THE NEW NORMAL
Life After the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Hiranmayii Awli Mohanan
On May 14, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) emergencies expert, Mike Ryan relayed in an online briefing that the coronavirus could become an endemic similar to HIV, and populations around the world would have to learn to live with it. We are wading through uncharted territory and while most of us just want things to get back to normal, the truth is, nothing will remain the same again.
In simpler times, heading out for groceries, a manicure or a casual drink or bite with friends was easy and uncomplicated. Now, in these new normal, public displays of affection like hugging, kissing or even shaking hands are no longer possible, which would eventually change our social behaviour and the way we interact.
As businesses, restaurants and public spaces are progressively reopening across the world, one evident difference is the ubiquitous placement of hand sanitisers, temperature checks and lines marked with tape to determine social distance. Some have even gone the distance to place sheets, creating a barrier between tables. This will subconsciously drill a practice to keep a good distance from each other. Takeaways and deliveries have been encouraged despite the option of dining in. We have also noticed since the cancellation of public, social and religious gatherings, people have adjusted and assimilated, opting for virtual alternatives such as via TV, video conferences on Zoom or Google Hangouts and social media. In fact, many concerts have shifted online.
When everyone across the world were forced to work remotely to flatten the curve of the pandemic, business and employees soon realised that technological advancements allowed those who work a desk job to continue performing at home. With an Internet connection, what was done in the office could now be easily executed at home. For industries like the media, writers and journalists can work remotely — all they need is the Internet and a laptop. Meanwhile, those involving front- line operations or fieldwork at construction sites, staggered working hours could be implemented to increase the physical distance between employees.
Bigger companies with more employees are also practising staggered working hours, which essentially means the employees arrive and leave the office at different times or days. Varying across organisations, staggered working hours could also mean that employees work in shifts, some attending work every other day or week. According to the experts, staggered working hours are not only effective to avoid traffic congestion but also practical to curb the spread of the coronavirus on the overburdened public transport during peak hours. The world has definitely changed and will probably build resilience t as the COVID-19 pandemic.