Life Post The COVID Era
Updated: May 17, 2020
In our previous blog, Physical (not Social) Distancing, we provided recommendations on how to spend your spare time during COVID-19. In this blog, we would like to focus on life post the pandemic. What transformative change would we like to see? and what can we forgo in the current state of affairs?
The blog will address eight life-style categories. I will give my personal view of what they might look like post the pandemic and what I would like to see happen.
1. Hygiene Standards
A silver lining from this pandemic is a conscious focus on hygiene. From a personal level such as frequent hand washing and use of sanitizers. To public hygiene standards, such as cleaning frequency and mandated hygiene codes.
I would like to see higher hygiene measures taken at the entrances of public venues, for instance:
- Sanitizing mats to clean the soles of shoes
- Sanitizing sprays or UV light to kill bacteria on clothing and external surfaces
- Hand sanitizing dispensers at entrances and exits
The above measures are not invasive, some are currently in place. Airlines, for instance, are taking more evasive actions to sanitize planes before take-off.
2. Restaurants, Bars & Movie Theaters
We all miss our outdoor social experiences, this puts greater pressure on restaurants, bars and theaters to make changes to their operations.
I predict restaurants will replace big open spaces with sectioned private dining rooms. Customers can enjoy intimate dining experience with those they know and trust. And for a premium experience, each private dinning group can have a dedicated butler.
At the end of the private dining experience, the room is disinfected, and butlers are rotated. The same measures can be replicated for bars and pubs. For more creative and fun ideas, checkout this German café:
As for movie theaters, how relaxing would it be to enjoy the big screen with your significant other or date, while snuggling in your own cubical? Customers can reserve bigger cubicles or upgrade to mini movie-rooms for a larger group of friends. The entire experience, and subsequent pricing, would need to be revamped accordingly. It will be both safe and niche experience.
3. Public Events
According to a poll conducted by FiveThirtyEight, in partnership with a market research firm Ipsos, sport fans are 57.6% “not at all likely” to attend a sporting game or event when government restrictions are lifted. Only 6.5% indicated they were “very likely” to attend a sports game, and a few in-between responses.
Half of those surveyed stated they would be much more comfortable returning once a COVID-19 vaccine is found. The other half stated they would feel more comfortable if:
- People were required to wear masks,
- Kept six feet apart,
- They saw a decrease in number of cases,
- Sporting venues took temperature checks of all attendants as well as provide walkway direction in concourse and isles.
Based on the findings above, and the unlikelihood availability of a vaccine this year, public event organizers need to pivot to survive.
It is not unreasonable to expect people to wear medical devices indicating their level of health and/or potential for infection. It would also make sense to revise the capacity of such venues putting a cap on the number of attendees.
For those unwilling to follow the above measures, they can resort to virtual experiences rather than live events. The technology is currently available to enable such experiences through virtual reality.
Similar measures can apply to concerts, plays, exhibitions, amusement parks and other public events to create a safe entertainment environment.
4. Shopping Trends
Most big-item shopping has moved online, but shopping for personal goods is still a physical retail-based activity. COVID-19 is likely to change that.
Virtual Mirror Technology is not new, it is available for on-line shoppers as well as in-store shoppers. Apparel companies such as: Topshop, Timberland and American Apparel, have basic implementations of the technology to replace their fitting rooms.
I foresee further development in VM Technology giving shoppers a more realistic experience. Customers can upload their body measurements onto a mobile app to get a tailored fitting reflection. The personalized tailor experience can be made available on all apparel retail websites.
In-store shopping can be enjoyed by appointment to reduce number of shoppers in a confined store or mall. Any goods tried on during the in-store experience, or returned goods, will be subject to a mandated quarantine before being circulated back. Self-checkout will also be the norm to minimize unnecessary interactions.
In addition to remote-shopping technology, I predict a rise in personal stylists and fashionistas. The profession can create the demand, but they will need to acquire technical competencies as well as design skills.
5. Educational Institutes
Sadly, schools, colleges, universities and other education institutes are not likely to return to norm anytime soon. In fact, if you are about to start college, it might be sensible to skip a year to allow for adjustment to the new reality.
Of course, online learning is always available as an option and will continue to coexist. The “Boom of Zoom” and other video conferencing tools is expected to rise. Yet, we cannot rely solely on remote meeting platforms. We have to inject interactive exercises and group work through Virtual Reality technology.
6. Corporate Workplace
To all managers and leaders who believed employees could not be trusted to work from home, what say you now?
COVID-19 has proven greater trust and autonomy can be extended to employees without sacrificing on performance. The whole perception that remote workers are lazy is untrue. Organizations need to revise their hiring practices making sure they hire responsible and accountable candidates who bound themselves to high ethical codes.
According to a Gartner analysis, 48% of employees will work remotely after the pandemic, compared to 30% who worked remotely pre-pandemic.
Twitter has given its employees the option to work from home “forever”. Other organizations are contemplating similar working environments, or hybrid-remote arrangements at the very least. Considerations are being made to limit the number of employees in the office at any given time. This includes introducing the concept of “hoteling” where employees are required to reserve time to use the office space. Telecommuting and flex hours will also be common work options.
This is not to say the office environment will cease to exist all altogether. Clearly, not every industry can be expected to work remotely 100%. For professions requiring physical presence, a different workplace design is needed to reduce desk density. This will include generous spaces between desks as well as equipping work stations with transparent barriers to protect employees.
In addition to changing hiring practices, I predict revision in employment offers to include focus on mental wellness. Research already shows mental health assistance and telemedicine being offered as standard perks.
Now more than ever, organizations need to put bigger emphasis on the culture, norms and values they wish to embrace, and build foundations to enable such culture in the new reality. Subsequently, investment in leadership skills will be hyped up.
7. Emerging Technology
We have covered technology in the respective lifestyles we have mentioned thus far. There is great opportunity for innovation and automation as a result of COVID.
Mark Cuban floated the idea of having an App to track the turnover of tables in restaurants. Customers would like to know when their table was last cleaned. A similar idea can be replicated for movie theaters, hotel rooms and public seating events.
The potential for implementing personal-tracing software has raised questions on privacy. Nevertheless, governments, technology companies and international agencies are working on such measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before we willingly forgo some privacy (albeit superficial) to have a healthy and higher quality of life. So, let’s be open and watch this space!
8. Our Relationships
Perhaps the most important aspect of our lives is in the relationships we cultivate. This is a good time to reflect and purge unhealthy relationships to make room for genuine ones.
We all have superficial relationships. They might have served us in the past, but we cannot carry them into the future. It is time to let go of such relations and reach out to those we truly love, value and admire.
This has been the longest blog I have written, so thank you for sticking with me! You can see I have been doing a good amount of self-reflection!
In the words of John Gardner “History never looks like history when you are living through it”. I do not claim to have all the answers, no one does. I appreciate the future visions mentioned in this blog might not be ideal for everyone. I am merely encouraging you to tap into your creative side and let the innovation juices flow.
Whatever the future holds, I hope we shift our minds to look at possibilities for a state post the COVID era. This pandemic will not dictate our future, but it might guide us to a better version.