Right now we’re in the middle of a historic, global event. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed things forever across the board, from the economy and healthcare practices to social and cultural trends.
In many ways, this is a first for the 21st century. While there have been deadly viruses in recent decades, they were not nearly as infectious and widespread as this one. The last virus that really compares is the Spanish Flu of 1918, which shares a number of similarities in terms of the way it spread.
We’re still in the middle of this disaster and so there are a million moving parts that will affect how it all plays out, but just from what we already know, it is clear the COVID-19 pandemic will dramatically affect our lives moving forward.
The following is a list of the ways the coronavirus of 2020 will have wide-reaching ramifications:
We were already seeing a trend in the workplace in terms of the automation and virtualization of processes, ranging from customized package management to artificial intelligence supervision. However, the assignment of a parcel locker to a full-time employee becomes challenging when that employee is working remotely. And this is just one example of how many different employee processes and procedures just got thrown out the window. A myriad of workplace management issues is now in question.
This just scratches the surface of how offices will change in the aftermath of the pandemic. We could see a major influx of contingent workers and non-standard work models that essentially revolutionizes the modern workplace. Some economic analysts believe there will be a rise in talent-sharing partnerships and nationalized companies with complex organizations and new models of performance management.
In other words, this could be the beginning of a radically different workplace and corporate culture. But in the meantime, a large index of various industries and markets will be thrown into turmoil as we evolve.
Remote Working and Virtual Meetings
One of the other major workplace trends resulting from the pandemic will almost assuredly be an exponential rise in remote workers and virtual conferences. This was already a big trend in recent years, as online streaming platforms like Skype, Zoom, and others have made it possible for employees to conduct interviews, meetings, conferences, and other sessions remotely.
In an age in which companies are trying to keep their employees safe, reduce liability, and run operations at peak performance, remote working and virtual meetings are expected to surge.
But how will this affect commercial real estate? If companies don’t need buildings for employees, that will dramatically reshape the real estate market. And how will a huge increase in remote employee interactions affect company culture and teamwork morale? We just don’t know yet how mass remote employment will change business models.
America has never been a place in which you routinely saw people walking around with masks on but it certainly is now and is likely to be for a while. It’s going to take time to find a vaccine for COVID-19 and even then, the pandemic will continue to spread due to relaxed public attitudes regarding vaccines and weak herd immunity.
It’s quite possible the danger presented by this pandemic will continue for years, which will inundate our society in mask-wearing for some time to come. How will this affect our society’s culture, not to mention economic markets like movie theater chains and other social vectors?
Biological surveillance and increased awareness
The pandemic will do for biological surveillance what 9/11 did for law enforcement surveillance. There will be new funding into and efforts to track and trace viruses. Biosurveillance has existed for a while but because of COVID-19, it is almost a certainty that we will see a vast expansion of its infrastructure, which brings with it a whole constellation of ethical questions and policy debates.
For example, contract tracing may help with studying the spread of a virus, but is it an unconstitutional intrusion into civil liberties? This is the kind of question we will be debating for years into the future and there are no easy answers.