COVID-19 is arguably the biggest talking point globally with most discussions revolving around how to limit its spread and find a cure and vaccine. And since most resources have either been channelled into survival, citizen support, or curtailing the pandemic, it appears decision making about future plans has been suspended in many spheres.
While this may be true across the board, there is a possibility that these experiences are subtly changing people’s dispositions towards living and could remain like that for a long time.
This can be established on the premise that outbreaks significantly influence culture – how people live and daily habits – and the economy. And these effects tend to continue long after the infection has been contained/eradicated.
Scientifically, consistently repeating an action makes it a habit. What else has a psychological undertone is how habits that are initially developed for adaptation eventually become societal trends after they have served their purpose. Literally, habits are likely to persist even after conscious motivation or interest wanes.
On the surface, improved personal and public hygiene, as well as rethinking public gatherings and insisting on personal space, all have higher prospects of becoming principles.
A report tracking COVID-19's impact revealed that the consumption patterns have changed, with sales of hygiene and medical stock, as well as consumables topping the charts. Worth noting also is the fact that customer confidence has dwindled in some products unrelated to the coronavirus. For instance, ride-hailing and home rental companies are suspected to be recording losses.
While the pandemic continues unabated across the world, and social distancing becomes a widespread measure to flatten the pandemic curve, companies are integrating new processes to sustain their businesses.
Without any degree of certitude, here are some personal and corporate habits/skills that might remain after the pandemic ends.
Online shopping could become a bigger deal
Following the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China which lasted about six months before being contained in June, reports revealed that period contributed to the advancement of eCommerce.
A market analysis during that period showed an upward trend in the sales of hygiene products and consumables, while there was a decrease in other non-essential commodities.
If anything, the impact on FMCGs now will be profound and it will mostly be hinged on delivery. The possibility of this is apparent in the willingness to stay away from public places to lower their susceptibility to getting infected. And this may continue after the pandemic is contained.
Similarly, the culture of food takeaway and deliveries may increase to displace eating out at restaurants.
Employees would demand remote work
One direct implication of social distancing is remote work, and this may have had a resultant effect on the use of coworking spaces in Nigeria. Subsequently, there is the likelihood of employees requesting more remote working days, especially after realising they can be productive without being present at work.
Online learning becomes commonplace
The adoption of remote learning has been limited by the belief that it replaces physical teaching and learning. However, this period has revealed that distance learning can be effective, as it adds to the physical teacher’s efforts. A child educator says a parent acknowledged this after one of her online teaching sessions.
As it stands, the proliferation of mobile devices and increasing Internet penetration has made the provision and use of online classes inexpensive. Consequently, schools, teachers, and parents become better equipped for this. Investments would improve in tools and solutions supporting online learning. This would resultantly become beneficial to the different models of edtech solutions.
Need to develop relevant digital skills
It is imperative that corporate establishments that involve constant customer-facing routines see the need to devise adaptive means during the threat of a potential lockdown if their businesses must continue running.
And since relevant tools are available to support this, the setback is perhaps in the skills of the employees. However, in extreme cases when layoffs seem inevitable, employees would have to develop competencies, that mostly involve technology, to cope.
Increased push for telemedicine
The spread of COVID-19 into Africa has somewhat exposed the flaws in its public health sector. However, what is globally available capable of filling this gap is telemedicine, but it is scantily adopted. Although it may not be used for a full examination, answering the questions correctly, can assist with on-demand medical screening and determining risk factors.
Businesses will learn quick customer response
With the awareness that some public spaces cannot be accessed – particularly essential services like health, education, and sales, among others – companies will devise methods of responding quickly to customers' needs and complaints. Sometimes through putting out toll-free numbers for easy access during emergencies and also response bots as substitutes.
This inexhaustible list may represent the pressure businesses have to deal with at the moment for adaptation. But if sustained, they might end up becoming best practices capable of causing growth. Regardless of whatever measures people ultimately take, it is clear that the coming weeks or months will determine a lot.
I am Oluwanifemi Kolawole, and I’m interested in your well-being. I believe the coronavirus (or COVID-19) will not remain an enigma for too long. But while we await a cure, discard the myths and maintain good personal hygiene. Also, stay away from crowds as much as you can, and arm yourself with the right information.
Stay safe 😇