A Fundamentally Reshape – Life After Covid19

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The Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways over the past few months. But what could life look like once lockdown ends, and what will be our ‘new normal’? A question that distracts my mind even time I watch over the streets from my balcony. I have been in the Middle East for the last decade and Eid Celebration here are the Christmas’s of the West and the New Year’s of the Communists, but covid has set the new normal.

We’ve been in lockdown since mid March, and many of us are feeling restless for change. And the world is changing so rapidly that this time last week feels like years in the past. Over the last few months alone, we have seen unprecedented changes to every part of our lives. But how could these changes impact us in the long term? Could temporary laws lead to bigger cultural shifts further down the road? And are any of our new habits here to stay?

To me there are more questions than answers surrounding the future, culture shifts amid admirations of a new world order. The WHO has not yet approved any vaccines which interprets to more days of social distancing, zoom meetings, isolations and most annoyingly the poking of the nose, have personally done it twice and I am not psychologically ready to do it again, to me it’s the pandemic, the fact that I cant shake hands with my peers in the African way.

As a laptop based writer the pandemic is just more days and time behind the laptop and more hours of research and Netflix, I spoke to a few friends in other professions, workers’ rights, the economy, workplace culture and mental health in order to better understand the possible long-term implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers’ rights/Job security.

From a human resources perspective, the novel coronavirus is seen as a leveller. People from all kinds of backgrounds have tested positive for the virus – from political figures, to our own friends and neighbours, to celebrities. But on the flipside, the virus has also put inequality into sharp relief. If more and more people have become reliant on government support like, quarantine facilities, Universal Credit, reporting systems among others, the public’s perception of the welfare system is shifting, and workers are finding it more convincing to use the government facilities unlike previously when the insurance companies dictated the facilities you frequent. It is time people start thinking: Is this good enough for me? And if it’s not good enough for me, is it good enough for anyone else?

The employer haven’t been left easy, this is evident enough when we look at who is able to work from their living rooms to stay safe, and who has to brave the metros or burn gas. Or when we contrast the circumstances of permanent workers with those in a less secure position. In my own opinion, while we’ve all got the challenge of staying safe, some people are in a better position than others because of the type of contract they’re employed on or because of the patterns of their work or their rate of pay, adding that it’s now clearer than ever that people employed by workplaces with trade union agreements have better redundancy protections.

Office culture

For most people in professional jobs, social distancing has meant a total shift to working from home – something many employees would have liked the opportunity to do pre-Covid-19, but hadn’t been allowed to. If Zoom meetings and Slack discussions go off without a hitch, could the concept of the home office be here to stay? It makes sense to me that if employees can work from home and still maintain the same kind of productivity, which is questionable and we need to lauch the KPIs to understand the impacts. Employers are going to wonder why we should come into the office.

Businesses may then shift to having smaller, flexible office spaces, or sections of co-working spaces dotted around the country in a far more distributed way, on the long term effect this could mean less time on traffic and transportation. Big city offices would be used less, and could become more like flagship stores or flagship offices, which employees might visit a few times a year for whole-company events, he says. Businesses may then shift to having smaller, flexible office spaces, or sections of co-working spaces dotted around the country in a far more distributed way.” However on the flipside people working remotely could also expose ‘cracks’ in some company’s structures. “If you have a culture where people don’t deal with their conflict very well, and you move to remote working, then that’s going to get elevated’.

Mental health

People have been confined in their housing for long enough to have a mental breakdown, a chat with a friend over the phone reveals, My text finally arrived at 3.09pm this Monday. Can your heart sink while simultaneously feeling a sense of relief? That’s what happened to me. The message, from the Coronavirus task force, said I’d been ‘identified as someone at risk of severe illness if you catch the novel coronavirus’.

It gave strict instructions. ‘Please stay at home for a minimum of 12 weeks. Home is the safest place for you. Staying in helps you stay well and that will help the taskforce. You can open a window but do not leave your home and stay three steps away from each other indoors. Wash your hands more often, for at least 20 seconds.’ It finished with a link for more advice for the ‘extremely vulnerable. In a period where our safety – and the safety of our loved ones – is under threat, anxiety can feel like the new norm. But what will the long-term impact of living with intense uncertainty and isolation be?

I understand the stigma around it when even the deliveryman leave you food on the door step and steps back 5 steps just to be safe. This kind of fear is that the mental health impact, and wider social effects, of the outbreak could lead to more suicides. We know that financial pressures lead to isolation, and then self-medication, and then suicide very often.

The economy

Most governments around the world have pledged to cover 80% of the medical costs of their citizens and this is a death bed for the economy which translates to moving previously allocated budgets to the health kitty and stopping non urgent development plans. But, while this is a promising start, new measures don’t yet cover all the costs that are needed for an out-of-commission business to stay afloat during the crisis.

What will the knock-on effect of widespread business closures and lay-offs be? What happens when more people than ever are forced to claim benefits? Are we heading for another worse recession like the 2008 financial crisis? Covid-19 tips us further into that recession, so we will definitely have a recession or an economic downturn of some form, but he fundamental question is whether it’s just a dip and then you come out of it quite rapidly, or whether it’s something much longer. This depends on how long it is before things go “slightly more back to normal”.

Another important aspect to not at this point is that we might be shifting towards becoming a cashless society, paying for goods such as coffee using only debit or credit cards. One other possible knock-on effect of our isolation could be the total demise of cash, in certain stores now, you hand over a note and they look at you and say ‘No, no, no, we don’t want that – we want you to use contactless because it’s safer for us’, I find its of no use to carry cash around nowadays, so this might be a shift towards a cashless society, and banks should be more prepared than ever to tackle more and more transactions and cyber crimes.

In my closing remark, corona pandemic is not easing out any soon and the aftermath shakes and tremor will be with us till the 3rd quarter of 2021, it all boils down to individuals; we must find other ways of survival, multi-tasking, creating other income generating avenues and most importantly cutting cost when necessary.

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