Moving Beyond COVID-19 into a Braver New World

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A home office

Thunder Bay – LIVING – As we continue to shift out of COVID-19 with lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and the travel restrictions all wrapping up in Ontario, we are likely to be moving to a new normal that will be with us for a long time.

Officials are already telling us that COVID-19 or its variables are going to be with us for a long time to come. Vaccine boosters to overcome the expected variants are going to be needed.

In Western and Northern Ontario, after a fairly long spell without any new cases, there is a slow growth in case numbers. Alberta and Saskatchewan have demonstrated the folly of ignoring COVID-19. Ontario can not duplicate that path of illogic.

What is apparent is over the past year plus, we have seen several things shift extremely rapidly.

Online shopping, binge watching videos, and people trying new things, and setting new directions are just some of those shifts.

We are likely to see changes in how many formerly normal activities will change for the foreseeable future.

Shopping in-store and wearing a mask is likely to become far more common. Even though getting set to go into a store and putting on a mask, at least to me brings in visions of old western movies with the bad guys in black hats and their bandanas it is now almost a part of shopping.

Online Shopping the New Norm

For many online shopping has taken on a far larger component of their household spending. During the provincial lockdown in Ontario, one of the big box national chains in our city was taking up to three or four days to get an order ready. Many people simply ordered online from Amazon Prime, and their order was delivered to their door in about the same time.

For retailers, curb-side or local delivery of items people can order online has taken much of the service out of the picture, and many are shopping on price alone.

Price and selection is for many people shopping online all that matters. They don’t get any real person customer service and so to them, price is all that matters.

Moving forward, retail is likely to spend a long time working very hard just to try to survive after months of reduced business. It is going to become vital for provincial and federal governments to realize that all of the supports so far are likely to be small compared to the help many businesses are going to need post-pandemic for survival.

Restaurants are going to likely see a surge in business as they open up.

However, for many the pandemic has provided the time and the opportunity to get back to the kitchen. It is possible that for many restaurants, the comfort people found dining at home, is going to continue once the enjoyment of going out is over.

We have also see a number of people through the isolation move to enjoying the change while at the same time we are also seeing the stresses and anxiety of that isolation continue for many others.

Some people have found the slower and more relaxed pace enjoyable. Those are people who likely are not too likely to rush back or want to rush back to their old routines.

Chances are for many the idea of going back to the former routine at an office is going to be a challenge.

Office vacancies in Canada are at an all-time high. Companies after all the time under the pandemic are downsizing operations. Many companies have made shifts to downsize their office needs. Commercial real estate is changing and that change is likely going to come faster than many believe it will.

There is also likely going to be come anxiety over things going back to the usual

People have either become, in many ways, “COVID-Lazy” or “COVID-Crazy”. The long period of the lockdowns and the stay-at-home orders and the isolation has shifted many people.

A recent survey asked what their biggest concern is about returning to humanity after COVID, over a quarter (27.2%) of Canadians said ‘making small talk.’

This was closely followed by ‘pretending to be interested’ at 21.9%. 

On Social Media, people have got used to having a conversation, in chat that they could just walk away from when they felt like it. That is going to be harder to overcome in person-to-person discussions and engagement.

Another was what to do with our hands (12.6%), wearing ‘hard pants’ (10.8%), how to eat in front of people (10.3%), and how to hold utensils (5.1%.)

Almost a quarter of Canadians aren’t going to fight for their right to party

Asked what social interaction scares them the most post-COVID, 22.6% of Canadians said ‘going to a party.’ 19.0% said standing in an elevator, and 14.7% said ‘eating at a restaurant.’

Back to (small talk) school:

Asked what they could most use a post-pandemic primer in, 26.5% said they would like to be schooled on small talk. 20.1% of Canadians would like to learn some positive body language, surprisingly, 15.3% would like to learn ‘how to smile convincingly,’ and 11.4% would like to relearn ‘how to dress’ (though it is not clear if they had skills in this regard pre-pandemic.)

Changes are coming… the key is going to be figuring out how to navigate those changes.