COVID-19 – Journey from Normal to the New Normal
Sooner we accept the reality that COVID-19 will not go away soon, the better equipped we shall be to endure it. Moreover, when it does go, it won’t be a definitive ending like a project completion, It would fade away rather slowly with only statistics to confirm its departure.
Our history syllabus although designed for a broad grasp of major historical developments, missed out on the pandemics of the past centuries. Absence of these from our collective subconscious left us out of depths when COVID struck. Microbes were the invisible enemy then as now and the survivors will be left behind licking the wounds like the in the past.
The Bubonic plague, which also originated in the East Asia continued for 5 years from 1347 claiming an estimated 75 to 200 million scalps. The Spanish flu of 1918 is more recent and continued for over a year claiming 17 to 50 million human lives.
If history is to be believed, a recession with unprecedented impact on the global economy is inevitable. The jagged rocks will surface as the tide recedes but we should use this crisis as an opportunity to rethink our priorities. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest lessons is the necessity of private and public investment in the health system.
The need for social distancing have shaken the foundation of the very first pillar of civilization, the construction industry. With lockdown in every other city, we suddenly found ourselves at the mercy of the new estate, the digital estate. Not able to reach the offices, the A-E firms finally jumped, albeit clumsily into the world of “work- from-home”.
Another equally old profession, teaching too witnessed similar paradigm shift. After a brief pause, schools restarted classes using available technologies as students got the taste of “Learn-from-home”.
In the coming days this clumsiness will disappear as the change become more pervasive and the technology further augmented. Before we realize the full implication of the changes, we will transition into the world where these will be “new normal”.
The lean business models and where the employer does not pay the utility bills or travel allowances is not expected to face resistance from the business leaders.
Let’s visualize together what could be the “new normal”, looking beyond face mask, 20 seconds’ hand wash, sanitizer and “work- from-home”:
- With more people working from home, the demand for office spaces will decline.
- As people get used to shopping online, the demand of malls too will also see a downward trend.
- When we spend more time at our homes, demand for spacious residences are bound to increase. This might very well set a trend of people moving away from the overcrowded cities.
- Freed up real-estate of the cities will require new functions and new visionaries will arrive at the scenes to redefine the societal priorities.
- A journey of trial & error will begin leading to innovation and trend setting.
- Multifunctional areas that support work & leisure together will evolve as people reinvent spaces for social interactions.
- The geographical boundaries and physical distance will become even more irrelevant as students in the remote countryside will access superstar instructors in megalopolis.
- Reduction of the carbon footprints at individual levels is bound to bring the clean air & starry nights to our cities.
· History will salutes the ones who embraces the chaos and opt for a seamless transition into the world of “new normal”.