Few have seen this pandemic coming, but as humanity does best, it has adapted. In trade and industry, large numbers of workers switched to remote work. Companies have reconfigured their supply chains and biotech companies have accelerated the development of tests, vaccines and treatments. Many of these adjustments will remain, but which will really shape the way we live and work after life COVID?
By observing the technology In 2021 so far, four main categories are the trends that are most likely in the long run.
One area of daily life that is changing rapidly and permanently is personal transport. Technology was a hot topic before the pandemic (for example, autonomous vehicles were already being used in some places), but the crisis accelerated its development.
Currently, China is a leader in autonomous vehicles that deliver goods in many market sectors, reducing the need for manned trucks. For individuals, this type of vehicle will likely be used in car pooling in the future, with a local hub being used as the start and end point for these types of vehicles.
R2 from Domino’s Pizza / Image: Domino’s.
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The aviation industry also continues to recover from the pandemic. Airlines and manufacturers have relied on outdated technology for decades, but they can’t get away with it anymore, not when people’s lives are at stake.
2. Health care
The healthcare sector mirrors the aviation industry in its strained but dependent relationship with technology. Now the industry is at a turning point. We have seen global research resources come together to introduce a new type of vaccine in record time, the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines, which have proven the technology’s feasibility and created a roadmap for future innovations.
Telemedicine has made great strides as part of this change. Before the pandemic, only 10% of providers offered telehealth services such as telephone solutions and digital remote sensing. In the past year, the top providers of these types of services reported usage increases of up to 700%. And if insurance now covers most remote medication, why should you return to the doctor’s office in person for ailments that can be treated remotely?
Investors see innovations in biotechnology and healthcare as a great opportunity even after COVID and are investing funds in development.
When everyone suddenly switched to working remotely, collaboration tools became more important than ever. Sure, many companies were already using video calling and communication platforms like Slack. The big difference is that most organizations are optimized for face-to-face meetings rather than remote collaboration.
The shortcomings of such tools became apparent early in the pandemic: awkward crosstalk during video conferencing, difficulty reading in the room without face-to-face interaction, and challenges in creative meetings like whiteboard, to name a few. However, the boom in the use of applications like Zoom forced these platforms to improve and resulted in a deluge of new and improved tools for remote collaboration.
With these evolving technologies, productivity from anywhere is becoming increasingly robust, leading to the last major category of customization.
4. Permanent remote work
It’s hard to insist on a traditional 9-5 in the office as entire industries moved to remote working in 2020 and did so effectively. While people are now craving human interaction, they are unlikely to want to go back to the office five days a week that the pandemic ends. Commuting to work is universally despised, and remote work technology is now well established so it stays here.
The question is to what extent. Sure, some people will want to continue working from their hometown, where they are close to family and away from the housing costs of big cities. But when a company is not 100% removed, people in managerial positions or roles like sales are expected to show up in person at times. And the youngest also want the experience of interacting with colleagues and leading city life.
In a world of mixed and distant workers, the office will look different. “Shared desks” instead of assigned desks and hybrid work schedules are more common. In addition, home offices will continue to be more ergonomic and high-tech. Due to the new world order of work, innovation will continue to drive changes that enable people to be productive in all environments.
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Executives are responsible for taking advantage of new technology and guiding their teams through the transitions to come. When people get access to the vaccine and start thinking, “What’s next?” They will reach out to their managers and leadership teams for a plan on how to get back to work or stay away, or a little bit of both.
A smart first step is to stay one step ahead of the curve. Take a look at these customization categories and consider how they will affect your organization. Don’t wait to see what others are doing. Set up pilot programs to test different approaches and find new ways to be successful. Use what you have learned to avoid challenges with larger releases.
The change will continue to take place. That is the only guarantee. No one can expect life to return to what it was before. So it is best to work towards a “new normal”.