Will the world remain the same after COVID-19?
(This blog was written by me in 2020 and was originally published on penchalk.com on April 26, 2020.)
The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented global public health challenge. All the world is suffering from it. Every country has announced a lockdown for different time periods. Many serious steps are taken by governments all over the world. This virus is not as fatal as the previous pandemics but it has an impact that will change the world.
Author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, puts it well in a recent essay. He writes:
“ Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service because the risks of doing nothing are bigger. ”
Let take a glance at some changes after this catastrophe:
Increase in remote work:
This pandemic will cause a huge increase in the trend of remote working. As people are practicing social distancing, there will be more jobs that’ll prefer to work from home. The concept of cooperating workers working in large no. of cubicles is no more. The trend of remote working was increasing even before the COVID-19 but now it’ll grow at a much higher rate than ever. And it’s not going to happen in a blink of an eye, it’ll take some time but you can say it will be much quicker than in the past.
A special analysis done by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that there has been a major upward trend in the number of people working remotely in the U.S. In the span of one year, from 2016 to 2017, remote work grew 7.9%. Over the last five years, it grew 44% and over the previous 10 years, it grew 91%.
Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. In 2015, 3.9 million U.S. workers were working remotely. Today that number is at 4.7 million, or 3.4% of the population.
These are the just figures of the U.S. But now this trend is increasing worldwide.
In this present time, people are working from home willingly or unwillingly. It will give them the experience of remote working and they will become adaptive to remote working.
Companies will also enforce remote working because it is more economical as well as good for the environment. Some complexities and difficulties will arise regarding remote working but they will be diminished with time.
Betterment in health policies:
COVID-19 has shown us that the current health care system is not sufficient in the case of any global pandemic. The U.S which has one of the best health care systems in the world is also passing through hard times due to this pandemic. When this pandemic will end every country will increase its health budgets. Countries will invest more in the research and development of medical sciences.
Strict health laws will be formed around the world. Global pandemic policies and strategies will be created by the WHO. Special pandemic forces and departments will be created which will work efficiently during health emergencies.
In the 2015 TED talk, Bill Gates said viruses pose the “greatest risk of global catastrophe” when compared to other threats to humanity.
“ If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes. ”
“ We’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents, but we’ve invested very little in a system to stop epidemics. We are not ready for the next epidemic, ”
Another thing is that there will be a complete ban on wet markets of wild animals around the world or very strict laws will be made regarding these wet markets because they have become the cause of two major pandemics (SARS &COVID-19) in the past twenty years.
Thus in the future, we will see a world in which people will be more conscious about their health and governments will be paying more attention to health care departments.
Implementation of digital currency and automation tech:
In this COVID-19 outbreak, the banknotes made up of paper, linen or cotton, etc. can carry coronavirus. This was confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in recent comments to The Telegraph and in a study from Germany which found coronavirus can survive on notes, coins, and the plastic exteriors of ATMs for several days.
World health organization (WHO) also encouraging digital payments. If the trend continues and prompts widespread distaste for physical cash, the credit card industry is likely to benefit, along with payment firms like PayPal, and card-issuing banks.
Many countries such as China, Singapore, and South Korea have used digital currency to tackle this COVID-19. The U.S Congress has already given the initiative of the “digital dollar” which would be proceeded by the U.S government due to this pandemic. Facebook will also launch its digital currency “Libra”.
As when people will become adaptive to digital money they will not come back on paper money because digital money is easier to use and store. It means in the near future people will not have big bulky wallets instead they have their smartphones through which they can easily do the transaction. As Yang Dong, Director of Blockchain Research at China’s Renmin University, discussing COVID-19, said:
“ It is time to roll out the digital yuan ”.
Dong said in an interview with local newspaper China Daily:
“ Institutions and individuals will be more inclined to use non-direct contact transaction media including digital currencies in a short period of time, and this tendency will quickly form a user stickiness. Digital currencies will use this as an opportunity to accelerate Its distribution and application. ”
Changed trends of globalization:
COVID-19 will affect globalization directly. As it is the result of globalization that a man infected with SARS CoV-2 in Wuhan and now every person is at the risk of being infected with this virus. This thing urged the leaders around the world to rethink about the trend of globalization. If another virus comes in the future which is more contagious than the present one then the result will be more horrific.
