Face it. We may eventually survive COVID-19. But, two things are certain in our future.
First, COVID will be with us from now on. No matter what eventually surfaces in the vaccine market, it’ll still be there. Just like a lot of other viruses. We’ll learn to live with it just as we have colds and other common varieties of flu. It’ll continue morphing into new strains and we’ll rely on science to keep pace. We’ll invent new security methods of keeping it at bay. But, it’s not going away.
Second, the world as we knew it only a year ago will never return. When we get through this ordeal - and we will - it’ll be a different world.
Take jobs, for example. Thousands and thousands of sales jobs are gone. And, in many cases, they’re not coming back. During our sequestration, we’ve turned to the I-Net for many of our regular needs. From new shoes to grocery shopping to health care to buying cars. It’s going to be a whole new deal.
Take cars. Carvana is one of those places where cars are bought (and sold) on the I-Net. One of their locations is a few miles from us. Currently, they’re advertising to fill about 100 job openings. Sales will be handled by a new call center. Other staff will be delivering and picking up vehicles in the designated coverage area. Fewer sales personnel, no mechanics. Fewer admin and other support folks. And fewer brick-and-mortar car dealers.
With many major retailers taking out bankruptcies or going out of business, same story. Floor salespeople, fewer or gone. Admin support staff, smaller or gone. More brick-and-mortar stores closing. Entire malls vacant or up for sale. The retail apocalypse long predicted because of e-commerce appears to have arrived.
Business-to-business jobs are disappearing because of automation. So, more sales jobs lost. Office and administrative vacancies will not be filled. In the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, jobs most likely to be replaced because of new technology were not in manufacturing, as predicted, but in office and other support positions. As companies - large and small - downsize and turn to more technology, fewer people needed. Those jobs not coming back.
Take higher ed. Look at the shift to the I-Net. At our house, Barb has students all over the world trying to get advanced degrees. Online. She teaches for two universities. Higher ed institutions are designing many more online offerings. They’re not getting as much revenue support from local and state governments, so they’re turning to the I-net. Fewer professional ed staff, fewer support staff, lower costs per-student, reduced housing costs by going electronic. We may even see mergers of institutions and some historic campuses close for good.
How about “work-from-home?” Lots of companies have found certain jobs can be done with the I-net, resulting in lower overheads. Working moms can often skip costs of babysitters while spending more time with their kids. Also, no commuting costs. For thousands of parents, it’s a “win-win.” Employers can cut spending in reduced admin costs and lower overhead with less support staff.
How about air travel and hotels? Well, don’t look for any return to as many jobs as pre-COVID. Again, I-net. More travelers using the I-Net for their meeting needs. Lots of folks who used air travel for conferences and other group meetings are doing just fine with electronic gatherings. Business travel, according to those Census Bureau folks, found pre-COVID bookings accounted for about 70% of income for airlines and hotels. Look for a post-COVID world of fewer hotel and airline jobs.
Fewer travelers. Less need for so many airplanes. Again, a few miles from us, airlines are moth-balling hundreds of planes. And there are more such locations in five other states. United will cut 17,000 jobs next month. Delta another 12,000. Other airlines? Who knows? Will United and Delta and all the others be buying new planes when they’ve got hundreds they already own that can be quickly returned to service?
So, what happens to Boeing, Airbus and other aircraft companies? And their thousands of suppliers? Job cuts in the thousands.
Non-residential construction has already taken a hit. The old I-Net, again. With nearly all sections of the economy using I-Net and other assorted electronic conveniences, less higher ed construction, less retail and mall building. In addition, fewer cleaning companies and security folks.
Look for governments - from local to the feds - not only not rehiring for already vacant positions, but continuing hiring freezes and layoffs. They, too, have adjusted to current conditions and, using the I-Net and new software, working from home will likely continue, less building space will be needed and other adjustments will reshape the future.
Our world has always evolved. As we’ve aged, we’ve adjusted to the “new” as necessary. But, COVID hit us and our environment HARD! For many of us, our world just stopped. No eating out. No movies. No sports events. No church. No social events. No large family gatherings. Just “shelter-in-place” and stay there. Restrictions on our borders and nearly no international travel. Having to sequester for months. And, a lot more.
But, outside our homes, massive changes have already happened with more to come. Lots more. Our forced adjustments to almost everything in our lives will continue. How we individually accept and adjust will say a great deal about who we are and how we’ll face the future. Who’ll survive and who won’t.
These are dangerous, threatening times. But, we’ve faced dangers before in wars, pandemics, hurricanes, etc.. We’re still here.
That’s the really good news.