Enduring Changes from the Coronavirus Pandemic
Psychological and practical implications.
Posted Mar 25, 2020
The pandemic will cause other major enduring changes. Being aware of them can help psychologically as well as in career and life planning.
Telecommuting. It’s long been argued that it’s atavistic of employers to insist that employees endure the ever-longer commute, especially for the privilege of sitting in a cube farm where concentration is near impossible for anyone, let alone for someone with even a touch of ADD. That's especially true in our era of easy tele- and videoconferencing.
The Great Shutdown’s long-term drag on the economy will force employers to finally change their hidebound ways. Ever more people will telecommute, and employees will satisfy their social needs with virtual water coolers plus live get-togethers. Employers will finally realize that as long as employees get their work done, it doesn’t matter if they’re taking a couple of hours during the “workday” for an outing with friends, to watch their kid’s soccer game, or play Minecraft.
Video meetings. This is a corollary of the previous. Countless people endure long drives and flights for in-person corporate pep rallies, sales calls, and conventions. Those will be heavily replaced, for example, by virtual conventions, complete with virtual wine-and-cheese dos: where, from the comfort of your home, you’ll see all the attendees and can click on whomever to chat. (You will have to supply your own wine and cheese.)
Online education. Another absurdity that the corona calamity will goose away is the belief that in-person education is a net plus compared with online classes. (Think of those boring college lecturers you paid so much money to listen to.) At the high school and certainly the college level and in employer-sponsored training, learning would improve while being more pleasurable if the nation spent even a tiny fraction of the CoronaSpend on creating immersive, interactive, individualized courses convened by the world’s most transformational instructors. The competitor, the status quo of live teaching, is weak: The nationful of teachers is subject to the normal curve: A few are magnificent, lots are average, a few are terrible. With online courses, every student from Maine to California, even from Abyssinia to Zululand, would get world-beating education. Students would sign in using fingerprint login and get mini-quizzes throughout the day, Scaled down high-school and college campuses would exist for socializing and extracurricular activities. Such a model would improve learning and pleasure, at dramatically lower cost than our hyperlarded, administratively leadened school systems and college campuses.
Concerts and shows. Pirating of music and movies has caused performers to try to make a living by performing live. But the cost has become crazy—often hundreds of bucks a ticket, even if you’re not dealing with the scalpers. Even parking can set you back $20—If you can get there: The line even to pay the 20 bucks is often serpentine. Virtual concerts and shows using already available technology such as Facebook Live will enable people to effortlessly see the coolest concerts and shows at a fraction of the price.
Job loss. I’ve saved the worst for last. Alas, the likely long-term decline in the economy will accelerate employers’ use of automated solutions: A robot can’t contract coronavirus and never takes a sick day nor requires the likely government-mandated, heavily employer-paid “Medicare for All."
My tea leaves say that the smart money for non-stars will be in government employment because government continues to grow (Some would say “metastasize”), and in microniched self-employment. An example appropriate for the Psychology Today readership is relationship counselor specializing in interracial LGBT relationships.
Are there any implications of the above for your psychological or practical well-being?
A cautionary note: Especially in these rapidly changing times, predictions are risky: As they say, they who live by the crystal ball eat broken glass. Caveat reader.