Back in early March, my wife and I were having a conversation about the individuals that were being quarantine on a cruise ship, saying to ourselves “I wonder if anything like that would happen here?”. I recalled the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that a virus, referred to as Covid-19, had minimal risk of turning into a pandemic but they would continue to monitor the situation in China and Spain. Fast forward to mid-April, the entire world is on ‘lock down’, quarantined in their homes, tens of thousands have died across the world from this deadly virus that now WHO has acknowledged it as a “pandemic.” The stock market has seen historical swings, and unprecedented losses not seen since the Great Depression. Individuals have lost their jobs, unable to make ends meet and don’t know if they’ll ever be able to return to them. The negative impact from this virus just continues to fall like dominos and the frightening part is that there is no immediate end in sight.
How will the world look once we reach the other side? Will the term ‘social distancing’ still be high in our vocabulary? What will be the factors that now define World 2.0? If we had a crystal ball maybe we would have those answers, but we don’t! We do, however know, that certain things will change. The fact that families, businesses, and the government are now working virtually, challenges the old paradigm of being present to be productive. The concept of having the “corner office” may no longer be the career status that one strives for in the corporate world.
Despite all the negative news that currently occupies over 75% of what we’re hearing daily, we have a history of being resilient. New technologies, companies, and even industries will be formed from the gaps that we didn’t even know existed. This also requires new regulations and governance structures that allows more of a virtual environment. The need for physical space, office and retail, comes into question. The demand for grocery deliveries has increased significantly due our reservation and also currently required by law to minimize travel for only essential activities. This change in behavior will not go away overnight.
Take for example the hospitality industry, prior to the major Covid-19 outbreak, going out to a nice restaurant, seeing a show, or going to a sporting event was a normal outing for many. Now, those activities are all in question because people are concerned about their health. This does not mean that we will remain isolated in our homes even after the pandemic is over, but we will question our social behaviors post-pandemic?
For businesses, that means more of ‘how do we continue to be productive, socialize, and grow as a business limiting our physical actions?’ Of course, we don’t have those answers today, but World 2.0 begins the transformation and paradigm shift for tomorrow. As technology advances, will service workers be replaced by automation or will autonomous vehicles serve as the alternatives to the friendly conversation that you have with your Uber driver as you are shuttled to your destination? These are the type of questions and scenarios that have accelerated those discussions from the fallout of Covid-19. The good news is that with those changes, new professions and industries will be born.
Our country has proven to be resilient. We will get through this and hopefully come out better than before. Will life as we know it be the same as in 2019, absolutely not! The new normal will be different, because we evolve, adapt, and create new beginnings. After 9/11 some thought that we would not recover, but we did and life continued. Unfortunately, the process for some were extremely painful, lives were loss, and some families went without the financial securities. However, we as a country made it through those challenging times to see better days. Better days are due in World 2.0.
Marcellous P. Frye Jr.