I know it may not seem like it now, but there will come a day when this pandemic is over. What will the future look like? Will we always be wearing masks? There is talk of going back to “normal” but what does “normal” mean? Can we ever be normal, will we ever get back to normal? I can only speak for the United States as it is my home country, and although it is a fool's errand to try and predict the future, I will attempt to offer five possible changes that may be made within the U.S.. Let’s hope this article ages well.
1. Masks will become commonplace in the U.S.
Before the pandemic, if you saw someone wearing a mask, you would assume they were sick. However, after the pandemic is under control it is reasonable to assume that the U.S. will follow in the footsteps of their brethren in the East, and masks will become ubiquitous. Not just people with weakened immune systems but everyone who may have been exposed to any type of viral illness will be wearing them for protection.
2. Zoom forever!
The pandemic has accelerated many technological trends and it will continue to affect the course of innovations, but one thing seems certain: Zoom meetings will become a part of “business as usual”. In person meetings will be reserved for only the most crucial matters when businesses realise they do not need to send their employees around the world to meet with people physically when they can connect instantly with just one click.
3. No cash, please
The U.S. government recently announced that they will replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill, but I believe that in the future, many businesses may not even use cash in daily transactions. The pandemic is already accelerating a trend towards cashless payment options like credit cards and "Apple Pay."
4. More vaccinations
School districts and businesses may become very strict when it comes to who has to be vaccinated. The days of waivers for "anti-vaxxers" may be over, and anyone who is a student or a working professional may be required to be vaccinated with no exceptions.
5. Limitless Learning permanently?
Higher education has been itching for change for a long time. I have been an online student through Hult's "Limitless Learning" platform and I believe that this will become much more common in universities all around the globe. The fact that this was possible made people question whether or not they can have the same quality of higher education for a more affordable price without even leaving the comfort of their own homes. This might encourage more people to obtain college degrees, even the ones who might not have otherwise gone to college.
So it appears we won't be going back to normal and that this pandemic will have permanent effects on nearly all aspects of our professional and social lives. Maybe these changes will be a net positive in the long term; only time will tell.