The best way to stay calm amidst the coronavirus madness is to focus on the present moment. Accept reality as is, realize you’re okay, and then handle the challenge at hand with direction and resolve.
The second best way is to time travel to the future. What will happen after all this is over? Can you imagine a more peaceful tomorrow? What good will come from this? There will come some good from this. It’s hard to see it now, but making the effort will give you something to aspire to in these dark times.
Of course no one can predict the future, but when I think about what positive, long-term consequences we could see from this pandemic, I spot a lot of potential. Here are 5 predictions to provide some comfort while we’re all stuck at home.
1. Cashless payments everywhere
In Germany, half of all payments are still made in cash. Half. Can you imagine? Who wants to carry around clunky, dirty coins and bills, which you constantly have to re-stock from an ATM in an inconvenient location?
Apparently a lot of people — but even those don’t want to pay in cash right now. No matter how advanced your country is in terms of paying cashless, chances are, the share of those payments — and the options required to enable them — will only go up from here. Humans are creatures of habit. Even the most die-hard cash fan might be swayed by the ease of swiping a card if they have to do it for several months.
It’ll be good for our hygiene, tracking our spending, and saving time.
2. Remote work for everyone
On paper, 40% of German companies allow employees to work remotely. The reality looks different, and it’s likely one of the factors why Germans are particularly unhappy at work. But now, even my dad works from home.
Especially small and medium-sized businesses usually only condone remote work in emergency situations. Even if it’s officially allowed, shifting towards more work from home will often get you weird looks and canteen whispers.
Your country might already be more open to remote work, but now, with everyone being forced to make it work (pun intended), I think we’ll likely see much higher acceptance rates for working from home after the virus passes.
Given most of us only need laptops and internet access anyway, I think more autonomy is a good thing. It’ll make us happier, and save everyone time and money. My dad definitely agrees.
3. (Even) better on-demand services and delivery.
In Munich, quarantined life isn’t so bad. We have Amazon PrimeNow, which delivers everyday goods within the same day. Some of our large grocery store chains also offer home delivery.
But if you’re stuck in a small town like my parents, you still can’t get any food without getting into your car. That’s bad, and it especially affects the large concentrations of older people in more secluded areas. For an 80-year-old woman, driving is dangerous enough as it is. Now, buying groceries might be a matter of life and death.
With millennials and younger generations already being used to the online ordering life, the trend here has always been clear. Coronavirus, however, might accelerate widespread availability of on-demand services and delivery around the globe.
Your doctor, optician, hairdresser — soon, they might all come to you. After this crisis, at least your groceries most definitely will.
4. Less spending on needless consumer goods
Call me crazy, but I think right now, people will remember what’s really important. Suffering, be it our own or that of others, prompts us to think.
Who feels like buying fancy clothes now? Who cares about VIP tickets? When you’re forced to reduce your expectations and stop living large, you gain space to reflect. A common conclusion is, “Oh, I never needed this to begin with.”
Suddenly, it’s enough to watch your children play. To read a book or talk to a friend on the phone. If you can’t fill your spare time with distractions, the only alternative is to spend it on what’s meaningful.
Granted, all this reduced spending might not be prolonged, and it might look bad on paper for the world economy — but I think in the end, it’ll turn us into better humans. We might even use more our resources to the benefit of others once we resume business-as-usual.
5. Improved global crisis management
While this will likely go down in history as the number one crisis in terms of how fast information was generated and spread with relative efficiency, many analyses and reports show there’s also lots of room for improvement in preparation and prevention.
Italy is one of the most advanced nations on the planet, and its healthcare system collapsed in the span of two weeks. Restaurant chain Vapiano filed for insolvency just two days after being forced to close most locations. 200 scientists had to write an open letter to the UK government to finally get them to take action.
If this were to happen all over again, I assure you everyone involved would do one or two things differently. At the very least, we should see larger stocks and emergency reserves of basic hygienic goods, medication, and medical equipment. But I think we’ll see much more. Just like 9/11 changed airport security forever, after coronavirus, healthcare will never be the same.