By Jim Preen
Crisis Management Director, YUDU Sentinel
Header image by Juliana Kozoski
What is the world going to look like post-Covid-19? Are we in for big changes or will we snap back to the way we were? Polling giant, Ipsos Mori, has been doing a little digging into our thoughts, dreams and nightmares as to how things might turn out. There are some surprising results.
Let’s start with a huge caveat: The pollsters themselves confirm that most predictions are wrong. Just five months before the pandemic hit, people were asked what they saw as the greatest threat to health. Chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes topped the chart at 32% with poor lifestyle choices coming a distant second. Infectious diseases scored a microscopic 4%.
Here are four contrasting C-19 signals that might indicate where we’re heading:
- Clapping for health care workers/rainbow signs in windows
- Special shopping hours for the vulnerable
- Looking out for elderly
- 30% growth in China Q1 gaming
- More exercise, more gardening
- More time on social media
- Virus originated in Wuhan lab
- US healthcare only for the rich
- Boomers care, but only about themselves
- Bad science
- Anti-lockdown demonstrations in the US
- Anti-vaxx campaign voices
- Ignoring lockdown advice
So how will these signals transmit into a post coronavirus world?
In the UK, we’re starting to see increased levels of surveillance. Ipsos asked whether people would support personal mobile phones being used to track those who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and those they come into close contact with, so they can be told to self-isolate. 65% agreed and 16% disagreed.
This may not be wholly surprising, but they also asked whether people would tolerate phones being used to detect whether individuals were following social distancing and the lockdown rules and if not, penalties would follow. Almost half said it would be fine with 29% opposed. You might think this was a major erosion of privacy, but clearly Covid has changed behaviour and some minds.
The pollsters also found what they call ‘data apathy’ with people voicing the view that there’s a trade-off: If you want to lead a normal life you have to forgo some privacy. This is instanced by the vast number of people who sign up for apps and online products and never check the privacy settings.
Some have suggested that SARS was a Covid-19 warning that went unheeded, but what if C-19 is in fact a warning about something far nastier coming down the track? Then mass surveillance could easily become the new normal.
Of course, many will take the opposite view and fear an intrusive big brother style government, particularly if Chinese levels of surveillance are introduced. Already we’re seeing the anti-lockdown demonstrations in the US. Mass surveillance is hardly likely to appeal to that demographic.
Never have Zoom and Skype and other communication channels been used so widely by so many. Some firms are discovering businesses can be run quite successfully without a traditional office. If this became commonplace, it would allow people to live further away, in perhaps a less expensive neighbourhood. Will offices become a hub where people meet occasionally rather than for eight hours, five days a week?
Some may quite like living a quieter more simple life at home. After C-19 many will be feeling the pinch financially and find living and working from home a much cheaper option and might not relish going back to the daily commute. Bosses with expensive offices may agree.
But again, there will be many who hate home working and are thirsting for the cut and thrust of office life. Where there might be a perceived gain for the introspective personality, more outgoing people will feel an important part of their life has been snatched away.
A changing world
Will traditional nationalism be in the ascendency? Will borders be sealed to keep out infections? At the time of writing there has been a spike of cases in Singapore after some travel restrictions were lifted. Migrant workers coming back into the country brought the virus with them causing a second wave of infections.
Or will the opposite hold true? Will the world feel that multinationalism is the only way to tackle future pandemics?
Keeping planes furloughed on the runway is expensive and it looks like many airlines will go out of business. But will this sector bounce back? It’s going to be tough. Flights are likely to be much more expensive; you may have to be screened before you’re allowed on board and perhaps monitored by phone apps on your journey. The days of mass air travel may be gone with a return to something more akin to the way we used to travel in the middle of the last century.
So many possibilities and predictions and statistically gazing into a crystal ball has usually produced just that: balls. Perhaps post C-19 we will live in a much more appreciative way and make the most of that which we previously took for granted. But one thing is for sure, we won’t be returning to the way the world was in January of this year any time soon; if ever.