10 Ways the World May Change After the Virus

Even though we’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I have hope and curiosity for the future. Today I thought I’d share a few predictions about what I think may permanently change in the aftermath of this crisis.

In no particular order:

  1. Division between those with COVID-19 antibodies and those without. This is a bit dystopian, but I think there is a slight possibility that those who have developed COVID-19 antibodies (either after recovering from the virus or being vaccinated) may be able to lead normal lives, while those without those antibodies might be a lot more restricted. I’m not sure how this oversight would happen, but it might happen on a private level. For example, Disney has said they might start taking peoples’ temperatures before they enter their amusement parks. I think we could see measures like that for tourism as well in places like New Zealand.
  2. Countries that acted early and effectively will have a significant, long-term economic advantage.. After any major war, certain countries leap forward industrially and economically over others. I think the same will happen after the coronavirus crisis. That isn’t to say that other countries might eventually thrive again too; I hope they do.
  3. Tourism and conventions may significantly decrease, but other innovations may arise. In a recent live chat with author and consultant Simon Sinek, a person from Barbados asked about what countries like theirs can do in times like these if they’re heavily dependent on tourism. Sinek replied that it’s a good time for those countries and areas to reinvent themselves so they’re not as reliant on one revenue stream. I’m not sure how these areas will innovate, but they don’t have much of a choice right now, so I look forward to seeing how they think outside of the box. Similarly, companies that rely heavily on conventions will find new ways of reaching customers.
  4. People who sold stocks at the worst times will deeply regret it. I don’t think the stock market will rebound tomorrow, next week, or next month. But as history shows, it will eventually recover, and I think those who reacted and sold short will regret it.
  5. Some schools and workplaces may forever remain remote (but not K-12 schools). I think colleges and businesses are now seeing that learning and working from home is just as viable as in person. However, I don’t think that’s the case for primary education, as schools are so much more than educating platforms: They take care of children during the day when many parents aren’t available.
  6. People will be healthier. We’re learning on a wide scale to do easy things to prevent the spread of disease (like wash your hands and don’t touch your face), and I think we’re going to carry over those habits into our normal lives. Also, we may be coming into contact with other humans a little less than before, which I think will decrease the spread of all types of diseases and bacteria.
  7. Entertainment industries will pivot in unprecedented ways. Lots to cover here. First, movies. I think most movie theaters will survive, and people will continue to go to the movies. But I think we’ll see more movies available for home viewing at the same time as in the theater, so the home theater industry may boom. I think we may also see the film and TV industry approach how they produce content: Potentially fewer people on set, less travel, and more seclusion during production. As for sports, I think we’ll see Esports continue to rise. I’m not sure about college and professional sports, though. I think they will eventually return to stadiums, but those stadiums may contain a lot fewer people than before. Is it possible that stadium seats may be replaced by screens showing fans watching from home, audio on so the players can both see and hear them? Also, I wonder if more people are introducing themselves to tabletop and digital games right now, leading to potential exponential growth for those industries.
  8. Greater reliance on delivery and local pickup, less focus on hospitality. I think this is somewhat of a no-brainer, but it’s not just about Amazon. In forcing small local businesses to rely less on foot traffic, I think this challenge will actually make those businesses much more competitive in a world that has been moving towards delivery for years now.
  9. The environment will improve…and then it won’t. You’ve probably seen some of the photos of clean, clear air in cities that are notoriously polluted. That’s great. But a few months of clean air aren’t going to solve the environmental crisis. With the huge drop in oil prices, I’m concerned that people who may have been considering more environmentally friendly cars may just go for the cheaper, gas-guzzling alternatives. Mother Earth won’t be happy about that.
  10. Some expected (and some unexpected) businesses will thrive. Zoom is the obvious pick here, but I think we’ll also see a permanent increase in contactless surfaces–I never thought much about Apple Pay, but now I’d greatly prefer to use it than touching a tablet at checkout. I’ve also heard that home cleaning services are doing very well, and I think people could get hooked on them for the long term.

These are mostly hopeful theories about what the future will hold, though I think we face a lot of uncertainty, a lot of which depends on how long people are not comfortable or able with convening and sharing space with other people. There are so many people out of work right now, and so many people changing how they’re saving/spending money. Whatever happens, I think the world will be a very different place.

What do you think? What are some of your predictions about how the world will change? In the meantime, I hope you’re safe and healthy, and that you’re looking out for other peoples’ health just as much as your own.

8 thoughts on “10 Ways the World May Change After the Virus”

  1. Jamey,

    Sadly, as an analyst, it was quite easy to predict certain likely outcomes…oil does no good sitting in the Middle East, which is why so much was dumped on the market driving the price to $5 a barrel. As to other more everyday predictions, I see many small businesses, especially restaurants and mom-and-pop shops, having to cater more personally to those in their neighborhood or they will shutter their doors forever. I personally think that the handshake may fall out of favor and we may find a different social custom to accommodate a greeting. As it can only take as short as 6-8 weeks to institute a new habit, I’m heartened by what I’m seeing on a day-to-day basis.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Reply
      • Jamey,

        During (and after) the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed 100M worldwide, and nearly 700K in the U.S., social and cultural norms changed.

        In particular, social distancing lasted for months, and reverberated in some ways to today. As a point of comparison, picking on my home town and where you now live, St. Louis did a remarkable job keeping the death toll low, while Philadelphia was devastated by the 1918 outbreak.

        Cheers,
        Joe

        Reply
  2. A study has found that 2 months of decreased air pollution in China due to the shut down, has dropped the levels of PM2.5, the particulate matter considered the primary cause death from air pollution. This decrease has saved the lives of tens of thousands of the very young, and the elderly, at least 20 times the number that have died in China to the corona virus.

    I would be interested to hear of similar investigation into a western city like Los Angeles. My prediction, like yours, is that this will have no effect at all. People are dumb. They will have to have the climate apocalypse directly mess with their lives before they will change.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2020/03/16/coronavirus-lockdown-may-have-saved-77000-lives-in-china-just-from-pollution-reduction/#2d3d497a34fe

    Reply
  3. I’m not sure how housecleaning businesses are booming during shelter in place. I, for now, am paying my housecleaner her normal pay because I can. However, she is not allowed to come to my house until the shelter-in-place is over with! Yesterday I got an email from work saying they’re beginning the budget-cutting process (read: hiring freeze and layoffs) so I don’t know if I’ll even have a job next month. (I work for city government.)

    Last time they did layoffs, it was due to issues specific to my city where many people fled to get employed by surrounding cities. This time, every city is affected, so there’s nowhere to run. Thankfully, I have enough money to survive for awhile – hopefully til I get reinstated or get a new job elsewhere. I won’t be able to afford COBRA for too long, so I’ll need to get something in place ASAP.

    I think a big thing coming from this is that now we’ve proven beyond a doubt that most jobs CAN be largely done from home, and most meetings CAN be held over the phone or in a teleconference with shared documents. Why MUST we go to the office and sit in the same room to get things done? I hope that we’re allowed that kind of flexibility to continue when all this is over. I am not looking forward to having to spend more than an hour in my car traveling to/from work in traffic every day.

    Reply
  4. I get busy and lose touch with the game world for a little while and next thing I know you are chatting With SS! It makes sense, however… you two align very well. So I guess I’m going to watch that chat now rather than cook dinner lol!

    Reply
    • Well, I guess I skim read THAT wrong hahaha… but you really should connect with him if you haven’t.

      Reply

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