Week 5: What will tomorrow bring? 15 ways life will change as we know it.
OK, what’s next. We are all so ready for the new normal, whatever that may be. While we have been putting on our happy faces, I wonder how my kids will view this time of shelter-in-place. Overall we’ve been very lucky, we are healthy, our basic needs are met and we can’t complain.
So many events have had to be canceled or postponed — reunions, weddings, concerts and performances, competitions, sports and more. I am sad for each of my kids who, along with millions of their peers around the world, were each expected to celebrate their academic achievements this year — a graduation from college, a graduation from high school and an 8th grade promotion — accompanied by all of the social events and gatherings that the end of year brings.
While my husband and I have enjoyed more of their company during this time, my kids are missing out on special moments with friends that would have marked their rite of passage. We have been taking copious notes from other parents who are also trying to figure out how to make this time special despite the situation. From celebratory lawn signs and drive-bys to special deliveries and multi-generational video chats, we’re trying to find ways to surprise and delight and keep the kids’ spirits up.
In my conversations with parents, it has been hard not to speculate on what tomorrow might bring. I’ve summarized our discussion in this list of 15 ways life has changed and how we think these changes will play out in the future.
- Our personal, family and professional roles blend a little (and more often).
Our current inability to keep them completely separate helps others see us as human, reminding us how similar and connected we are. Our memory of this time will hopefully help us to actively seek out ways to connect on a personal level and make us comfortable to do so.
2. Greater global connectedness.
Every age demographic has become a little bit more tech-savvy, with smart device usage on the rise. Higher comfort level with technology for all age demographics will enable greater access to information, and also greater reach for information providers.
3. Face-to-face will become more meaningful.
With technology, the number of ways we have to connect with others has increased. In the future more will opt for the immediacy of distance connecting (and include individuals from several locations at the same time). But it won’t completely replace face-to-face which will be more intentional and therefore more meaningful.
4. We’ll be more spontaneous.
While disease containment and health safety remain fluid, there will more short term than long term planning. Everyone will become more willing to make last-minute decisions and perhaps become more spontaneous. Some may have developed coping skills that increase their ability to tolerate uncertainty, and some may have learned to be less fearful, willing to take risks and try new things.
5. Our cooking has gotten better or we’ve learned that there is no hope.
Recipe exchanges and the increase in sales of breadmakers indicate a return to the kitchen to revive or indulge in culinary crafts. If not, many have discovered meal-kit delivery and the use of such services is on the rise.
6. Life will take on more urgency.
A slower pace of life has perhaps made us realize what we were missing, but once we are past this crisis we may amp up the pace to make up for lost time. With recent memory of how quickly life can change from week to week, we may become less willing to leave for tomorrow what can be said or done today.
7. Parents will have more options for creating work/life balance.
While work from home has been on the rise, it has not always been prevalent for all roles, genders, and career paths. Our situation is pressure testing our beliefs in what works, allowing us to define a new normal. All companies will assess their remote work policies, becoming more flexible about how people work from home, and will become more intentional about what needs to be in person.
8. More will be done from home.
We’ve learned to adapt to a digital-first world, pushing our boundaries and shifting our habits (in some cases) for good. New brands, retailers, and services we discover online during this time may become our go-to’s in the future. We’ve learned to enjoy the immediacy and convenience of digital commerce so that even after we cease shelter-in place more will be done from home.
9. Summer plans will remain fairly local.
Recreational or vacation travel will be closer to home (within driving distance) where there is more certainty that plans can be kept without interruption. People have discovered and explored more local venues for hikes, rides, and walks during the last few months.
10. With friendly smiles covered, body language will become more important.
We will all be wearing masks when we go out. A smile will not be as noticeable, and we’ll wonder why we don’t get the same reactions we normally do when we look at people we pass on the street. We’ll need to become more conscious of using body language (head nods or hand waves) to compensate and casually connect with passersby.
11. Kids can learn in a way that best suits them.
Education may allow more ways to cover the curriculum, whether it’s in-person classes, synchronous video chat sessions, or asynchronous assignments. Hopefully, this flexibility will enable us to tailor future school experience to our children’s ideal learning modalities.
12. It will be ok to take a gap year.
While the situation on college campuses remains fluid, post-high school plans may become more varied, allowing teens to plot alternative paths forward with less peer-induced stigma.
13. As a society, we will consume even more media at home.
With all of the free trials available, I’m certain more people have sampled streaming than ever before. Disney Plus reached 50 million subscribers, 4 years ahead of forecast, and other services may enjoy similar success. We helped contribute to this number by watching all of the Marvel movies through Avengers: Endgame, in chronological order over the past 3 weeks.
14. Social and emotional well-being gains priority at work and school.
Life has tested us all in unforeseen ways, and many have met the challenge with humor, compassion, and resilience. However, the stress of our collective situation has taken its toll on everyone, and there has been a broader acknowledgment of the need for emotional support for even the strongest in our midst. Hopefully “SEL” will be prioritized for our workforce of tomorrow.
15. Generations will be better “connected”.
Our situation has become a forcing function for learning new tools and developing new habits. Frequent video chat check-ins with extended family members living in cities across the US have ensured that all generations are properly trained to maintain a connection between grandparents and grandchildren and everyone in between, as the grandchildren grow up.
Any thoughts you’d like to share regarding how life will change in the future? Let me know!