Since its violent irruption, the Coronavirus has quickly forced us to significantly change our lives. We stopped our social lives in their tracks, we started working from home, we began to homeschool our kids, we started paying more attention to our hand washing – we even grew closer to our neighbors!
Someone could argue that those are just temporary changes and that things will get back to normal once this is over. However, this hardly feels like coming back from a vacation. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to dramatically modify our habits and replace them with new ones, so it’s safe to assume that some of those new habits will stick with us after this is over.
It’s hard to tell which ones will actually become the new normal but we can take an educated guess, especially with those that are based on technologies. How so? Because tech-driven habits bring benefits to their “normal” alternatives that can surely convince people to stick with them even when the Coronavirus pandemic becomes a distant memory. Here are the 3 that have the highest chances of that happening.
1. Remote Work
The elephant in the room, right? A lot of companies and entire industries have relied on remote work before, from IT outsourcing to manufacturing. However, the pandemic has the potential to boost its adoption and make certain fields adopt it as the de facto way of working. That’s because the technology is ripe enough to make remote work easier than ever before.
The increasing number of custom software for different kinds of industries, the automation of manual labor and repetitive tasks, and the evolution of cutting-edge technologies such as the IoT, 5G, and artificial intelligence make it highly likely that remote work is here to stay. In fact, certain experts believe those entire companies that now feel forced to use this approach will embrace it over time.
Part of that is because the quarantine and social distancing measures will make companies realize that certain activities don’t need in-house staff to be done successfully. These tasks include things like accounting, marketing, design, and even certain management-related activities.
Besides, there are several benefits in remote working, including having access to a wider pool of talent, helping people balance their personal and professional lives, limiting the investment in equipment for in-house teams, and reducing commutes (which, in turn, has environmental benefits of its own). That’s a strong series of advantages that companies will come to realize as the quarantine keeps going on.
2. Remote Healthcare
The healthcare industry is one of the most highly technological fields around and the pandemic is surely making that evident. Researchers from all over the world are using AI algorithms to aid them with the development of a COVID-19 vaccine while helping them better understand the virus. Technology also allows us to better track the disease spread and estimate the contagion to make more informed decisions.
All of these, though, were trends that were already present in the healthcare field before the pandemic – and will continue to exist after it’s gone. The trend that will definitely become stronger during these times is remote treatment. People that are getting sick are now using remote platforms to connect to doctors and get treatment without leaving their homes. Practitioners can diagnose illnesses remotely, prescribe drugs, and do follow-ups without leaving their homes.
What’s best – this trend will be combined with the Internet of Things and wearable technology to gather the information that can improve the whole treatment process. Collecting data and analyzing it with AI-based systems, health institutions will be able to conduct early diagnoses and prescribe medications before symptoms worsen, all remotely and without extra effort.
Maybe the most interesting trend of remote healthcare is how all this information could be aggregated to better understand diseases and how they spread. In this way, medical organizations from all over the world could share information about better treatments and measures while hopefully being able to predict potential outbreaks and contain them before they happen.
It’s true that most of these things aren’t common today but the pandemic is making IT developers and health institutions look into them as possible answers for future health issues. Thus, it’s highly likely that this pandemic will also institute remote health as a far more normal practice from now on, on which a new paradigm can be built.
3. Online Shopping
As addicted to online shopping as we all might seem, the truth is that we still depend on retailers for most of our shopping. That’s especially true for grocery shopping since only 4% of Americans used to buy groceries online. Now, due to the Coronavirus, a vast majority of them are using online channels to do their shopping – a habit that might stay with us even when the pandemic is over.
On the customer side, a lot of people are seeing how easy and convenient online shopping can really be. It’s a simple process with enough security to be trusted and with the added benefit of having the purchased item delivered to one’s doorstep. On the store side, they are being forced to embrace online deliveries to a point where that might become part of their business in a more permanent way.
Of course, Amazon’s shadow grows large when talking about online shopping. Thanks to its smooth delivery process and its well-oiled logistics machine, the company is already able to meet the consumer demands, even when most of them are non-essential products. The company can quickly become an example for smaller businesses that can tackle other needs, especially when it comes to perishable goods.
Even when some people might point out that buying groceries online today is an ordeal (especially due to the waiting times and many items being out of stock), ecommerce has a promising future, especially if businesses start to get the hang of online deliveries.
A Few Last Words
These are some of the tech-driven habits that have the highest potential of staying with us even when we are able to go out once again. They aren’t the only ones, of course. Cooking at home, movie streaming, homeschooling, and many other things can become new norms if society deems them improvements over what we had.
Challenging times like these have that effect – a disruptive wave that makes us look at things and reshape them to meet new kinds of demands. With the Coronavirus still out there, we’ll surely discover that some things can be done in a better way, and technology will surely play a major role when we do.