The World After Covid-19

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Let’s start from the end…

If we are honest, we can’t really expect the World to be ever the same again after Covid-19 and the latest developments. As much as some of us might wish things would go back to “normal”, the World is constantly changing with or without Covid-19. However, the pace at which things have been changing in the last few weeks (couple of months) is staggering. Don’t worry, this is not a doom or gloom article, not arguing for a conspiracy theory, nor another update on Covid-19. I have read my share of those and quite frankly I am, like many, pretty tired and ‘sick’ of these kind of reports.

Here I try to convey my views on what changes we should see (started seeing) with a deliberate focus on the positive ones mainly. Know that I am a believer in positivity and in attracting positive outcomes and I hope this article will do just that.

Before starting, I have to admit that I have been meaning to write this for a while now (as soon as the Covid-19 started becoming global). Unfortunately, working from home, didn’t help me as much as I thought it would. It actually gave me a false impression that I will suddenly have more time to do all the things that I ever wanted to do. I tell you this, because as I pondered about writing this article, a few articles came out touching on some of the points I will list below. This is great as it confirmed my predictions and gave me more insights on which ideas are more likely to materialize than others.

So without further ado, let’s dive into our topic. What Covid-19 did remarkably well for humanity is help us realize a couple of things and catalyzed a few changes that were in the making. Here are the ones that come to my mind and that I would focus on. There might be more of course, so do not hesitate to give me a shout or comment with your own. Each of the listed topics below might deserve a full article(s) by itself but for the benefit of the reader and to keep this article within the attention span of a busy reader, I will only give a description to clarify my point here and hopefully develop it or debate it in another article.

The first on my list is:

Healthcare: Our understanding of it, expectations, how we view it, how governments look at it, and how we get our treatments, will never be the same again…

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Disruption in Healthcare (Disruption being somewhat an overused term by now) has been happening everywhere and in all its dimensions. If interested refer back to my article dated Jan 2017 “Caution: Disruption ahead” (https://medium.com/@michaelmalek_1980/caution-disruption-ahead-6b76aa1f54e7). Weirdly, back then I had predicted that the change will come faster than what people think. However, I never imagined it was going to be because of a pandemic. Here are a few topics to look out for in Healthcare:

1- Remote care: This is by default what almost every institution, business, or main player that could do something about it, went for. From chronic disease management to regular checkups, patients and providers are opting to provide remote care and are trusting it more and more. Different countries will obviously have different readiness and acceptance for it. However, overall, the World does not find it “exceptional” anymore to ask for remote care. If you are a main player in Healthcare, prepare to offer remote care solutions or be forgotten. Those who have had experience and some history with remote care, have a clear advantage today. However, better act now as the gap is closing fast.

2- Home care: This is the next one and not many are talking about it yet. However, I predict that we will see a surge in homecare as soon as things start calming a bit more with Covid-19 and even before that. It is simply a matter of time as individuals will prefer to treat themselves and do most of their healthcare needs at home if possible. This is also magnified for the elderly and those at risk that can’t (don’t want to) get exposed to the risk of being in the outside world to get their care. There are a few companies that had started home care, I believe those have a clear advantage to expand their services and grow big in the current/post Covid-19 era.

3- Specialized hospitals: I predict that hospitals will become more and more specialized and give way to specialized centers. As more home care is taking place and remote care, the need for the hospital that does everything will decrease significantly. What will be needed are the specialized clinics that can really offer a distinctive value for the patient and guarantee certain outcomes.

4- Diagnostics: More companies will emerge allowing individuals to perform diagnostics and upload data from home and home devices.

5- Connected devices: the connected devices we are used to using will start to incorposrate more and more healthcare parameters and help us track and manage our health

6- Data: Health data is going to become more and more attainable and individuals might be more susceptible to making data about their health available for analysis. This is an interesting one as people wake up again to their privacy needs and concerns, once the craze of the pandemic calms down.

7- VR and remote operations: I believe virtual doctor visits and virtual operating rooms will start popping up more often and we will see a new way of training our doctors and surgeons. We will also see more robotics in hospitals as they strive to offer more value and more consistent outcomes. There is a new breed of HCPS that is going to appear and that is needed to keep up with the new reality.

8- R&D: We will see a surge again in Healthcare budgets and R&D on things described above but also on more core R&D.

9- Startups: Healthcare startups will get more and more attention and a golden opportunity to shine in the post/during Covid-19 era. The playing field has been leveled in a way with covid-19 and many new players have entered from the wide doors.

Gaming: “get your joysticks out ! or maybe your VR headsets if you are slightly younger”

The gaming industry is going to see a very nice boom. Probably not seen since the Nintendo and SEGA come back. Games are going to be more “real“ and most if not all will have the virtual social interaction component. I also suspect more adult oriented games to start emerging and make it more to the mainstream market. There will be a blur between the real world and the gaming world as both have a big virtual component to them.

