The permanent impact that COVID-19 has made on the economy, society, and culture is unprecedented. Entire industries have been shut down. Others have adapted to the extreme new environment by instituting changes to cope with the pandemic and, hopefully, slow its spread until widespread immunity is achieved and the threat dissipates.
While much of the change wrought by COVID has been devastating, there is always a silver lining to tragedy. In this case, that silver lining comes in the form of innovation.
Here is how COVID has revolutionized how we live our lives and what further changes we might expect moving forward.
The History of Pandemics and Social Change
Pandemics of infectious disease are certainly not new. Historical records of pandemics extend as far back as B.C. 400 with a recorded monumental outbreak in ancient Greece that killed 100,000. The Great Plague of Europe in the 1300s, arguably the best-known pandemic in history, may have eliminated up to 60% of the European population.
Each of these outbreaks of contagion has caused a chain reaction that significantly alters the most fundamental relationships that underpin society and culture.
Following the Great Plague and its enormous death toll, for example, wages for European workers rose in the aftermath due to a labor shortage. Incomes rose. Increasing educational opportunities and literacy rates, in turn, are largely credited with sparking the Renaissance and, indeed, modern Western civilization as we know it today.
What Changes Will COVID-19 Bring?
One of the biggest adaptations that COVID-19 has forced is how workers do their jobs. The social distancing measures put in place by various states and municipalities required employers to get creative regarding their business operations. One such creative solution has been remote work.
Prior to the pandemic, remote work had gained popularity steadily as internet connections improve and workflows are streamlined with the aid of technology. For many jobs, physical presence at an office is simply no longer necessary. The pandemic simply accelerated the work from home trend.
A similar trend can be seen in the proliferation of food delivery apps. Restaurants have been forced to limit dining options due to social distancing. Many have adapted by developing their own delivery apps or by utilizing increasingly popular apps already serving customers.
We have likely just scratched the surface of COVID-19-related changes and innovations. However, we can see by now that life will never return to the “normal” of 2019.