Nobody can say with certainty when the current COVID-19 crisis will be over. What is certain is that we will get through it and science will get on top of the virus, making it irrelevant in the future.
Imagine a world six months on from the point where we return to our “normal” lives, but what does the new normal look like?
From a people perspective
When everyone is able to move around and interact again, there will be a wave of street parties everywhere, people will engage with their neighbours like never before.
Local galas and other activities will increase. People will use local shops where they can for food and other things. As they look to source locally, milk rounds will increase. People will make time for each other as time and our use of it has been redefined.
Local pubs will be packed. In fact, all bars and restaurants will be very busy in the short-term. Local pubs will become the hub of communities again. This will diminish over time, but in the short-term, people will buy less beer from supermarkets and prefer to pay the premium to drink and eat out.
Families will rush to get together again and weekends will include a family gathering of some description, more so than before the crisis. People's use of leisure time will be more sedate and less rushed, where previously people felt bored quickly, they will appreciate time more and feel the need to fill it less.
In terms of politics
Future virus control will be high on the agenda and used as a political football. There will be a reversal of the recent trend to mistrust experts. Politicians will struggle to argue against facts and push a “post-truth” agenda. Scientists will be respected again and listened to more. The world will coordinate to make sure we are better prepared when this happens again.
Incumbent governments will struggle to convince the people of the economic realities of a post-COVID-19 world. Debts will have to be serviced and taxes, both corporate and individually, will have to increase. Wartime governments are rarely thanked in the aftermath. Austerity measures will return, probably not as severe as recently. These levels of debt will take 30 years to pay off.
Healthcare budgets will increase everywhere and universal healthcare will be implemented more widely around the world. However, international aid will be cut just when it’s needed the most, as developed economies look to service their own debts. Underdeveloped countries will suffer the most over the next decade.
People will inherently travel less for a period of time. Some governments will politize travel and the movement of people, so new restrictions will be put in place, especially where the virus lingers the longest. Relations between China and the US will not help.
From an economy perspective
The economy will rebound. There is no underlying reason for a massive recession, so it will bounce back quickly. However, lots of businesses will not make it through the crisis to the other side. Those that survive will see a boom of pent up demand in the economy. Tourism will boom as will all of the leisure industry. Weddings and family celebrations will massively increase.
Unemployment will be very high, possibly at 1980’s levels. This will be because sectors that were weak before the crisis will be weakened further on the other side, retail is an obvious example. However, there will be a lot of low paid jobs that will be filled by native workers as people struggle with travel restrictions. Fruit pickers as an example.
Home working is here to stay and the trend of will continue. Not all the time, but a bigger proportion of people's time will be spent working from home. Hot desking will actually be just that - instead of people claiming desks. People will work from home 1-2 days a week, but they'll still feel the need to interact physically with others. These technologies will be embedded within the enterprise and IT will lose a degree of control.
The move toward the cloud will accelerate, companies will want to get there quicker and be prepared when this happens again. CEOs will ask how do we prepare for this happening again in the next 12-24 months?
Companies will digitise everything and that push will be faster than ever before. Virtual car showrooms, online marketplaces for physical retailers will accelerate (even further than they were previously).
Employees will remember the companies that looked after them and acted well during the crisis, so the movement of people between jobs will decrease (for the short term). But, as the economies begin to boom, this will return to pre-crisis rates.
One hangover from the crisis will be “over-communication” between teams and people. The crisis has forced people to come together and this will be a trend that continues well into the future - well, for good companies that is.
The world will get through the crisis but real change will exist at the other side of it. Some good, some bad. This is my stab at what that new normal could look like.