to commute to meet in person. That means a “company car” benefit is no longer going to be valid. Fewer employees in the office also means no need for a big office, for a cafeteria, for a parking lot. That will impact fixed costs the employer has (no more company cars, cheaper office, or no office at all) and change how the benefits structure is built.

Future-proofing

The current situation sucks. We’re all stuck at home, and we are just not prepared to do that. Most of us don’t know how to cook (no, heating something from a can is not considered cooking). Our patterns of how we spend free time changed - no going out, no meeting with friends, no cinema or date nights. People will look for solutions on how to fix that for the months and the years to come. Just in case a situation like this happens again. People will want to be ready - to have the masks at home, to have sanitizers, to have tv big enough for their needs, to have patio furniture to spend more time outside. Some will even look into moving from condo to a house because they will rather have their piece of land to hang out with the family than being stuck indoors for weeks and months. 

All of this “future-proofing” will most likely create a surge in unusual purchasing behavior and everyone spending money on things they did not care about in the past. That also means that lots of people will want to learn the skills they lack now - like cooking or tech skills.

Economists usually can put a model together that will help deal with the economic crisis. Any crisis causes certain human behavior, and that behavior is taken into account by those models to assess the situation and choose the right stimulus packages. But this time, because we will experience the unusual, never-experienced-before behavior, those models might not work so well. 

Nobody knows what will change and to what degree. But one is certain - we need to learn to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances. There will come a time when you need to say goodbye to your career or business you’ve been building for years just because it is no longer needed. 

Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art
~ Maya Angelou

TAKEAWAYS

  1. 1
    ​The future is more unpredictable than ever
  2. 2
    Situation we're in now has never happened in the past. Nobody has the answers
  3. 3
    Adaptability is the most important skill

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