30 Things Not Going Back to Normal

Random Observation/Comment #676: “Hindsight 2020” has a whole new meaning.

Why this list?

I’ve written a lot about the impact of coronavirus and made some predictions underneath these lists of 30, but a lot of these predictions just happened much slower (which means I was wrong).

Things have changed drastically for a lot of people globally and I think some of these recoveries will take years to reach bottom. More importantly, a year of uncertainty and anxiety changes sentiment towards pessimism and distrust. Some aspects of our new life will likely not go back to “normal”. This is the “new normal”.

  1. Working Remote / Home offices – Those who are remote now will stay remote, which will lead to a commercial real estate collapse in major cities. No more foot traffic for lunchtime rush. Empty office buildings with expired contracts. Storefronts that maintain high rent to prevent devaluation of the residential portion will also be hit by those unable to pay rent. Banks will see defaults on mortgages. It’s a bad spiral.
  2. Mom and pop restaurants closing – Restaurants were never a high margin business. I see a lot of people taking a few years off or relocating all together. It’s run by passion, so maybe there will be better potlucks and cookouts.
  3. City exodus by upper/upper-middle class – I planned to leave before, but it’s more clear now that the space of the suburbs from living quarters to street safety is superior for parents in their 30s/40s with young kids. Cities will survive, but not after a 2-3 year long tumble. Rent contracts will be cheaper. A younger population will thrive.
  4. Reduced cost of Higher Education – In general, universities have been too expensive and greedy with people’s futures and their own brands for their alumni. The 2020 attendance numbers will plummet as online alternatives grow and people take gap years.
  5. Online learning – MOOCs have been around for a long time, but maybe now tech jobs will consider hiring from these pools of self-motivated learners. If your answer to “What did you do during the pandemic?” is “Take 10 online courses to hone my mastery – and here’s a link to the course completion certificates” then I’d probably hire you.
  6. Micro Certifications / Bootcamps – Google gets it. If they can convince students to take their courses and skim the upper 10% as Google lifers, they switch up their hiring strategy to a long term people investment plan. It’s a big company and I expect others will hire from graduates of Google University.
  7. Factory Automation – First on the supply chain level. I’m sure there are large investments in more automated equipment and quality assurance testing.
  8. High tech storefronts – Amazon Go tech setups with cashier-less contact and direct payments will reduce touch points. The cost of this tech to implement will go down or at least be competitive to the longer tail costs of employees and employee benefits. (Kudos to pingpod for building an autonomous on-demand ping pong setup and lightweight business model).
  9. Leaner companies (except Amazon) – People are usually the most expensive opex. I see bigger companies getting bigger and smaller companies able to stay afloat first go lean.
  10. Online shopping / Ghost stores – I already buy everything online. Amazon browsing is just too easy (especially for home improvement and gadgets). Contact-less drop off is huge for most places.
  11. Package Delivery services – There will be continued stress on the delivery market if the USPS is no longer reliable. More trucks on the roads. More potholes. Fewer residential cars using gas for commutes. More use of diesel gas. Faster switch to EV.
  12. Gig workers for delivery – Definitely for seamless/doordash/ubereats. I do think regulation for fair wages are around the corner and the premium for these services will go up. Please continue to tip generously to essential workers.
  13. Electric Vehicles – Not just because I love Tesla, but we all know climate change is the next challenge. Teslas also depreciate less. Automated Tesla big rigs may also maintain the low costs for package delivery.
  14. Home cooking – If you have a YouTube cooking show, you’re probably getting some good traffic for dinner ideas. Alternatively, you could just be eating frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets all year, but that gets boring. Try a 30 Day Coronavirus Cooking Challenge.
  15. Targeted retail advertising – Along with online shopping, I think the algorithms for group based purchasing recommendations are getting smarter. It’s less about showing what I’ve already bought and more about accessories and mappings to bundles. Discovery of things I didn’t know I needed (until I bought it on Amazon).
  16. Podcasts / Audio medium – It’s already essential to my daily routine. Better than a music for my workout.
  17. Home gyms / home trainers / Peloton – Dedicated space has already been established and I don’t think gyms will see the same volume even if they reopen.
  18. College Sports – This will take a gap year and I’m hoping the new protections in place will pay salaries for risk.
  19. Retail Trading volumes – Robinhood isn’t going away. Yes, it’s become pure gambling. Addictive. Easy to do on mobile. Keeps you updated on latest news.
  20. Financial reviews/literacy – Hopefully you also did a pare down of recurring expenses to have some financial stability. The generation living through this will be very conscious of penny pinching.
  21. Tech Conferences – These online webinars are not as useful for meeting new people (which is usually the point of newly attending conferences). The booth experience is gone. Where’s my customized swag?
  22. Personal Online branding – People have started writing more personal pieces and looking for ways to build more connections organically. I think LinkedIn and Medium have created a reliable moat for professionals doing outreach
  23. Flights out of US – US Passport officially useless since we’re banned from traveling to most places. European flights are recovering. I think tourism for Americans will stay local cross country drives and hikes.
  24. Esignatures / Docusign – This should have happened much earlier. I still don’t understand why physical presence is needed for signing loans
  25. Teledoc – Fewer people will go to the doctor for physical checkups and instead use more health devices to do real time stats.
  26. Loungewear / Fashion – Comfortable bottoms. Comfortable shoes. More washable indoor slippers. I will likely not wear suits for a few years. Hopefully I keep the same relative weight and build.
  27. Multi generational homes – In times of uncertainty, we consolidate to save money. Move back in with parents or have them move in with you. I don’t think it’s easy to kick a family member out if they’ve moved in.
  28. Drive-In movie theaters – I don’t see how large gathers of people at events is coming back anytime soon. Hopefully there are plans to re-purpose relatively empty parking lots.
  29. Face masks – This takes habit, but I’m hoping there is normalization of wearing masks when people feel unwell.
  30. Fist/Elbow bumps – Handshakes and High fives are a thing of the past. I’ve always liked the Japanese bow.

~See Lemons Live the New Normal