COVID-19 forces us all to a new way of living and working. Working and learning from home, online shopping, more leisure time and stress at the same time are only a few of the phenomena we all experience on ourselves. What exactly has changed and what will change permanently, and what chances will there be after Corona?
In order to get a feeling for the current situation and an assessment of possible scenarios, I invited my newsletter subscribers to a non-representative survey. The more than 50 responses from the German-speaking countries (and some English-speaking ones) were included in this survey. The majority of my subscribers come from a more technically affine environment and are therefore not representative for the general population. The survey is meant to be a mood survey.
Here are the six questions asked:
- What has changed for you personally and professionally? Which habits and tools have changed? How does it feel?
- How do you use the forced break and change of your routine if necessary? Do you have more free time with your family? Do you do sports? Are you learning new skills, and if so, which ones? Do you read more, watch more TV, etc.? Or are you completely overwhelmed?
- What does the coronavirus crisis offer you personally as an opportunity?
- Where do you see or expect social, economic, ecological, technological, etc. effects that will be permanent? Why?
- Which things that you think should change permanently will fall back into old habits or the old rut? Why?
- What does the coronavirus crisis offer us all as an opportunity? What should we not blow here?
And here are the summaries of the answers to these questions:
Most of them had already had experience with home office and video conferencing tools, and although they miss the interpersonal, personal contact, they also report a noticeable slowdown. Nobody misses the commute to work. Being together with the family is good for many. Some also struggle with technology and that their homes are not equipped for work from home, especially when several family members have to work like this. It is also a common feeling that it is slower to get to work, even if you work at least as much.
Zukunft lässt sich vorhersagen. Einigermaßen, mit einer gewissen Unschärfe jedenfalls. Diese Disziplin ist erlernbar und das ist zugleich die gute Nachricht. Das Buch umfasst ein strategisches Set an Werkzeugen das hilft nicht nur zu reagieren, sondern ermöglicht, von Anfang an die Gestaltung der Zukunft mitzubestimmen.
Others see it as an opportunity to pursue long-delayed projects and also to get things done for which they previously had no time or wanted to take time. Some read a lot more, do sports, take online courses or cook. Then there are those in system-relevant professions who are suddenly covered with work because every company must have online representations that have been postponed for a long time. The importance of more time with the family is mentioned and appreciated time and again. Not to forget the family people who are currently experiencing the best time of their lives.
The crisis has sharpened our focus on the essentials. Unnecessary purchases have been eliminated and are not missed. What was left behind is made up for, people are listening more attentively, many are questioning the effort and expense of some appointments in the past for which they had to travel extra. Some are also concerned with the future, not only their own, but with possible social, business and technological trends. Others appreciate the free allocation of time, the new structure they can determine themselves. You become master of your own schedule again.
Many expect that there will not be a return to normality, but that things will change. Unconditional basic income, social contracts, the way people work and what will be important will be discussed anew. Nor does anyone imagine that there will be a recession, probably a huge recession, and that it will take longer for everything to return to its pre-crisis level. Many are calling for the appreciation of systemically important occupations to be converted into practical measures and for higher wages to be paid. Many also expect a return to local offers, for example in terms of travel. All this is considered good for the climate, which the interviewees did not lose sight of despite Corona. They are concerned about how the expected mass bankruptcies will be handled.
There will definitely be a digital push, home offices will stay, business trips (at least temporarily) will decrease. Some also hope that we will finally learn from the crises and change the system itself, rather than going through a crisis every few years with the same actors and aid packages. The fear, however, is that governments and authorities are too absorbed by lobbyists and companies, so nothing will change here of all places. Some, by the way, expect permanent changes in terms of hygiene and people contact. Shaking hands could become a thing of the past. Many hope that solidarity between people and cohesion will remain. And while we are on the subject of solidarity: this is also what the respondents expect from the EU and EU members. And they believe that the state and state institutions should be valued. Especially in times of crisis, nothing works without them.
It may well be that the unexpected result of this crisis will be a series of new companies and a wave of start-ups, and that people will then know better what they really want in life and what a new normality in terms of a better society should look like.