Here is a look at how the 2020 pandemic will affect our homes, healthcare system, personal mobility and travel in 2021 and beyond due to COVID-19.
There is no doubt that our lives have been drastically changed during the global pandemic; however, it is highly possible that a safe and effective vaccine will be made available by autumn of 2021. But what does that mean for our lives post COVID-19? Will we go back to our old lifestyle, or will a new norm emerge?
Allianz Partners, our partners, have commissioned Futurologist Ray Hammond to predict what our lives will be like after COVID-19, highlighting early patterns of change, which are likely to shape this new world. The findings focused on the social and business sectors as they are important to the group’s main business lines and have a direct impact on our business.
Life after COVID-19
1-The home takes on a completely new dimension
Most office workers during the pandemic were forced for the first time to work from home. This change made organizations realize that they may no longer need huge offices and floorspaces in the future. For many staff members the home office will now become a part-time or full-time place of work. The same will apply for students spending semesters studying online or from home.
The future home will turn into medical consulting rooms as family doctors will provide guidance, diagnoses and counselling via phone or video calls.
Homes will most likely turn into anti-viral fortresses as they will be fitted with electric sensors detecting viruses, sterilizing stations and real-time reporting to health authorities.
From an environmental perspective, if the crisis were to result in 20% of office staff working from home for four days a week then the reduction of air pollution and carbon emissions would be significant.
2-Healthcare will have to respond to new expectations
Public health will be the center of everyone’s attention post the pandemic, especially governments who will work hard to ensure high quality of healthcare services are properly funded, available and widely accessible.
As the World Health Organization recently pointed out “Health is a driver of the economy- what we see now is that without health there is no economy.”
The supply chains for all medical supplies will be shortened and localized to ensure quick and timely delivery of all medicine and equipment required.
Even when everything is open and fully operational, doctors and patients alike will still prefer to keep many routine consultations online. This switch to remote medicine will also prompt the rise in the demand of wearable digital health monitors, not only for the young generation to enjoy and motivate them but also for the elderly to monitor their health condition.
The arrival of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown produced a sharp spike in patients reporting mental health issues such as grief, increased anxiety and depression. Mental health professionals have also been making considerable use of remote counseling, which allows a better long-term medical follow-up for those who have suffered the most.
It is predicted that the mental health aftermath of the pandemic will last longer than the pandemic itself.
3-A shift towards flexible mobility
Crowded buses, trams, metros and underground trains have shown to be powerful COVID-19 and other viruses’ spreaders. Nevertheless, some people will be obliged, for work or other reasons, to use public transportation. Passengers will soon be able to wear a “smart” face mask that produces a fluorescent signal when a person who has COVID-19 coughs or sneezes in their vicinity.
In cities, traditional and newer forms of micro-mobility (bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboards, etc.) will also play their part in getting people from A to B in ways that avoid using public transport. Micro-mobility also eases traffic congestion and reduces air pollution.
Another factor likely to affect future road usage is that employees who find themselves freed from the daily commute will also find that their average annual mileage will be significantly reduced. This is likely to accelerate the trend towards short-term car rental rather than full car ownership.
4-The travel experience will face drastic changes
One of the most disrupted sectors has been air travel. For most people, all long-distance travel stopped abruptly when the pandemic struck.
Short-haul and domestic air travel will begin to recover first as commuter, business and leisure travel resumes. Air travelers will have to wear face masks throughout all stages of their journey and passengers will need to say goodbye to loved ones outside the airport.
In some cases, jet bridges to planes will be used as a final “disinfectant tunnel” and they may even be fitted with electronic sensors (in development by Airbus) that can “smell” the COVID-19 virus.
Airlines will cut down on cabin bags to speed up boarding and reduce contamination risk, and will reduce food and drink services.
The cruise industry will be the most affected as no one has a clear vision of how cruises can be organized while respecting social distancing and, above all, the quarantine of sick travelers to avoid contamination.
Hospitality will undergo enhanced sanitation measures. Restaurants are likely to reopen with shorter hours, for fewer days, with far fewer tables and greatly streamlined menus.
Finally, business travel will be reassessed as the pandemic has shown that global work can be done by video conferencing, allowing financial cost and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Only trade meetings, exhibitions and international sporting events are likely to resume to normal levels in the foreseeable future.
In conclusion, the world will not be able to relax social-distancing measures fully until effective vaccines have been found, which can protect people against the reappearance of COVID-19 and related SARS viruses.
The new societies that will emerge from the pandemic of 2020 will be wiser and far better prepared to deal with any new risk to public health. It is also to be hoped that the new opportunities to live and work in more environmentally-sustainable ways that have been revealed during the crisis will become widely adopted.
We did learn a lot from this pandemic and every crisis presents opportunities. Society has discovered that it doesn’t need so many giant office buildings, and humans don’t all need to commute to work at the same time or on the same days. It has also shown us the importance of properly funded and well prepared health services and the vital importance of robust, short medical supply chains and local manufacturing capabilities. These are valuable lessons.
Source: Allianz Partners
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