How the COVID-19 Has Ushered In a “New Normal”

In 2019, we were at the peak of prosperity. The global economy was defined by overproduction and overconsumption. It began to look like infinite growth could become a reality. I think we can all agree that our society and the systems that govern it weren’t healthy, even before COVID-19 arrived.

Without a doubt, the ongoing economic crisis, which will likely get worse, will affect all of us even if we aren’t directly infected with the virus. We’ll have to optimize our spending habits, find new jobs, postpone our holiday vacations, and change many of our daily routines.

Cheng Ran, Untitled, photograph, 2012

However, every crisis also has a bright side. This moment is a massive global reset that will help remove unhealthy businesses from the market and streamline the survivors for the forthcoming new world order.

The changes we’ll see in the months and years to come are too numerous to cover in a single post, but I’ve captured some of the most immediate ways that COVID-19 will change the world.

Be The Best Or The Cheapest

Every crisis is a catalyst for change and helps refresh the market environment. Surely, this crisis won’t be an exception and will remove a huge number of businesses that are simply not good enough or cheap enough for their customers.

According to reports, employee layoffs and pay cuts have already begun. It’s hard to predict the trajectory of the labor market and whether people can rely on their current income. As a result, the middle class will start cutting unnecessary expenses and all their “nice-to-haves”. Whether it’s the cleaning lady who comes once a week, the extra 20 cable channels, or the premium membership for their favorite calendar app, these nonessential products and services will be dropped.

The products that will be most successful are those that provide real value to their users and are hard to substitute. All those one-dollar SAAS products and apps that offer only mediocre benefits, compared to built-in free apps or free-to-use services, will be in trouble.

Less Globalization, More Localization

Many countries and organizations around the world have realized that distant supply chains might be hard to maintain in situations like this. The lack of access can harm businesses or even threaten human lives. In response, there will be a joint effort to move manufacturing outside of China and maintain strategic production inland.

The pandemic has also forced people to rely more on their neighbors and others in their communities. As a result, they will have a greater appreciation for local production and will favor local micro-businesses that supported them during hard times. It’s a great opportunity for all local delivery, food and drink, e-commerce and fashion startups.

“Handmade luxury” and “locally crafted” will become the most popular niches. Maybe it’s not necessary to transport goods across the world when local craftsmen can do an equally good, or even better, job.

Napalm, also known as Can’t Beat That Feeling by Banksy

Digital Life

Many of us started working from home due to social distancing regulations and because of additional restrictions soon after, we started meeting friends online and watching artists’ live performances online, among other activities. Though they’re late to the party, the majority has finally got their hands on Gen Z’s favorite online services and apps for e-life.

I believe that this forced “trial period” will significantly boost the usage of current delivery and remote services and will start a new wave of digitalization. For most businesses, an online-first approach will be the key to success.

Whether we’re talking about banking, government, consulting services, healthcare or education, there are plenty of activities that can be done online. All the companies that are transferring their old, rigid, offline worlds to an online/mobile app will experience a surge in their user metrics.

On the side of customers, there will be two major effects shaping this behavior: fear of crowded public places and the convenience of the online world. As a result, many new hybrid experiences will arise. Sports, e-sports, and cultural events that offer programs both online and offline might benefit from the digital aspects while also providing the same experience for a wider audience, with only a small amount of people physically present at their venues.

Lack Of Human Touch

During the pandemic, we’ve learned that some meetings can be scrapped in favor of emails, and even e-meetings have many advantages, with communication that can be as intimate and private as it is in real life. Enhanced virtual and augmented reality headsets will help push this new contactless world to the next level.

Contactless functionality will also be an important part of public life. As a matter of security, expect more interfaces that require primary voice or gesture input. There will be a common aversion to touching shared surfaces.

Arina Voronova’s Act of Love. Image: Courtesy of the artist

The sterility of the new world will also be evident in factories and production plants. Recent learnings about human vulnerability will escalate the push toward automation and robotization. In other words, if your job is boring and repetitive, you’re probably at great risk of being displaced by automation.

First to go will be the jobs from the field — production operations, office and administrative support, transportation and material moving, food preparation and service, and so on.

Monitoring & Surveillance

As a consequence of all the current security measures, which were adopted out of fear of an unknown and invisible enemy, there will be increasing pressure for more thorough monitoring of all citizens. People will demand early warning systems that can potentially prevent the death of thousands in the future.

People will voluntarily wear more monitoring equipment such as the Apple Watch or a Fitbit activity tracker, and this equipment will be specifically focused on healthcare. The new versions of these wearable devices might be monitoring your temperature, important organ functions, your bedtime and more. They will also open doors for new apps and services that analyze all the tracked data and provide meaningful insights.

Sculpture by the sea by Jakub Geltner (Aarhus, Denmark)

Many activities of our old, normal lives might be restricted or monitored. This might result in the perfect surveillance of all our steps and actions. Yet, there is an important question ahead of us: should we exchange our privacy and freedom for alleged safety and security?

Conclusion

No matter where you are from or what your occupation is, the coronavirus crisis — the world’s first pandemic of modern times — will affect you in some way. We all will be touched by its consequences, and it will most likely transform the world as we know it. Change is inevitable.

Quite often, I hear questions about when the situation will end and how soon we’ll get back to normal. The thing is, the world might never get back to the old normal.

The disruption is so strong that it will shift our values, mindsets and behaviors for good. The most flexible among us will adapt quickly and use this time as an advantage; the rest of us will simply get used to it later.

For more content like this, follow me on Twitter: @michallangmajer

I am a product professional focusing on mobile app growth and revenue optimizations.‍ www.langmajer.cz