Few saw this pandemic coming, but as humanity does best, it has adapted. Across commerce and industry, large numbers of workers switched to remote work. Companies reconfigured their supply chains and biotech companies accelerated the development of tests, vaccines and treatments. Many of these adaptations will remain, but which ones will really shape the way we live and work after COVID?
When looking at the technology that is leading the way in 2021 so far, four main categories emerge as the trends most likely to hold for the long term.
One area of daily life that is undergoing rapid and lasting change is that of personal transportation. Technology was a hot topic before the pandemic (autonomous vehicles, for example, were already in use in some places), but the crisis accelerated its evolution.
Right now, China is leading the way in autonomous vehicles that are used to deliver goods in many sectors of the market, thus alleviating the need for manned trucks. For individuals, the future is likely to see this type of vehicle used in carpool schemes, using a local hub as a start and end point for these types of cars.
The air travel industry also continues to rebound from the pandemic. Airlines and manufacturers have relied on outdated technology for decades, but they can’t get away with it anymore, not when people’s lives are at stake.
2. Health care
The healthcare sector echoes the airline industry in its tense but dependent relationship with technology. Now the industry is at a tipping point. We have witnessed how the world’s research resources come together to introduce a new type of vaccine in record time, the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines, which established the feasibility of the technology and created a roadmap for implementing future innovations.
Telemedicine has made great strides forward as part of this change. Before the pandemic, only 10% of providers offered telehealth services, such as telephone solutions and digital remote sensing. In the past year, the top providers of these types of services reported increases in use of up to 700%. And with insurance now covering most remote medicine, why go back to the doctor’s office in person for ailments that can be treated remotely?
Investors see innovations in biotechnology and healthcare as a great opportunity even after COVID and are investing funds in development.
When everyone suddenly switched to remote work, collaboration tools became more critical than ever. Sure, many companies were already using video calling and communication platforms like Slack. The big difference is that most organizations are optimized for in-person meetings, not remote collaboration.
The flaws in such tools became apparent early in the pandemic: awkward crosstalk during video conferencing, difficulty reading in the room without face-to-face interaction, and challenges with creative sessions like whiteboard, to name a few. But the boom in the use of apps like Zoom forced these platforms to improve and led to a flood of new and improved tools for remote collaboration.
With these evolving technologies, productivity from anywhere continues to get more and more robust, leading to the last major category of adaptations.
4. Permanent remote work
It’s hard to insist on a traditional 9-5 in the office when entire industries moved to remote work, and did so effectively, in 2020. While people now crave human interaction, they are unlikely to want to go back to the office. five days a week when the pandemic ends. Commuting to work is universally despised, and the technology for working remotely is now well established, so it’s here to stay.
The question is to what extent. Sure, some people will want to continue working from their hometown, where they are close to family and away from the housing costs of big cities. But unless a company is 100% remote, people in leadership positions or roles like sales are likely to be expected at times to show up in person. And the youngest will also want the experience of socializing with co-workers and living the city life.
In a world of mixed staff and remote staff, the office will look different. “Shared desks” instead of assigned desks and hybrid work schedules will be more prevalent. In addition, home offices will continue to be more ergonomic and high-tech. Due to the new world order of work, innovation will continue to drive change that enables people to be productive in all settings.
Leaders are responsible for harnessing emerging technology and guiding their teams through the transitions to come. As people gain access to the vaccine and begin to think, “What’s next?” they will look to their managers and executive teams for a plan to get back to work, or stay away, or a little of both.
A smart first step is to get ahead of the curve; Examine these adaptation categories and think about how they affect your organization. Don’t wait to see what others do. Set up pilot programs to test different approaches and find new ways to be successful. Take advantage of what you learn to avoid challenges during larger releases.
The change will continue to happen. That is the only guarantee. No one can expect life to go back to what it was before, so it is best to work towards a “new normal”.