I think there will be a new normal that will emerge out of the coronavirus crisis. Many of the changes that we will see are not drastic sea changes but instead a more rapid path to what was becoming inevitable.
1) The church will go back to the future
The church that is talked about in the Bible did not have an edifice or a building as we understand the church to be now. They met in each other’s homes and in different gathering places. The Greek word for church in the New Testament is ekklesia (or ecclesia). It comes from ek, meaning “out from and to” and kaleo, meaning “to call.” It is a group of people called out from one place and to another – a group of people who have been called out of the world and to God; that is the church. The church was the people, not the building. This crisis and the hardship that it is and will continue to cause will remind the church of its roots and the fact that the church is a gathering of people not an empty building. The fact of the matter is that some of those buildings will remain empty even after the crisis because of the harsh economic realities that we are all facing, but that shouldn’t stop the spread of the gospel, as a matter of fact it should encourage it even more.
2) Office and home will become one and the same
I have been self-employed and have worked from home since 2006, so the shelter in place aspect of the pandemic has not completely disrupted my every day routine. However, for those who are still tethered to a cubicle or an office, working from home for more than a couple of days may have come as a complete shock to the system.
There are some workers who are not tech savvy enough to be able to do all that they need from home. Some may have the technology available but not the skills required to be productive using them. This is a Darwinian event for the use of technology for remote productivity. If necessity is the mother of invention, then she is also at least the aunt of autodidactic training. People have had to sink or swim in trying to figure out how to get everything accomplished that they were used to getting done in the office.
This new normal isn’t about change for the sake of change as much as it is about survival.
I believe that when the dust settles, companies are going to rely on that surge in free “training” to cut the expenses associated with gathering employees in a particular place and move toward home work environments. The world was well on its way to that model anyway. Companies that survive may find themselves opting for this arrangement in an attempt to cut costs. And speaking of cutting costs, stay-at-home workers will invariably be paid less and will have to take it because there will be little to no alternatives in the short term.
3) The media middleman will be no more
Some Hollywood films are not being released in theaters during this time because of the shelter-in-place provisions by many states. Instead, these movies are being released on streaming services like Netflix and Apple TV.
Netflix, Apple TV and Hulu are hybrid companies in that they are both middlemen and media companies – they both buy content from media companies and create content of their own. Large media companies that are content creators are going to now go directly to consumers with their content.
We see this happening with Disney. The Disney+ app was launched earlier this year and the media conglomerate is clawing back content from middlemen like Netflix in order to offer their content exclusively on their own platform.
Disney also owns ESPN and the ESPN+ app. Since live sports are pretty much non-existent now, the ESPN+ app has seen a surge in use while ESPN network’s viewership has suffered. The ESPN+ app also offers live programming from the ESPN networks, provided you have a cable package to connect. Look for ESPN to eventually offer its live programming directly to the ESPN+ and cut the cable companies out of the equation.
4) The college classroom will be carried around in your backpack
Online learning is certainly not new in higher education. The pandemic has caused virtually every college and university in the country to cut classes short for the spring semester with no real understanding of how this will impact the summer and fall. Out of necessity, the nation’s entire collegiate student body has gotten a crash course in online learning.
Due to costs, convenience and well I’ll say it again — costs — there won’t be a return for many to the traditional classroom.
5) Dancing by myself with the whole world is kinda D Nice so why would I go out?
On a recent Saturday night, DJ D Nice threw an online party on Instagram Live that the whole country showed up to. He spun old-school R&B and Hip Hop hits from his apartment for more than eight hours. My wife and I were lying in bed listening to him with my phone connected to a Bluetooth speaker. She kept getting out of bed and dancing every time one of her jams came on.
The interesting thing about it was that every time someone famous “entered the party,” D Nice would shout them out on the mic. Michelle Obama, Jay Z, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Mark Wahlberg and host of other celebrities popped into the virtual set. I’m not gonna lie, it was kinda cool to think that I was, well my wife was, dancing to the same songs as these folks at the same time.
Due to costs and convenience,there won’t be a return for many to the traditional classroom.
Imagine the virtual reality possibilities of something like this. One day soon, you might even be able to virtually dance with Michelle Obama unless the cyber secret service are there.
This is the tip of the iceberg of online entertainment. Who knows what the long-term implications for live music and parties will be.
6) The mall may now function as an indoor walking course
Online shopping has been here for a long time and it is growing every day. This crisis may finally do to brick-and-mortar retail stores what Amazon did to brick-and-mortar bookstores. In the same vein, many sit-down restaurants may become warehouses for Door Dash.
As I stated before, all of these things were headed in that direction anyway. This new normal isn’t about change for the sake of change as much as it is about survival. One good thing about the crisis is that it is giving all of us around the world an opportunity to sit still for a moment and reflect on what is truly important to us. It’s giving us a chance to take a good look at our priorities, and even shifting of those priorities. That will be of paramount importance as we move into whatever is in store for us in the new normal.