Many have been saying that the post-Covid-19 world is going to be different. Everything from trade to restaurants to even the elimination of the handshake has been recently suggested. I am not sure how much, if any, pre-Covid practices will change. I do know that there will be changes related to technology, both in types and uses. Let me explore a few areas that will most likely change.
First, the most obvious: remote meetings. Remote meetings were not that uncommon before Covid-19, but many individuals and industries still had a strong preference for in-person meetings. These meetings include status updates, sales calls, quality audits, planning sessions, etc. While certain in-person activities may never be replaced (certain types of audits have to be in-person on location), but many more meetings will simply be done by video conferencing. I think many people are realizing that certain types of meetings are not significantly negatively affected by being remote. For businesses that have partnerships and clientele all over the world, this means costs in air travel, hotel rooms, meal stipends, etc (not to mention just plain human time) can be drastically cut. At the very least, many employees, especially those old-school types, are getting their first real taste of video conferencing on a regular basis and are finding ways to live with it.
On a related topic is remote events. With mass gatherings all over the world banned, in-person events like conferences or educational programs have been struggling. These events represent significant portions of revenue to the hosts and critical networking, deal making and educational opportunities for attendees. As such, the idea of a virtual conference has really taken off. A number of conferences that were scheduled for this spring and summer have converted to virtual rather than rescheduling or canceling. I have attended a couple since the lockdowns began and the creativity and process of putting together a virtual conference has developed tremendously over the past couple of months. Not only do virtual conferences provide multitrack informational and educational programs, but they also are creating networking opportunities and hands-on workshops. The last virtual conference I attended included a break period where you could join different private rooms on various small talk topics such as “Pet Lovers” and “Outdoors.” The number of participants was capped to allow for interaction without chaos. It actually worked really well.
I also think the concept of “local” is going to change a bit. While Covid-19 has posed interesting political questions from our relationship to other countries to the differences between different U.S. states, there is an element that the rapid increase in technology combined with the rapid decrease of in-person contact may create. If local is what you interact with on a daily basis, then physical location becomes less important. If local is what you can reach quickly from your home, then again physical local becomes less important. Through this process, the concept of having a close friend that you have never met in-person has become less strange. Even our co-workers will mostly likely be more spread out after the coronavirus. Many companies are planning to leave in place certain remote working rules because quite frankly, they worked. It will be interesting to see how we continue to view the concept of local and community in the near future compared to the near past.
Hopefully we will be allowed to open up back to our normal lives very soon (and hopefully we remember how people should interact with each other when we are in-person). How deep of a mark Covid-19 will leave is still yet to be known, but I am fairly confident that technology will be adapted at a faster pace because of it.