Retail: “way more than a simple boom in home deliveries”

This is a tricky one to predict. On one hand, I want to say that shops are going to suffer from the decrease in footprint and people walking into shops. In addition with people not socializing much and not really going out, they probably soon realize they don’t need to buy that much nor really stick to fashion. On the other hand, the need to standout will increase, personalization will become more and more relevant and depending on how you evolve the combination of the shop plus the virtual experience of shopping (and create value) the more likely people will want to buy. My prediction is that shops will remain in existence but more as showrooms and experiences versus shops only. The actual shopping will happen online. Online retailers will get better at tailoring your clothes to your needs, will allow you more and more customization. They might incorporate health measures into the styling of the wardrobe for example. Your clothes might be your second skin.

Fitness and Diet: “More focus on fitness and personalized training”

The future of fitness will probably look different from today. No more really the age of gyms and group classes. 1:1 virtual and even in person training programs will flourish. They will be complemented with your own diet plans and own home food deliveries. Gyms will evolve to become more specialized training locations for those athletes seeking specific performance enhancements and for those with certain specific targets. They will also evolve to become more like locations for trainers and people needing training with specific equipment to meet. Imagine the gym made of many mini gym rooms versus the big common location it is today.

Restaurateur: “A polarization between high end “experience restaurants” and comfort food joints”

One of the most impacted sectors. The restaurants have really struggled and do not see a very bright future. However, it’s not all dark for restaurants. People will eventually learn how to live with Covid-19 like they learned to live with other diseases and will start going social again. I predict that two main restaurant types will emerge as the most successful. The top high end restaurants that have a unique experience to provide and are already pretty much naturally “socially distanced” both in terms of their price ranges, accessibility and internal space and staff behavior. The other type of restaurants will be those that offer the comfort type of food and that we are all used to going to. They however will change layouts, automate most of the business and provide a more convenient experience to the restaurant goer. Think of high tech Japanese technology combined with a customer friendly socially distant staff on roller blades… Needless to say the hygiene and food quality will have to take leaps too.

The other interesting evolution in the food business is the access to quality produce and food sourcing. I expect a lot more of local produce and focus on home grown items. At least for the next year to 18 months.

Transport and airlines: “ where do I begin? … 10 years ago…”

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes the travel industry suffered a lot and yes it will be very hard and quite a while before it can recover but what does travel have in store for us? We have become global citizens, people still want to visit loved ones, want to take vacations, and will have to make business trips. This means that we will seek to travel. However, we will opt for fewer trips. We will seek to be getting the most secure and relaxing experience. We will be looking to use trains where possible as they will probably have a more suitably controlled environment without too much disruption to what we are used to. For airlines, already travel was no longer pleasant with all the post 9/11 security measures and now this is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Airports and airlines will have to partner to create a more streamlined experience while remaining secure and able to provide a ticket for a relatively affordable price. I suspect that the airlines and airports will create new alliances and we will see a different kind of airport and a different kind of airlines metrics and KPIs. What will be needed is a transformation of the travel experience and not just more of the same. So all this talk about 4 hours processes at the airport and the like might work in the short term but it will kill the industry completely if maintained. The airlines and airports will show us a new flying experience. I can’t wait to see what the future of air travel will be ; and for the good reasons.

Workplace and workforce: “working from anywhere is now a reality”

This is no longer a debate. What Covid-19 clearly proved is that many of us can actually forego the office and work pretty well (or even better) from anywhere. Some of us not so much, but that’s normal as we are all not doing the same jobs nor all have the same personality. What is definitely true though is that overall less office spaces will be needed, a new breed of HR will be needed, and a whole new set of organizational behavior will develop. The change here is also one that was bound to happen and slowly but surely taking place. What happened today was a catalyst and a bit of a big social experiment. As companies and individuals are figuring out how to best operate in this new reality, patterns are emerging, and successes and pitfalls are being identified. The office of tomorrow is a hive of virtual cell offices with some hubs around the World for maintaining support and culture where and when needed. Obviously, this is not applicable in 100% of the cases as manufacturing and other similar tasks will still require physical on the premises work.

Real Estate: “No spaces will be lost, just repurposed”

The above point leads me to this. The need for office space will decrease. However, the loss in office space is probably going to be gained by individuals looking to have bigger spaces in the shape of homes or private spaces. I believe we will see more houses being sold versus apartments, more movement to greener spaces, more focus and attention to where people live. The sanctuary and family home will probably come back. Even commercial space will potentially seek larger spaces unlike what people tend to think. More space is needed to cater for all the online deliveries, for the bespoke experiences, the social distancing requirements etc. what happens to prices is another story.

Education: “More homeschooling in the horizon… teacher and parents become partners in education”

This might not be great news for some. I do not see the schooling model going back to what it was. It was already undergoing change and online schools and universities were popping up. Now the CV-19 situation has put all that on steroids and conventional schools overnight had to move to online curriculums. The school of the future will have the space for some student interaction and case work and the like but a lot of the learning will continue to be carried home. The school will become more a place to foster the experiences of real life and the education will be more at home.

There are so many more sectors to consider and talk about. The reality is there is not a single aspect of our lives that is not affected.

The above were some of the first ones to come to mind. Like I mentioned. This is not an exhaustive analysis. Each sector deserves a deep dive by experts and I would be happy to discuss. Please feel free to add your sector, comment, or just leave your opinion.

Stay positive and make a difference!

Michael

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