COVID-19 is heartbreaking, and one would be hard-pressed to find any redeeming value in this ordeal. And yet, if you peek for a moment behind the grim veil of this episode, to your surprise, you may find some beneficial consequences of this crisis. While no one can predict the future, these may be some of the pandemic’s long-term benefits:
1. Cashless Payments Will Become the New Norm
Although last year feels like an entire lifetime ago, even then, cash was no longer king. Plastic cards and digital transactions had taken over as the preferred mode of financial transactions. And this new reality is increasingly being embraced by stores, restaurants, and other businesses.
COVID-19 has accelerated this trend for several reasons. First of all, it is difficult for cash to change hands at a distance of six feet, and besides, nobody wants to grab that unsanitized dollar bill anyway. Quarantining at home, by definition, means the purchase is made over the internet. And who wants to go to the bank unnecessarily?
The Federal Reserve reports that the most frequently used means of paying are now debit cards. And every age group up through the baby boomers are using plastic, and digital means, more than cash. The Pew Research Center recently found 29% of adults reporting that they made no purchases with cash during a typical week.
2. Working Remotely: Business as Usual
With the onset of COVID-19, companies were forced to make a rapid transition to working remotely. Now that it has become the norm during the pandemic, many companies are exploring how to convert working remotely into their new modus operandi.
In recalculating their bottom line, businesses are already thinking about less office space, less commuting, fewer business trips, shorter breaks, and greater focus for employees. And there are indications that remote workers are less apt to miss work days due to illness. It also opens up a host of new human resources opportunities as the company is no longer constrained to hire only workers who live near the office.
Remote working on a larger scale also offers companies the flexibility to deal with unexpected events in the future, such as the COVID-19 crisis. There is no question that remote working is here to stay and will become an increasingly integral part of the way we work. The only question is to what extent. Now is the time for companies to accelerate their preparations to embrace the new norm.
3. Improved Global Crisis Management
COVID-19 has been the catalyst to the most significant public health and economic challenge to the global community since World War II. However, by most measures, far too many have been slow and ineffective in their response. These ineffectual responses have exposed significant gaps in many nations’ preparedness and capability of managing such a massive crisis effectively.
Hesitancy- Resistance to declaring a crisis is normal. There is a fear of “crying wolf.” However, as has been seen, this over-caution fatally hampers recovery.
Planning and Supplies- PPE, ventilators, and test kits during critical periods of the crisis were in dangerously low supply.
Communication and Leadership- Propagating rumors and falsehoods, reactive responses and political recriminations, have undermined morale and divided us.
These are lessons we can glean from the current crisis that, if taken to heart, will allow us to respond far better in the future if necessary:
1. Unify Under Strategic Outcomes
The first principle of crisis response is to align and focus on the highest priority objectives. But focus and prioritizing objectives, while necessary, are insufficient. What is required is unifying organizations and nations around these objectives to integrate the members to maximize the response.
2. Take Rapid and Decisive Action
Crises demand quick adoption of solutions as well as adjusting successfully to failure. The key is to facilitate agility and flexibility.
3. Access Support More Efficiently
When a crisis occurs, governments need to know as quickly as possible what resources are available to them. Such information includes the awareness of organizations that can produce urgently needed supplies or provide altered services. This quick access requires organizing data and making it easily accessible beforehand.
Help Your Students Cope with the Crisis
The response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is unprecedented. Because of our unique role in children’s K-12 education including online speech therapy, we feel a responsibility to do what we can to assist schools, therapists, and students with this transition to online learning and seclusion. To ensure that our students remain engaged and supported, our therapists are providing complimentary “Support Sessions” to the country’s youth. We are also assisting schools by training their therapists for remote therapy.