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15 ways COVID-19 will change us forever (I)

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Yen Choi

BY: Yen Choi

There is no doubt the wide reaching impact that the Covid 19 pandemic has had on individuals, families, businesses, the global economy and social structure. However, history continues to demonstrate that the human populace is extremely adaptive and will eventually reach some sort of recovery from this pandemic.

This recovery will not be “everything back to normal pre-COVID-19 days”. It will be a new way of living and working and social interacting. Post Covid 19 recovery will be defined by lessons learned and prioritization of the most important aspects of human motivations. Abraham Maslow demonstrated this in his theory of “Hierarchy of Needs”. At the bottom of the pyramid are the needs of food, water, warmth, and rest. Moving up a left, is safety and security.

Moving upwards are the needs of belonging, relationships, friends. At the higher levels of motivation, we have needs of feeling of accomplishment, prestige and above all, self-actualization.

Being at the top levels of the pyramid is a luxury some are fortunate to have. During the pandemic, these people rapidly dropped a level or even several levels from feeling “at the top of their game” to finding that they cannot pay rent and have lost their source of income.

Overnight, priorities shifted from what we considered normal to dire. We were used to hanging out with friends at the bar debating on if the new car from Corvette was better than a Porsche.

Now we are struggling with isolation without friends and families, worrying about the overdue rent, and the rapidly dwindling bank account that may only last a month or even a couple weeks. The thought of going from not worrying about food to worrying if next week hunger and starvation will happen, is a scary one.

Furthermore, the imaginative future visuals of civil unrest and potential violence from people suffering and acting out of desperation.

According to the World Bank, there are 734 million people living in poverty making less than $1.90 per day, which is about 10% of the global population. If the threshold was $5 per day, the number will be in the billions of people.

These people in poverty are not spread out evenly throughout our planet, in many countries, the levels of poverty reach 30%, and some as high as 45%. The pandemic has pushed the global population down two levels.

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The low income population already living in the bottom two levels and have no where else to go except dire life threatening hardship and must fight day and night to stay there on the bottom two levels.

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With this being said, if you are one of the lucky ones at the higher levels, and have fallen a level or two, you are still above the newly created extreme and dire levels. You may think your new found concerns about food and safety are dire, please remember that you are maintaining yourself at multiple levels and can and must become creative in helping others.

Self actualization can now be attained by sacrifices in an effort to help others in need, backup rainy day funds will go a long way to save the lives of families for several days.

I live in Nigeria, where income is one the most disparate of the world with 33% of the population living in poverty. Am I afraid of the pandemic?

Definitely yes! I don’t know when and how this will end, but I do make it an effort to help others during a crisis. I have bought food packs for people that have reached out for help, I have also cooked some basic meals to distribute to people living in my neighborhood. I know it’s not enough, but if it everyone in a similar situation as myself steps up and does the same, then we will be able to hold up the under privileged until this storm passes.

A small contribution of basic meals to 5, 10, or even 100 people will go a very long way. Many times being kind and generous goes unthanked and without reward. Don’t worry. If only one person out of the 100 that you have helped returns the favor to someone else, then kindness will spread faster than a virus and will “infect” a billion people in no time.

Helping others and ourselves can only be effective if we are armed with the knowledge of what the future will bring.

Although there are no clear answers or timelines of what and when the pandemic will be over, what we can be sure of is that the return to normalcy will be slow and gradual.

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Also, many aspects of the “normal” we have been used to will change for the long term. To assist with understanding what may change, I have come up with several predictions of life post COVID-19.

1) Education

The distinction between and school and home will blur. Many academic organizations will realize that a bulk of the learning can happen online. As a result, campuses will become less crowded, thus being able to support more students. There will be “odd / even” days where depending on the day of the week, you may or may not be required to physically be on campus. This will alleviate the fear of not being able to maintain enough distance between each student. I call this “thinning out” and will refer to the term frequently below.

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2) Thinning out of pre-COVID-19 dense areas

We will begin to see a thinning out policy for any place of where people typically were in close physical proximity of. Several methods will be used. One method it to split a bunch of people into groups, e.g. Group A, Group B, Group C, or even “Odd” and “Even”.

Then depending on the day or policy, only allow a certain group to come out. The second method is rate limiting the flow of people, so existing venues with a large capacity will reduce their capacity by 50% or even 80% so that when people are at the venue, they will have ample physical distance between them.

a) No movie theatres, arcades — As a place where more than 50 people are organized almost in arms reach of each other, these venues were the first to stop operating due to social distancing requirements. The movie theater of the future will shift to online world.

The online world will have a solution where multiple people can watch the same film while having a social interaction of making comments and remarks about the film.

For the people finding change difficult, and the for theaters taking their last “dying gasp” these theaters will be re-purposed so that a screen with a normal capacity of 400 will allow only 50 people spread evenly to maximize social distancing. Very quickly people will realize that what good is going to a theater without the social aspect. Generation Y and Generation Z are already consuming most of their content on computer, tablets and phones.

b) Restaurants — Will need to pivot their business model to a delivery service and for their existing seats, once lock down orders are eased, these restaurants will have to employ thinning out measures of having people physically distanced from each other. Very quickly people will realize that the value of going to a restaurant was social in nature and not being able to converse with people and friends at restaurants will become a deterrent of going.

Some may only separate different groups of people. Some restaurants will start online dining areas using applications like Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Patrons can order online and join an online room while having their meals.

This will bring a whole new type of experience to food. Some restaurant online rooms will be so popular that they will need to control who joins the rooms.

c) Airplanes — More than 50% of existing airlines will collapse this year. Airlines which survive will increase their prices by up to 2X and will now employ drastic measures of sanitization. Sanitization will be a differentiator even more valued than loyalty miles, or oven food on the plane. Economy class seats will have at least one empty seat between each seat. Airlines will retrofit HEPA filters throughout the plane or retrofit hospital grade air filtering systems for the entire aircraft. New certification bodies will emerge which can set standards for hygiene and sanitization, and period testing where passengers and transparently see the results of such testing.

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d) Other public transit — These all will follow in lines with the Airline industry. Queuing for boarding and disembarking will follow a much more orderly process to maximize physical distancing. There will be increased technology based screening for passengers boarding and increased automation to prevent touching of buttons. There will be a massive increase on the use of facial recognition systems to automate personal preferences and choices.

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@TechEconomyNG connects past-present-emerging technological impacts on Businesses, People and Cities. All Correspondence to: [email protected]

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