As the world slowly emerges from its quarantine-induced cocoon, one can’t help but marvel at how quickly things have changed.
The dangers posed by COVID-19 spurred advancements in every industry from food service to finance as workplaces were forced to adjust to ever-changing guidelines. Changes previously projected to take years took place in a matter of months, workers lost jobs to automation, and the rest of us found ourselves amidst a Zoom dominated landscape that shrank the world like never before.
The ongoing pandemic will have effects, many of which remain to be seen, on our culture for a long time to come, but a few trends seem to be emerging clearly from the rubble of our collective experience.
Remote work is here to stay
In a new report published by McKinsey Global Institute, an estimated 20-25% of workforces in advanced economies surveyed could work from home between 3-5 days a week with no loss in productivity. This is four to five times more remote work than pre-pandemic.
This shift isn’t just apparent in studies, though. Headlines detail skyrocketing home prices in inner US states to observe the growing trend of white-collar workers taking advantage of remote working conditions to upgrade their square footage. It will be interesting to see how this shift affects the high-salaries demanded by coastal cities as more talent moves inland.
Contactless is King; Convenience is Queen
Prior to the pandemic, much of our daily lives revolved around simple physical contact with friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers. We thought nothing about handling menus at our favorite restaurant or paying for a retail purchase with cash, but the advent of a virus that survives for hours on most surfaces has helped us adapt.
QR triggered menus, smartphone payments, and contactless delivery have become commonplace. Profits of online marketplaces like Amazon have shattered even the most optimistic pre-pandemic projections as consumers trade in-person interaction and examination of goods, for safety, convenience, and free shipping. Even as infection levels drop, all indicators suggest these behavioral changes are likely to last well beyond the final mention of COVID.
Prolific AI is no longer just science fiction
While we’re likely decades away from the self-aware automatons we see in movies, artificial intelligence has seen significant surges of advancement as businesses seek to maintain operations without fear of spreading contagion.
According to Learn Bonds data, the global AI software market is projected to jump from $22.6B in 2020 to $126B by 2025 – and that doesn’t include hardware using AI, such as drones, robots, and cameras.
Whether you are an early adopter, or a heels-in-the-ground hold-out, these trends will create the ultimate paradigm shift, making it more important than ever for businesses and leaders at every level to provide a clear vision of the road ahead.
The demand for flexible solutions that can weather the toughest storms has never been greater. Those who answer the call will be the ones to shape our future.