After COVID-19 Things Will Change
COVID-19, like many global crises and catastrophes bring change. Sometimes permanently, often temporarily. Change comes in both positive and negative garbs. But change never fails to force itself upon society in the aftermath of human events.
As we navigate this pandemic, it is apparent that things in its wake will change and society will both modify its behavior as well as suffers its consequences These are the changes that will come.
Death of the office cubicle
The primary reaction to the Coronavirus is self isolation or social distancing. Many companies have sent workers home to work from there. After the COVID-19 many companies will retain this labor model. These companies will understand that with a few tweaks and modifications they can create a home workforce that equals or rivals the production they get from in-office workers. Billions of square feet of office space will hit the market causing a crippling commercial real estate collapse. But many companies will save billions of dollars by not having to rent office space or associated costs for parking spaces, building security and custodial services. Millions of building maintenance jobs will also be lost.
Rise of the unions
Because of the work from home revolution there will be a rise in labor unions. Why? Because employees working from home will want to retain their pay and benefits. They will argue the only real change is the location where the labor takes place, not the fundamental or essential demands of the job. Labor unions will demand that companies provide either free or subsidized internet connectivity for home workers. Many companies will agree and even provide cyber security benefits such as VPN and high speed connectivity to protect their intellectual property. The cost will be less than the cost to do the same in an office space. Workers will also demand expanded medical benefits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will see hundreds of thousands of people die as a result little or no medical insurance. There will be a political backlash and a demand for government funded health care as a hedge against another pandemic.
The service industry will transform
The service industry will transform and expand at a revolutionary pace. Few restaurants will survive but those that do will be able to deliver its meals to your door rapidly along with cocktails and even provide such luxuries as table set up and waiters to serve the meal. We will see the rise of the home delivery sector to include groceries, even laundry will be sent out and delivered to your door. What ever you want will soon appear at your door. You will even be able to arrange private fashion shows in your home where models will arrive and you can see and feel the garments and shoes you are shopping for. Or a manufacturer's representative will arrive to demonstrate a product for you in your home.
Another industry that will change is medical care, doctors may not resume house calls but insurance companies will begin to focus more on health than sickness. Medical insurance providers will employ nurses and nurse practitioners that pay regular visits to the home of those they insure to provide things like quarterly physicals and provide advice and consultations to the sick. This system will also serve as an early warning system for possible spread of disease in local areas. It will also become a benefit of the job for home workers allowing companies to have a healthy workforce. Over the counter drugs and prescriptions can be ordered by the nurse and delivered to the patient at their home.
Because of COVID-19, schools will begin to learn, understand and maximize the potential of home schooling. Many school districts will adopt the concept of online classrooms even at the K-12 grade. This will result in the reduction of expenses such as classroom facilities, school buses and other support expenses. Scholastic sports will blossom as a way for children to interact and socialize. Most middle and high school students will only attend school in person once or twice a week for sports and other extra-curricular activities.
Another problem of the pubic school system has been the digital divide. The COVID-19 pandemic will help to close that gap because of the emphasis on distance learning. The electronic infrastructure of many local communities will greatly improve because of the work from home revolution. Schools will find that because of the savings from not having to operate school buses and maintain classrooms, they can provide poorer students with laptops and tablets for class. For profit K-12 education will emerge that will exasperate the issue of quality of education between the rich and the poor.
Right now people are learning things about their lives, health, employment, economy and education. Systems have adopted to the pandemic and the benefits will be retained and the consequences will be tolerated. Our economy will transform and new opportunities and jobs will arise from expanding and new industries. COVID-19 is a both a blessing and curse. We have to learn from our mistakes, take advantage of opportunities and focus on our future.