The effects of COVID-19 have permeated through many facets of our daily routines. From mobile grocery delivery to Zoom meetings with coworkers, friends and family, what other changes will the new normal bring? Did your company ever think working from home was an option? Contentious practices such as remote work, which have generated years of debate, hesitation, and opposition, have suddenly become possible seemingly overnight. The world has experienced years worth of changes in two short months. So what does the future look like?
No one can really predict what tomorrow will hold, but we can predict that some aspects of life won’t go back to the way they were. On a personal level, some of the things we may have to get used to include: one-way aisles at the grocery store, medical-grade face shields at the movie theatres, gloves and masks at the amusement park, robot cleaners and servers, cashless societies, and nose swabs and temperature readings at the airport. COVID-19 arrived in a world that was already trending towards working at home, online shopping, Door Dash, Uber Eats, Hulu and Netflix instead of going to malls, movie theatres, and restaurants. These options have only become more popular since the start of the pandemic.
However, although the virus has kept us physically separated, many people have gotten closer together virtually. Friends and families have taken to video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Teams to have get-togethers that respect social distancing. More effort has been put in to check on loved ones who must stay isolated. Some good has come from the situation, but many of us would like to have life go back to the way it was instead of a “new normal”.
The new “normal” depends on multiple unknowns. While the pandemic curve is flattening in parts of the country, it’s increasing in others. We still don’t know if we’re at the front, middle, or end of the wave. The majority of people can’t grasp that this isn’t over, despite the “happy talk”. The fact remains that people won’t emerge from lockdown suddenly immune. and many of us remain susceptible.
We can be certain that when things will start to open, whenever that may be, we will need to loosen the faucet gradually rather than rip open the floodgates all at once and risk an explosion of new cases. Group gatherings will be capped to a certain amount of people at first, restaurants will have to adopt physical distancing measures to welcome customers, and schools and businesses may need to stagger their re-openings, with new safeguards such as temperature checks and hand sanitizer at every entrance.
People are attempting to guess when things will return to normal, but it is most likely that they won’t, not completely anyway. However, we can achieve a new kind of normalcy, even if this “new world” differs in fundamental ways. People will need to wash their hands more often, cover their coughs more carefully, and greet and interact with one another differently. Gyms and other high-trafficked areas will have to take sanitation more seriously. Businesses may need to adopt new ways for colleagues to meet and friends may need to find new ways to mingle. Despite all this uncertainty, we must remember that one thing is definite: we are all in this together and we will get through this, one way or another.