Here are 5 areas of our modern world that will likely never look the same post-COVID-19:
1. School System. Beyond simply altering the way we do business and introducing us to new levels of flexibility in our work, COVID-19 is forcing us to apply these same lessons to the schooling system which has seen little evolution across the last few decades. The idea that school must operate within the set hours, days and terms that it does and the notion that it must involve physical attendance and traditional learning methods are coming into question. If it works just as well in this new improvised system, then what distinct value is there in the existing system?
However, for many parents a new appreciation for the work of teachers is well and truly emerging. Many students in their final year of school are realising the joy of the communal spirit of completing many years of education with a cohort of peers, now that they have to do without it. The crisis is helping us discern which practices are dispensable and which ones are worth holding on to.
2. Retail. If modern technology wasn’t shaking up the retail industry enough, Coronavirus has taken it to a new level of urgency and innovation. People are embracing the existing online shopping technology already in place and engaging much more fully in e-commerce. The efficiency that online shopping provides and the viability of delivery systems, especially as they are being improved according to current necessity, are highly persuasive factors contributing to this trend.
Beyond merely moving people deeper into the online shopping world, this crisis is also changing the in-store experience. As society is required to minimise physical human interactions, businesses are being forced to utilise automated processes in stores, for example, prioritising self-service and cashier-less checkouts. As well as this, because they are now being forced to compete with the highly viable online world, physical stores are having to prioritise productivity and profits.
3. Library Systems. As libraries have been temporarily closing across the world, regular borrowers are turning online to e-books. Before this crisis the standing system of borrowing e-books relied on a relatively old-fashioned system of copyrighting, lending only one digitally archived book at a time. However, with the surge of demand brought about by this crisis and all the teachers and students who now suddenly need access to public library books, many libraries have granted access to all books online for free.
While many question the legalities of such a move, it is perfectly legitimate as it still counts as borrowing, only the borrowing limit has been temporarily suspended. The library is still operating as a library, but public access is simply greater. With the old system being fairly outdated in our technological world, it is unlikely that, after this crisis passes, things will return to the way they were.
4. Community Groups. I’m sure that by now most of us have experienced at least one Zoom meeting or online webinar. Businesses, educational institutions and religious groups have had to embrace these technologies rapidly to keep up with the pace of the current virus. However, beyond the major institutions, many other kinds of community groups have also been forced to embrace them, and not just the ones dominated by younger generations who are already familiar with the technology. Groups like Lions, Apex and Rotary have also embraced the world of Zoom meetings and initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
With all institutional and community groups having to choose between going virtual or suspending all activity, many are realising the value of the technology we already had on offer. Beyond that, they are realising that the technology they were previously apprehensive towards actually works, and is able to connect the groups that depend on connection, even in such a disconnected time as this. The existing systems of meeting in community groups, institutions and religious gatherings will likely look permanently different moving forward, even if that just means limiting the regularity of physical meetings. If the Baby Boomers of Rotary and Apex are going virtual, then the world is going in a very different direction indeed!
5. Presumption. Before now, most of us, particularly those younger than the Baby Boomers, took for granted our ability to enjoy luxury on a daily basis. Going out for a meal, seeing friends, attending concerts and conferences has become part of the fabric of everyday Western life. Never before have we had to think twice about our ability to access these things, let alone our ability to access a well-stocked supermarket!
I look forward to the day this is all over and we are reintroduced to the activities we have come to appreciate more in their absence. However, I also look forward to the new lack of presumption in the public as we all realise that we are not entitled to our favourite activities, nor are we guaranteed an ability to engage in them. We can certainly hope for a new sense of gratitude, encouraged by the knowledge that the things we love are more precarious than we thought they were.
It is fascinating to think of how different life will be when COVID-19 is all over; it is likely that we are living in the midst of one of the greatest turning points of the 21st Century. How will your life and business be permanently different moving forward?
Michael McQueen is a trends forecaster, business strategist and award-winning conference speaker.
He features regularly as a commentator on TV and radio and is a bestselling author of 8 books. To order Michael's latest book "The Case for Character", click here.
 White, James 2020, ‘Our schools will be forever changed - and it could be for the better,’ Sydney Morning Herald, 7 April.
 2020, ‘Retailers Shift To Meet Supply Chain, Fulfillment, And Digital Experience Needs,’ CBInsights, 8 April.
 Freeland, C 2020, ‘Internet Archive responds: Why we released the National Emergency Library,’ Internet Archive Blogs, 8 April.