We are indeed living in some of the most interesting times. There have been some events in the history of the human race that has changed the way we live, that is true, but these happenings took years to effect drastic changes. Wars raged on for years before affecting the entire world, whole continents used to be spared from medical pandemics. Now, COVID-19 has affected each and single country directly or indirectly. In a matter of weeks, the way we lived has changed. What is exciting and a bit scary is that months from now when we will eventually come out of our lockdowns and quarantines, there is a huge possibility that there will be no going back from the way we live only months ago.
The new normal as pundits have coined the period pos-COVID-19, will indeed be new and will be markedly different from how we used to do things in February. The COVD-19 pandemic is one for the history books – so devastatingly major that we humans may already define our lives as everything that happened pre-COVID and months from now, post-COVID. This can be both good and bad. The environment’s condition has improved, we now have a deeper appreciation for personal relationships, health has become a priority. But then, freedoms we used to take for granted such as mobility and assembly have been curtailed. The new normal does have pros and cons to it.
Our current lockdown situations are serving as a dry run for the major effects the COVID-19 will eventually impose on our lives after its reign. The question is, are you ready for this “new normal”? Here are some changes you need to be aware of now:
Commerce and the nature of work
Not only has this pandemic changed the nature of business and work, it has forced some of its facets to mature. COVID-19 has created a survival of the fittest scenario among commercial and work practices, and what remains will not only survive, but will compose what will be the “new normal.” And we realize that some of our pre-COVID habits are actually impractical and don’t make sense, so that’s good. After all, there’s really no need to constantly use the ATM and get cash, drive to a store to buy things, and use your cash to pay for your purchases when you can have anything delivered to your house. Why waste an hour of two to commute to work when you can finish everything at home and even extend your work hours for an hour or two?
So, perhaps the conversation that we should be having as a society isn’t about where we are going to work after the post-covid dust settles, it should be how we are going to work.
Healthcare gets the spotlight
Even before COVID-19 started wreaking havoc, the health sector has already been subject to huge structural pressures and undergoing rapid advances in technology. For one, the global population, particularly in Europe and East Asia is ageing, posing a major challenge to governments in ramping up efforts for elderly care and geriatric medicine. COVID-19 has been overwhelming healthcare facilities anew, not to mention presenting a new race for experts to produce a vaccine and medicine for it.
Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic, treating sick patients flooding hospitals. At the same time, the outbreak has brought to a halt many of the most lucrative parts of the industry, such as surgeries and procedures, threatening the financial futures of hospitals and leading to pay cuts and furloughs for workers.
What are your priorities and where does the money go?
So, what happens to caring for people with other medical conditions? How will medical professionals in fields outside virology and pulmonology deal for their patients? Will the private sector step up and handle what the government cannot? Finally, will everyone, including and especially the government, recalibrate their spending habits and prioritize healthcare over other expenditures like food, leisure, and entertainment (for individuals and families) and education and defense (for governments)?
Households worried about their health and finances will save more and spend less. Companies will be less efficient and less global as they rearrange supply lines and bring production back to the U.S. to improve resiliency rather than to cut costs. Government involvement in the economy will be greater as officials place a premium on domestic supplies of medical equipment and other products deemed essential.
What happens to travel?
If there’s any sector that will be most adversely affected, it’s travel and tourism. Business and leisure travelers have been singled out as the primary cause of the COVID-19 pandemic and air travel has long been criticized for its poor environmental effects. With businesses opting to use video conferencing instead of sending people overseas and physical distancing being a commandment of the new norm, flights will skyrocket in costs, even if oil prices are at an all-time low. Leisure companies that serve the lockdown market and eventually, those who are more keen staying at home, will be the only ones that will survive. Companies like Disney will have to find a way to invest in intangible services and away from brick-and-mortar assets that will continue to suffer losses in the foreseeable future.
Here, then, lies a bit of friction, and the Shanghai operations represent a bit of a microcosm of a larger issue. Disney’s earnings results this past quarter, as announced earlier in the week, showed the parks, experience and products segment at $5.5 billion in revenues, down 10 percent. That, of course, does not reflect the full impact from the pandemic. In the meantime, the company took a $1 billion hit to operating income due to the sales lost from the closures.
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