What Might the New Normal Look Like After Coronavirus?

The coronavirus put a spotlight on how unprepared society was for an outbreak of a disease that has no vaccine. There have been scares before, like ebola, or the common flu that seems to grow stronger each year. But ebola wound up being contained, and for many people, the flu is just a part of the winter season – there are flu shots, too, which may help ease people’s concerns, even if it isn’t 100% effective.

So what comes after a potential coronavirus vaccine, or we reach herd immunity by spreading the disease long enough? 

Here are a few possibilities.

For Individuals

The inequality between classes had been an increasing concern before coronavirus, but now, those differences have reached a straining point. According to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, 40% of families earning less than $40,000 a year lost their job in March following lockdown, highlighting a disparity between those who had the luxury of working from home and in industries that were more economically buffered to economic instability.

Many service industry workers found themselves unemployed, even if they put in years of hard work and dedication to their jobs. That is the nature of the service industry, despite all of our reliance on it to keep our lives running. 

Families living off so little money were already strained, both financially and medically. What makes things more challenging is that government safety nets, such as unemployment, buckled under the sudden demand for help.

This raises the question of how we see and treat those who are in these industries or less well off. People in the service industry were put most at risk because they had no other choice than to work. If those people got sick, they had to have quarantines for 14 days. Divesting more tax dollars to these social programs or healthcare may be one area where we see greater change.

For Businesses

Many businesses will reopen their offices with desks further apart or areas taped off to keep people moving in one direction. Other businesses will transition to a full or part-time remote workforce to help reduce the number of people in the office at any given time.

For people living in small homes or apartments, those with roommates, or individuals who suffer from loneliness while at home and not surrounded by coworkers, things will be difficult. If you live in a space without a dedicated work area, working efficiently or comfortably will be a challenge.

Businesses will have to account for this and figure out a way to make accommodations or rent workspaces in different buildings to give people the option to go somewhere else to work if the main office is at capacity.

Finally, hygiene will likely be given greater importance. While hygiene and dress codes have always been part of the office, regular handwashing, outdoor time, or encouraging healthy habits through diet and exercise may also gain importance.

For Dining and Entertainment

Many cities have now blocked off roadways and opened them to pedestrian traffic, dining, and more opportunities for people to socially distance or meet in small groups without interacting with a large number of people. This will likely be the norm for a while. However, the push towards car-free cities is growing.

Workers in all professions will still have to wear masks. The fashion industry is already taking advantage of masks and is turning it into a fashion statement.

Many restaurants and small businesses will continue to shudder. In their place, new businesses may rise. Artists are looking online to connect with fans and earn money, possibly leading to more independent artists that operate without managers or giving up ownership of projects or sharing royalties. 

One thing that won’t change is that many buildings were designed for a set purpose and can’t be easily altered to make social distancing easier. Restaurants need to fill a specific capacity to remain profitable. The same goes for theaters that can’t permanently reduce capacity to half, which may lead to a faster shift towards streaming and the theaters becoming an entirely different experience. Airplanes, buses, subways, and other transportation methods will struggle to adapt.

By mid-2021, we may have a better idea of what the future will look like and whether things will change as much as we think. A lot of businesses, people, and politicians are eager for a return to the status quo. Hopefully, no matter what happens, we see a lot of new and fantastic innovation that drives positive change.