As this pandemic ends we will see a huge change in trends of globalization. Developed countries in the west especially will establish local industries of basic necessities. Many countries will start to develop their own industries of health. Many industries that import products and parts from other countries will start trying to make these parts in the country where the industry exists. Multinational companies will try to grab the international market with the different trends of globalization.
Another thing is the involvement of automation technology in globalization will be increased. Supply chains will merge into more resilient ecosystems. As global supply chains have long been geared towards keeping quality relatively constant while driving lower costs at every step but there is always a risk that if one or a few sectors or countries face some difficulties then the whole supply chain will be affected.
For example, China scaling down due to Covid-19 and creating a knock-on supply impacts we are seeing today has exposed the lack of resilience in this approach. There is a sharp need for a more distributed, coordinated, and trackable supply of components across multiple geographies and vendors while maintaining economies of scale. This would require global platforms to be erected that use sophisticated technologies such as 5G, robotics, IoT (Internet of Things), and blockchain to help link multiple buyers with multiple vendors reliably across a ‘mesh’ of supply chains.
This will also have a knock-on impact on the adoption of self-driving cars and delivery drones as the demand for eCommerce logistics will be more than the number of drivers needed to fulfill them. The usual B2B (Business to Business) platform suspects such as Amazon and Ali Baba are likely to step up and compete for the ownership of this more sophisticated supply chain ecosystem in the next decade۔ Some experts give different ideas about this۔
As Mary Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington says:
“ To the extent that this crisis appears to be heading toward a global phenomenon, it is a nudge toward a different, more diversified globalization rather than less globalization. ”
Richard Baldwin, an international economist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, says:
“ This [epidemic] may end up as a great ‘teaching moment’ where we see that multilateral cooperation is essential, ”
“ Or it may be seized upon by nationalists as an excuse to further restrict trade and immigration, ”
Economic consequences and chances of growth in different sectors:
This COVID-19 will cause huge global economic loss. Every country’s GDP will be declined. Many industries will be shrink. The living standard of people as a whole will be lowered. Millions of people will be unemployed. As ILO said in its latest report:
“No matter where in the world or in which sector, the crisis is having a dramatic impact on the world’s workforce.”
Many businesses will be bankrupted but governments all over the world are planning strategies to tackle these economic consequences. But there is also a chance for growth of some businesses such as e-commerce and online services providers as Amazon has announced that it will be hiring 100,000 new full and part-time roles in its fulfillment centers and delivery network across the US to cope with the COVID-19 panic buying. Such businesses have also an opportunity to grow which provides a large amount of product in less amount.
Whenever the economic recession came there were opportunities for innovation as The Black Death in the 1300s broke the long-ingrained feudal system in Europe and replaced it with the more modern employment contract. A mere three centuries later, a deep economic recession — thanks to the 100-year war between England and France — kick-started a major innovation drive that radically improved agricultural productivity.
Fast forward to more recent times, the SARS pandemic of 2002–2004 catalyzed the meteoric growth of a then-small eCommerce company called Ali Baba and helped establish it at the forefront of retail in Asia. This growth was fueled by underlying anxiety around traveling and human contact, similar to what we see today with Covid-19. The financial crisis of 2008 also produced its own disruptive side effects. Airbnb and Uber shot up in popularity across the west as the subprime crises meant lower savings and income for the masses, forcing people to share assets in the form of spare rooms and car rides in order to cover the deficit. Doubling down on this trend, videogame business models rapidly changed as well, with 2011 seeing the rise of the free-to-play business model, thanks to “Nexon” in Asia and “King” in the west.
Another thing is that East Asian countries like China, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore can become new economic power as a union because the way they are tackling the COVID-19 crisis is very quick, organized, and effective. Thus their economy is not affected much than the rest of the world and when this pandemic will end these countries will have a good economy compared to other countries.
Post COVID-19 world will be different from the present one for sure. The thing is that we have to change ourselves. Every time in the past when catastrophe came people changed themselves then life remained to continue. If we become more adaptable to these circumstances, we will tackle these challenges quickly and easily.
“ It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
not the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. ”
― Charles Darwin