What’s a Post-Covid-19 World Like?
Life before Covid-19 is over. What will replace it?
Experts weigh in on the possible scenarios in a post-Covid-19 future, specifically in the next 18 months. The World Economic Forum (WEF) says “no area from the economy to the environment is untouched”.
The world is already experiencing some forms of economic impact. You’re probably adjusting to personal lifestyle changes yourself.
It’s just a taste of what’s to come. We may have to get used to gathering our resources and preparing for a different “normal”. This adaptation requires us to know what we’re up against.
Here are some of the risks, as reported by WEF:
“We Have No Choice”
Like the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, Covid-19 has shuttered businesses, schools, and theaters. The government has urged people to wear masks in public – but some have refused to do so.
Most states that have reopened or are reopening retail stores, gyms, restaurants, and other establishments are planning to close again as the count rises.
A pause or reversal means another disruption of the American economy. But dampened consumer spending and business investment could be its path for the next 10 years, not just the months to follow.
Arising health measures could also hurt the financial sector in particular. For instance, a growing list of states now mandates mask-wearing: on the train, in the office, in the supermarket. But regulators fear that “face masks could lead to more bank robberies”.
Such concerns come at the heel of a recommendation by Ben Cowling, the head of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health. According to him and fellow experts, we have to wear masks for a long time.
Public health issues take precedent here. Risk analysts surveyed by WEF ranked another disease outbreak as one of the top risks for the world right now. But more than half of them also recognized the economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re already in the throes of a prolonged global recession and high unemployment.
It may take a coordinated effort among countries to survive a recession. But between consumers and retailers, we have enough coping strategies to explore. Social distancing has forced consumers to abandon regular shopping habits. Health and safety expectations have driven businesses to seek new models of operating:
- Retailers can shift online; and
- Home milk delivery and drive-in theaters can be revived.
Emerging Work Trends
The future of work has been one of the common topics during this crisis. Many of us have been asked to stay at home, and it’s likely to stay that way.
A recent Gartner poll saw a likely increase among employees working from home. From 30% before the Covid-19 pandemic, 48% are now expecting to do at least part-time remote work afterward.
For those who’ll return to office life, you may be asked to follow strict workplace protocols. The conference room may no longer be full, the watercooler area may be silent and empty, and the individuals walking down the hallway are dressed in PPE (personal protective equipment).
More factors have to be considered, but these two scenarios show how companies and teams need to step up.
In the home-based setup, employers may look into increased employee and productivity tracking. Yet, the situation itself can prevent them from copping out of their responsibility to worker engagement and wellbeing.
The use of technology becomes central to these efforts. And that requires an added layer of oversight to avoid breakdown of IT (information technology) infrastructure and networks.
If the organization demands people to return to buildings, factories, plants, and the like, the employers have a duty to maintain a Covid-19-free work environment. Addressing this concern in an efficient, systematic manner can help relieve anxieties, not to mention the real danger of contracting the virus.
A violation of this standard of care allows you to file for Covid-19 damages against your employer.
Preparing for Future Outbreaks
Lastly, experts also say that our biggest chance of returning at least to a semblance of what we knew as “normal” is the creation of a vaccine. Until then, the virus will keep on clinging onto hosts and infect them.
In April, Michael Osterholm and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota published three potential scenarios of future outbreaks:
- 1st Scenario: Smaller outbreaks come in mini-waves, with intervals that show only a few cases.
- 2nd Scenario: A second wave, which can affect twice as many people and last longer, will follow the first outbreak.
- 3rd Scenario: Covid-19 outbreaks will continue until 2022.
As the US hit the three-million-case mark this month, the spread of Covid-19 and death rate seem to reflect Scenario 2.
The message from Osterholm and team has always boiled down to preparation. But without a vaccine, the only likely way to contain the virus is for half of the world’s population to be infected and build immunity.
Embracing Long-Term Changes
For a great number of people, the whole crisis has been about changes in their general lifestyle. Based on US data collected by Statista, the majority have adopted best practices to keep themselves safe from the novel coronavirus disease.
About 77% started staying at home more while 73% have relied on their hand-washing habit. More than half resorted to online shopping. Around the same percentage of respondents travelled less or cancelled plans with family or friends.
Changes to the General Lifestyle Due to COVID-19
in the United States 2020
|Stayed at home more||77%|
|Washed hands more||73%|
|Applied social distancing||69%|
|Wear protective face masks outside||66%|
|Avoided public places like bars and restaurants||65%|
|Gone to the shops less||62%|
|Cancelled plans with family or friends||53%|
|Shopped online more||52%|
|Cleaned your house more||43%|
The present is a lot to process. Yet, embracing personal lifestyle changes, listening to science, and working together to fight Covid-19 are not absolutely new approaches to ensuring we heal in the future.
With the pandemic projected to die down two years from now, we have a lot on our plate.
But we’ve become better at keeping ourselves out of harm’s way since the Black Death and the Spanish flu. We can navigate these challenges once more with a conscious and determined effort.
Let us all stay safe!