At the time of this writing, many of us are still in the midst of a quarantine that could last, in some form, for several months. There still are more questions than answers. And that could be the situation for quite some time to come.
With such uncertainty, I wanted to make some key predictions on how our world will look when we come out on the other end.
Quarantine’s end will be gradual – and jagged.
Depending on where you live, you may be under some form of quarantine or work from home order. I have heard many say things like, “When this is all over…” or “When we come out of this…”
We talk about it like there will be a definitive end. And that makes sense, considering that most of the government orders have been for some specific time period. In Illinois, where I live, it started for a 2-week period. It was then extended to the end of May. Some states have opened up, with some form of restriction. There has been much debate throughout the world regarding when and how to lift the strict regulations. Many worry that opening things up completely will result in another, larger wave of COVID-19 cases.
There has been much talk about the research to find a vaccine and treatment. This is still in the early stages and most predictions are that a proven vaccine may be a year or more away.
We will not truly come out of the other end of this until a vaccine is readily available for anyone and everyone. So, we will continually ease our way back to work, testing our limits and backing off when necessary until a true cure is found and administered.
As we open up, we will probably start to see peaks in the number of cases and the number of fatalities. This will prompt states to reinstate restrictions. This uncertainty will of course, wreak havoc on our economy.
In the meantime, companies will realize that it is possible – and even necessary – to perform business remotely. The same conversations can take place over a video conference call as across a conference room table. As people become more accustom to it, it will become normal enough to do normal business.
Distance will be part of the new normal.
We have been hearing about pandemics all of our lives. And it has always turned out to be much ado about nothing. H1N1, SARS, and Ebola turned out to have a limited affect on our day-to-day activities, at least in the US. It was always something that took place in the movies, not real life.
Arguably, COVID-19 has had a greater impact on us than anything we have seen in generations. Greater loss of life than 911. Greater impact to the economy than the Great Recession or even the Great Depression.
The term “social distancing” was likely in the vernacular of very few when the year 2020 started. But now we work, play, shop, and exist from a distance.
For years, I worked from home while my wife joked that, as a teacher, she couldn’t work from home. Now we find that teachers – and many other occupations – actually can work from home.
It’s not the optimal solution. Part of going to school is the social aspect, being with friends, after school activities, sporting events, and simply chatting between classes. Many people are struggling through the lack of socialization, but everyone is figuring it out. As we return to normal, more people will seek ways to do what they must do remotely if it can be done effectively.
When we go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, we (most of us anyway) wear masks and practice the 6-foot social distance. This will continue to some degree. Why get unnecessarily too close to total strangers? Those of us who like our personal space will relish this one.
We will emerge smarter
Any time we face a challenge or setback, we generally learn from it. This will be no different. As experts work around the clock to find a cure, they will learn things that will be transferable to future challenges.
Now that we know the ease of contagion, I hope that every government and individual in the world is better prepared to deal with it early on, if this ever occurs again. Perhaps we will find cures faster for future illnesses and pandemics.
We will work better together. It will likely be more common for people to work remotely. If another pandemic hits, we will know how to have a smoother transition and continue down more of a business-as-usual road than we did this time.
A fair amount of the disruption to the economy occurred because companies were slow to adjust to a remote model. Even for organizations and individuals who go back to a full on-site model, we will have much greater experience in the remote model, allowing us to easily adjust.
We will get through this
Countless people will suffer, and many will die because of COVID-19. Millions of people have lost their jobs and struggle to pay the rent and feed their families. It has been devastating and will continue to be until we find a treatment to eradicate this virus.
When this is over – whatever that means – life will not be the same. Like going to war, we will all come home a little different. We will be changed people.
But most of us will come home. Someday, we will be able to socialize, to hug family and friends. While it’s clear that many businesses won’t make it through this, we will be able to continue our lives and dine at a restaurant someday.
Many of us will have lost loved ones without the traditional mourning process. Many of us will be permanently hurt financially. We will never be able to make up for missing the grandchildren, the missed weddings, funerals, graduations, proms, birthdays – name your milestone.
But we will come out of it. We will be stronger and wiser. And we will be better for it.
How do you see us post-COVID-19?
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.
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