What will life after the pandemic look like?
The world is in the grip of COVID-19. In many states in the U.S., like in numerous countries around the world, people are being encouraged to practice social distancing, as well as to self-quarantine if they’ve been in contact with someone with the virus. Hospitals in major hubs are overwhelmed. Schools are making the shift to online education. Non-essential businesses are closed, and employees who can work from home are doing so. And while we try to navigate this new normal, many of us are wondering what life will look like after the coronavirus.
To begin to answer this question, it’s helpful to look at other countries that are beginning to recover from the virus. Statista reports that in Singapore:
- 36 percent of people said their day-to-day lifestyle had changed
- 30 percent stated their working lives had changed
- 34 percent said their family lives had changed
Of course, with the risk of infection still present, people have to remain careful. But how will things like home life, work, education, and healthcare be impacted when the threat is over? While it’s impossible to predict anything with certainty, here are some points to consider.
The shut-in economy
Medium reports that with people practicing social distancing, services for people who don’t want to—or can’t—leave their homes are likely to explode. This so-called “shut-in economy” may thrive as more people continue to work from home and choose to connect with friends and family online instead of in person.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2017 and 2018, 25 percent of employees worked from home. Virtual work has advantages for businesses because it slashes their overhead and helps promote their employer brands as socially and environmentally conscious. Employees benefit because they no longer have to commute, which saves time and money.
Due to the benefits of virtual work, many companies that make the shift to this workstyle during the outbreak are likely to consider maintaining it. However, it remains to be seen whether or not virtual work will negatively impact workers’ productivity, creativity, and happiness in the long run—and that will ultimately drive businesses’ policies about working from home.
Educational institutes that have established online learning platforms might integrate them into their normal curricula. However, because the educational experience is often as much about learning how to function in a social or professional setting as it is about acquiring knowledge and skills, it’s unlikely that schools will make a permanent and complete shift to distance learning.
Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the healthcare industry is under pressure to respond quickly and at a massive scale. And once the infrastructure is in place to deal effectively with a pandemic, it’s to be expected that the government and the healthcare sector will maintain it in order to be able to respond quickly and effectively to any future threats.
When will the coronavirus epidemic be over?
Leading infectious disease experts at Imperial College London recently published a study on the impact of the coronavirus. They predict that the U.S. will need to establish rolling periods of social distancing, along with school closures and self-quarantining, for the next 18 months or more. This will only end when a vaccine is approved, and the spread of the virus can effectively be stopped. So for now, it’s recommended to find ways to work and live with social distancing that allow you to lead a happy, fulfilling life.
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