1. Life will largely go back to normal
Every time I go travelling to some remote place where life is slower and everything is cheaper, I come back to London resolved to spend less money on such extravagant things as takeaway coffee and workout classes when I could easily go for a run or find something on YouTube. I vow not to buy clothes and cycle to work more often. I promise myself not to order overpriced wine at the theatre and just enjoy the art. These resolutions don't last a week.
Let's face it: once we are allowed to go out again and go back to some modified version of the previous routine, life will largely go back to normal. Sporty people will exercise more, couch potatoes will abandon their attempts at Zoom yoga as soon as the hype dies down. Health evangelists will buy organic, cook from scratch and monitor their quality of sleep, while the rest of the population will live off Deliveroo and easy meals. People who love being sociable will organise parties, BBQs and pub quizzes. Introverts will stay at home loving the fact that they choose, rather than are forced, to do so.
Postmen, bus drivers, doctors and nurses, cash till operators and rubbish collectors will get their thank yous from people who always thank them. They will still be shouted at by some others.
Someone I knew had bone marrow cancer. He was an investment banker - a stressful job with long hours, unhealthy lifestyle and superiors with pretty poor management skills. He recovered... and went back to banking. Plus ça change.
2. Cash will be out
It's been a long time coming and finally cash economy received a fatal blow. I predict that in developed economies we'll go completely cashless just like they did it a decade ago in Iceland. Here in Britain some retailers were still insisting on minimum spend to accept cards, while some self-employed demanded cash for their undeclared services. The UK government offered a rescue package to self-employed promising to pay up to £2,500 a month or 80% of the average monthly profit for the last three years to anyone with trading profits of up to £50,000 a year. That is incredibly generous - if only every hairdresser, handyman and cleaner was honest with the taxman in the first place.
I hate carrying cash and have been long applauding businesses which went "card only" before the lockdown. Portable card readers, card companies and mobile-only banks will benefit from going cashless as will we all from avoiding dirty banknotes.
3. Gloves will be in
When did we stop wearing gloves? In the last novels I read set in Russia in the XIX century and in the 1948 England upper and middle class women wore gloves. I predict that pretty summer gloves will soon pop up in your Instagram feed.
4. Telemedicine will finally become widely adopted
Lockdown is a strange time. You get a cough or chest pain and yet because you aren't critically ill - gasping for breath or unable to bring down high fever - you can't see a doctor with a stethoscope. This is definitely not normal. However, when I wasn't well, I was able to call my GP surgery and a doctor called me back using WhatsApp's video function. I received medical advice just an hour after I called for help and I got it remotely. Normally, it takes 7-10 working days for me to get an appointment, and then a GP would refer me to a specialist. That is nonsense. Clearly, there are lots of conditions which need to be examined face-to-face and you can't get a jab remotely but telemedicine is extremely useful to deal with many maladies.
What's interesting is that my GP used WhatsApp. Perhaps fancy telemedicine startups like Babylon Health have overcooked their solutions to the most acute problem - access to a doctor.
5. What good leadership looks like will change
I don't read many Harvard Business Review articles on management and leadership, yet it's impossible not to pick up on an academic shift away from charismatic "save the day" superheroes towards practical, empathetic kind of leaders we really need.
Covid-19 set the world to rights.
In politics, caring, compassionate, decisive and prudent leadership of Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern appear in stark contrast to high octane, shambolic, "essay crisis" style of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin who has self-isolated in a cosy dacha with open fire and pretty Easter cakes will hold on to power but he will never recover his popularity.
In business, it's managers who overcommunicated, showed empathy and acted early and decisively, will harvest staff loyalty, productivity and better performance from their teams. We will see a shift in values in all spheres of life which will hopefully trickle down to electoral booths.
6. Masks will become ubiquitous
Do you remember when we were first ordered to organise toiletries into 100ml bottles and take just a small bag of them on a plane as hand luggage? We aren't quite convinced it helps prevent terrorist attacks but we got used to travelling this way. We don't mind it much at all.
Masks will probably be enforced on public transport, flights and, who knows, perhaps even in theatre. Entrepreneurial folks will be selling masks outside popular attractions like Sagrada Familia or Pyramids of Giza. Why, I can even see a basic face mask included in the entrance ticket to Westminster Abbey!
Masks are uncomfortable and I would much rather have a shift in public consciousness so that contagious ill people would stay at home than potentially infect us but unless companies make it a rule that you mustn't travel to then office if you are sick, unless yoga studios allow you to cancel a class for free last minute if you wake up feeling unwell, people will keep "soldiering on" and spreading the viruses in public places.
I remember getting my nails done in December. The technician was ill with watering eyes and sneezing constantly. She wasn't wearing a mask. I could either lose money (because I had booked in advance) and risk ending up without a manicure in the busy pre-Christmas period or I could hope for the best. I stayed and luckily I didn't get infected, however, I will never behave so carelessly again. Nail art might be someone's livelihood but not at the expense of my health.
7. Content will forever be king but it will change
You know when someone recommends you a novel or a TV series and says: "You've got to persevere a little bit, it gets better after the first 100 pages / couple of episodes." Such stories will not survive.
We are already spoilt for choice when it comes to books or filmed entertainment because it takes just a couple of clicks to order a new book on Kindle or check out a new show on Netflix. The lockdown caused by the pandemic has also had an effect on our tastes. When I pick up a book, I want it to grab me and not let go (until it's mealtime). When I watch TV, I don't have the patience to persevere either. I want to be entertained and enthralled; I want a proper switch from BBC News. A kid put in front of an iPad by exhausted parents will have to get hooked instantly, and the same applies to adults. Storylines will have to become more gripping.
In fiction, I recommend Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes by Guzel Yakhina, Small Island by Andrea Levy or The Book Of Dust series by Philip Pullman. Watch Quiz (on ITV Hub in the UK) for filmed entertainment.
8. Travel will become more of a luxury.
Travel is where my crystal ball betrays me. I want everything to go back to just as it was: cheap flights and hostels, low insurance premiums, frequent and careless weekend aways and the world staying open without travel permits and other virtual borders. But that's very unlikely. My rational mind tells me that flights will become expensive, hostels will be banned, travel insurance policies will become mandatory and expensive. Most countries will require you to produce a health passport showing that you've been vaccinated against Covid-19 if that's possible.
Travel will become much more of a luxury, like it used to be for the generations before us. City breaks will be less popular than quiet retreats in the middle of nowhere. This is because Paris, London, Rome and New York will be full of masks reminding us of Covid-19 and the unease of the lockdown. By contrast, in nature it would be possible to surround yourself with mountains, meadows and the sea and pretend that the pandemic of 2020 never happened.
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