The pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives and careers. On the other side of this disaster, we’ll soon see fast-growing new trends that will dramatically change things. This includes our health, the way we work, where we live, how we consume entertainment, shopping and dining habits.
Working From Home Is Here To Stay
The work-from-home experiment was an unexpected success. The ability of people to be productive and remain in contact with the colleagues and managers worked so well that companies such as Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Twitter, Google, Amazon and others have announced that they will continue this program. This is great news for many workers. They’ll no longer have to endure long, boring commutes—either stuck on the highway or squeezed into crowded busses and trains. They’ll enjoy a higher quality of work, as they take back three hours of time without the dreadful commute, spend quality time with their family, enjoy hobbies and attend events for the kids that they couldn’t do in the past.
Corporate executives recognize that their companies will save a fortune in rent, as their workers won’t need to be clustered together in office buildings. There won’t be a need to spend tons of money on high-priced real estate in expensive cities. They could have considerably smaller offices for those who need to be present at the office or simply desire to work in an office environment.
The money saved by the corporations can be used to further their business interests—perhaps, provide employees some much-needed raises and hire new people.
The Consequences Of The Working-From-Home Trend
The real estate market will be crushed as a consequence of this working-from-home trend. As big-paying clients keep their people at home, fail to renew leases and avoid signing long-term contracts for space, the prices of buildings in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other big cities will plummet.
This, in turn, will start triggering other events. The building owners will consider rehabbing their properties. They could turn the offices into rental properties or condominiums, which could help with the housing shortage. These office buildings could be turned into mixed-usage destinations that offer a combination of some office space, residential residences, stores, gyms and a host of other entertainment options.
As millions of people work out of their homes and spend all of their time there, they’ll want to make home improvements. They’ll look to buy the best computers, internet connections, desks, chairs, software and anything else that makes it easier to work and collaborate online with clients, colleagues and managers.
Companies that offer these types of products and services will greatly benefit from this fast-growing trend. Zoom, Slack, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Best Buy and other similar companies will do very well.
In addition to the business aspect, as you’re spending almost all of your waking hours at home, you’ll start looking to improve everything to make it as comfortable as possible. People will buy the coolest televisions, upgrade their furniture, remodel kitchens, add on extensions, such as an office and other accoutrements.
As there’s less commuting, there will be fewer cars and buses on the roads. Business travel won’t ever be the same. Why would a chief financial officer sign off on an expensive business trip, which entails air travel, renting a car, staying at a hotel and eating out for three meals a day, when you can easily hop on a video call? It’s less money and less of a risk—relative to catching Covid-19 or whatever virus stalks us next.
Consequently, we’ll spend less money on gasoline. The airlines have already admitted that they will be grounded for the foreseeable future. Families will be reluctant to take flights in fear of a Covid-19 resurgence. This trend will hurt the oil industry that’s already reeling from a price war—started by Russia and Saudia Arabia—and a decreased global demand, as businesses around the world have grounded to a near halt.
On a positive note, the environment will be a big beneficiary of the work-from-home trend, coupled with the cessation of air travel. There will be less pollution generated into the atmosphere. We’ve all seen the photos online that juxtapose the air quality in major cities today compared to how smoggy and polluted things looked before Covid-19.
The Great Migration Away From Big Crowded Cities
Suburbs and exurbs will soon benefit—so will states that offer nice climates, low taxes and open space. People will question the need to live in crowded cities where people are on top of each and more susceptible to catching viruses. New York City is an example of this. The city has been the hardest hit and it’s the most densely populated place in the country. It’s also an extremely expensive place to live.
One of the allures of big cities is the social aspect. This will change too. Eating out at restaurants, going to crowded clubs and bars and attending music and concerts won’t be happening for a while. When they do start up, there will be draconian measures put in place at these venues, which will make the outings feel weird and unpleasant. How much fun can you really have while wearing a mask and gloves and told to stay six feet apart from your friends?
Once people realize that they don’t have to pay exorbitant rents or a ridiculous amount for a house—along with crazy real estate taxes—just to be close to work and lament the degraded social experience, they’ll seek out new locations and move there.
They’ll relocate to cities and states that are cheaper, cleaner and nicer. Why remain in a cold, heavily taxed state when you’re no longer chained to your job because of the close proximity to work? You’ll soon be able to work at a company you’d like from wherever you want to reside.
It’s logical that sunny, less-crowded locations with lower costs of living and small tax bills will attract those who want to flee expensive, crowded, dirty and high-tax rate states. We’ll see a revitalization of smaller cities, suburbs and towns, as people will continue feeling leery of large crowds.
