Business, and life, as we know it, has been changed forever by COVID-19.
The mundane consistencies we can now collectively agree we failed to appreciate have been missing for over 30 days now, and everyone wants them back. And they will come with time, only they’ll be accompanied by a massive change in life as we know it. For better or for worse, COVID-19 has changed our lives forever.
This week, our team analyzed the biggest changes we can expect to see from the corporate world whenever this invisible enemy finally decides enough is enough.
Working From Home
I don’t know about anyone else, but before the COVID-19 pandemic, I’d never once worked from home or remotely. I’ve now done it for three straight weeks and will continue to do it indefinitely, entirely dependent on whether or not we can flatten the curve.
Working from home is going to be a normalized part of corporate life moving forward. With collaborative virtual tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, the world is surprising itself with how easily it’s been able to adapt to the remote lifestyle. Since the outbreak of the virus, Zoom has seen its daily users spike to a whopping 200 million, up from 10 million in December.
From virtual happy hours to birthday celebrations, remote life is becoming eerily familiar; and don’t expect it to slow down as the curve does eventually flatten. Even if we are given the green light to return to our offices some time soon, are we so naive to believe there won’t be a large percentage of the workforce that still refuses to return to the office until COVID-19 is corralled entirely?
As much as we may hate it (or not, I certainly do), staying home not only flattens the curve, but protects our loved ones from being exposed to bacterias and illnesses like the novel coronavirus. And there is nothing like a global pandemic that would open our eyes to that fact as quickly and terrifyingly as COVID-19 has.
So, expect much, much more remote work moving forward. Even after nationwide cases begin to slow down.
Unlike COVID-19, Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
Speaking of working from home, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. That’s unheard of. Anyone who is lucky enough to be able to work from home right now should count their blessings and also take a long hard look at that number.
3.3 million. That surpasses the previous record of 695,000 set in… 1982. These are unprecedented times, and it’s made us realize that money doesn’t grow on trees. Whenever life does return to some state of normalcy, expect a spike in Americans not only starting their own businesses, but finding a second job if they already have one.
I’d imagine there are few feelings more sobering than losing your job entirely to something invisible. 3.3 million people. Remember that number. Having one in-expendable or two streams of income is critical. Who knows if/when the coronavirus will hit us with a second wave? Or if something like this will happen again? Just because we haven’t seen a pandemic this vicious since the 1918 Spanish Flu doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen again in our lifetimes.
The time is now to make ourselves in-expendable. Expect Americans to start their own businesses or take on extra responsibilities on top of their current jobs when this is over.
A New Premium Placed on Mental Health
Mental health is pretty damn important.
As if I needed to say it again, these are unprecedented times. We haven’t seen anything like this in our lifetimes. We’ve lost 81,200 humans to this virus. Every single one of those 81,200 people was a family member or friend to someone. Even those of us who are lucky enough to not have family members who have fallen ill or taken the virus worry every day that somehow, some way, we’ll touch or inhale something that can eventually kill us.
That is mentally taxing, and businesses know this. What was already a growing priority in the corporate world will become an even bigger standard. Firms are going to place a heightened importance on mental health nourishment and alleviation options.
Many firms, including my own, provide free memberships to self-care tools such as TalkSpace, an online mobile and therapy company and Headspace, an English-American online healthcare company specialized in meditation techniques. Although some firms don’t care, it is proven that employees perform better when they feel mentally stable. Following the outbreak of a pandemic this severe, expect firms to place an even bigger emphasis on providing their employees with ways to alleviate stress.