2020 started off like any other year. Many of us started working on our New Year’s resolutions, only to give up a few days or weeks into the year. After all, it’s easy to say you’re going to lose 20 pounds, but sweating your butt off and changing your diet to make it a reality is a whole different ball game.
Then came along Covid-19, the first worldwide pandemic since the Spanish Flu back in 1918. The results were not pretty. Some countries fared better than others. Taiwan, Thailand and Japan being three of them. Many European and South American nations and the US were not so lucky.
Our whole world got turned upside-down.
Tourism ground to a halt. The hotel industry was decimated. Restaurants were forced to turn into Uber Eats hubs. Entire cities became ghost towns. For lack of a better word, it was surreal.
Now, most countries have turned their economic engines on once again, though with masks and social distancing being required. The ramifications of this worldwide pandemic will last for months, if not years to come.
I turned 46 this year, so thankfully I was not in a very high-risk group. Two people I went to school with who were the same age sadly lost their battle with COVID. May they rest in peace.
What’s happened, happened. We can’t go back. All we can do is look to the future.
So, the question we all need to be asking ourselves is – what’s changed? And the follow-up question to that is – How can we use this information?
Well, a lot’s changed. We all know that. But let’s take a closer look at four ways Covid-19 has changed our society.
- Remote Work
This has to be the biggest one. Our world has gone from workers piling into cities like Tokyo, New York, Bangkok and London each day, to one where many workers can work from their own home. It was inevitable it would happen, but Covid-19 simply sped up the process. The impact of this on commercial real estate will change our business landscape forever. Pinterest just paid $89.5 million to get out of their lease in San Francisco, I wonder how many other companies will follow suit.
It should also be abundantly clear now that online business and remote work is the way forward. Brick-and-mortar businesses won’t disappear, but companies and entrepreneurs may need to rethink their business strategies moving forward and to ensure they are taking full advantage of online opportunities.
I, for one, am grateful that I was able to spend more time with my family. I know my wife feels the same way as do more than a few clients. I’d never had the time to help my son improve his reading in English as he was so busy with swimming (six times a week), Kumon (a sort of Japanese cram school), and Aikido on top of his regular Japanese school homework. Covid-19 gave me the opportunity I needed, and as of the time of writing this article, he is just two chapters away from finishing Harry Potter. Not bad considering we just started working on his reading five months ago.
For years, many parents have been passive; letting schools take care of educating their children. Covid-19 has forced parents to take an active role and for some, it’s been very revealing. Universities had a monopoly on higher education and some were charging ludicrous prices. Mark my word, things are about to change in a big way in this area.
Big cities have continued to grow thanks to the opportunities that existed in them and the sheer convenience they offered. Tokyo, New York City, New Delhi and Bangkok are perfect examples of this. Covid-19 has shined a light on the negative aspects of people living in such close quarters. People had to put up with smaller houses, worse pollution, heavy traffic and even higher levels of crime for access to better schools, a huge variety of restaurants, shops and, of course, work.
Safety is utmost in many people’s minds and I believe will play a major role in the US election this November. Businesses and schools able to offer clients peace of mind should do very well in the near future.
A client mentioned to me how un-sick people have been in the past few months. Schools were closed and masks abounded. The result is many common illnesses have struggled to get a foothold in society. Colds, the flu, and chickenpox are just a few of the diseases that thrive year in and year out, yet this year hasn’t been an issue. Even people and countries not known for having stellar health practices have changed almost overnight.