Some States Will Suffer
Many states were in bad financial straits before the pandemic. With companies forced to close down and millions of Americans unemployed, tax revenue for states precipitously plummeted. New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois and other states have been hit hard. They’ve been squeezed, having to spend money on fighting the outbreak while receiving less money in taxes that’s needed to keep things running.
The only solution for states is to both raise taxes and make some drastic cost cuts. Just like what happened to New York City in the 1970s, police officers, firemen and teachers will be let go to reduce expenditures. This resulted in the degradation of the city. There was a spike in crime, the schools became overcrowded and garbage piled up on the streets.
Cities and states that raise taxes—in addition to already high tax rates— along with a deteriorating quality of life will prompt people to move. They’ll migrate to states that are more accommodating. This will cause more pressure on the citizens who remain. They’ll need to pay even more taxes and receive less services, as the tax base flees elsewhere.
Healthcare Will Be A Priority
We’ve collectively realized that we’re not indestructible, can get very sick and die any day. It’s a sobering awareness. In the past, most people would wave off health concerns and feel it could never happen to them. Covid-19 made us painfully aware of the cold, harsh reality.
The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will boom as we’re hyper-focused on our health and safety. We’ll worry about new diseases arising and a premium will be paid on ensuring that we can stay safe and live long, healthy lives. Companies that offer products and services that offer healthcare solutions will benefit from our heightened awareness and desire for medical assistance.
Telemedicine has gained wide adoption during Covid-19 and will garner even more attention. Patients will love the fact that they won’t be forced to sit in a crowded doctor’s offices along with dozens of sick people breathing, sneezing and coughing.
We all know that the 1 p.m. appointment means the doctor will see you at around 2:30 p.m. or so. It’s rude, annoying and subjects you to catching whatever the other waiting patients have.
Compared to endlessly sitting in an uncomfortable waiting room with six-month-old magazines that everyone’s pawed over, getting a text alert while at home is a game changer. You can go about your business and life, get the notice that your doctor is ready to see you and your time is well spent.
A lot of small businesses won’t recover from being closed for so long. They unfortunately don’t have the money needed to keep their doors open and pay rent, utilities, salaries, insurance and carrying inventories of products without receiving any revenues. The huge companies, such as Amazon, Walmart and Costco, will keep getting bigger. They’ve been open while their small competition, which were deemed nonessential, stayed closed and missed out on all of the potential business. The beleaguered small chains don’t stand a chance against these monsters. Already, we’ve seen once-vaulted retailers, such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew, file for bankruptcy.
The airlines, hotels, resorts and restaurants will take a long time to recover. Some companies in these sectors will file for bankruptcy or become ghosts of what they once were. People will eventually venture out, but it will take a long time to feel completely comfortable again. Many people have fallen into the habit of purchasing everything online. Once these habits have been set, it’s hard to change them.
All of the companies that are in the supply chain for industries that are in the decline, such as airlines, will be financially hurt. If passengers aren’t showing up, there’s no need for United Airlines to buy Boeing’s planes. The parts suppliers to Boeing will see their business wither away.
Colleges Will Be Impacted
A large number of colleges will fail. Parents will balk at paying $30,000 to $70,000 for their kids to take glitchy online Zoom, pre-taped or YouTube classes. They’ll tell them to take a gap year or start out at a less expensive school and wait and see what happens next.
With the universities closed, they’ll lose revenue from sporting events and other activities that require large groups of people congregating together. Professors and staff will be fired. Colleges will be forced to reinvent themselves to keep their current students and lure in new ones.
Restaurants And Shopping Malls Will Suffer
With millions of people unemployed and those who have jobs worried about the safety of their positions, they’ll spend less money. This entails taking fewer vacations, holding off on buying a new car, iPhone, dining out and other other expenditures.
Restaurants will hurt as potential customers may not have the money to eat out. New rules will be restrictive and turn off customers. It’s not a pleasant experience to drop $100 on a meal with your family when everyone is wearing a mask and gloves, you’re made to stay far away from other customers and the waitstaff furiously disinfects everything in sight.
Shopping malls will be seen as a breeding ground for viruses due to people wandering around the place close to one another, touching and trying on garments that other people wore that day. Stores may not even allow you to try on the clothes. Similar to restaurants, it will be awkward and uncomfortable to stroll down the aisles at the mall where everyone wears a mask and gloves and most likely a security person will be monitoring your adherence to social distancing.
The new normal will benefit companies that offer products and services that help people who are working from home and make them feel safer and healthier. Those that depend upon travel and being in close proximity with a number of other people will have a hard time. The work-from-home trend will be a game changer in that it allows people more freedom and mobility, which will result in the depopulation of some cities and states and reinvigorate others.