COVID–19, World has Changed in Last 6 Months

by Mayank Sewak Varindra Sewak - 29 August, 2020, 12:00 3992 Views 0 Comment

COVID-19 has changed the world and it will never be the same again! Though countries like New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam etc. are showing tremendous improvements in as travel picks up these may be a new wave of infections to attend to, as China is facing. The world is also expected to come up with vaccine (Russia just announced the first vaccine, which still needs to be tested) and medicines which can cure the disease faster. India is already showing a 70% recovery rate. The world still waits for a vaccine for many diseases e.g. AIDS, CANCER etc., thus production and distribution of any vaccine that is effective against the possible virus mutations and effective over a long period of time might take time. 

In short, the world will have to live with the virus and find ways and means of bringing back life, businesses and countries back on a growth path to make life better for citizens. Health system of most advanced countries e.g. EU, US & developing countries e.g. India, African nations is finding it difficult to test and treat a large number of patients. It is expected that COVID – 19 will cover all individuals in time to come.  

Continued uncertainties of today, frequent lockdowns, mass transport suspension, and restrictions might lead to social unrest and displeasure with the ruling political parties. Media has been kept busy showing numbers and graph of COVID infections by country, developing vaccines, medicine trials and findings in research papers, etc. are coming out after the initial blame game. The fact remains humanity is suffering, and management of countries and businesses are busy holding positions.

All above is leading to a situation of the World Economy will shrink in 2020. This is like given for every country, the question remains is how much and what percentage. Some of the April 20 to June 2020 GDP figures as given below. All economies are slowing down. Data from Statista.

If we consider loan defaults when all the initial backing given by the governments stop, many sectors will see defaults e.g. Airlines, Hotels, Construction companies, Non-food retail etc. Such defaults will put pressure on banks.

In summary, we see a gloomy picture all over and it is easy for anyone to give up or just do damage control to survive. In this article, however, the authors will focus upon the personal aspect of COVID-19.

Even in such difficult conditions recent Mckinsey research of 2000 Global executives in North America, India and China showed optimistic views in percentage points on the recovery of economies between April 2020 to June 2020. However, numbers may drastically change as vaccines or medicines show signs of efficacy.

As Governments become afraid of external threats spends on defence will go up considerably. This can be seen in Taiwan, India, Middle East, etc. This will push defence sector doing well in the short term.

We will try to summarize obvious impact and later generate a series of articles on how each impact area will evolve in the coming years to sustain and find a way to grow. Let us examine changes which are now going to stay for a long time. While the COVID 19 has created challenges for industry and governments, there is no immediate impact as profound as that on individual personal lives. The notion of “new normal” while easy to say, has disrupted the lives of working professionals, salaried employees, students both children and young adults as well as elderly.

  1. Work from home: At the early stages of evolution but this has impacted everyone’s lives in the household. Some of the immediate implications form this mandate are:
    • Staff must use the technology they have: Companies are investing in personal laptops and other devices to help people work from home. They are also investing in software solutions to ensure data security while giving access to enterprise solutions like SAP. Wi-Fi connectivity over phone or remote connectivity devices is another technology area that is seeing a boost. Telecom companies, internet service providers, and computer hardware manufacturers across the world are trying to match the increased and changes in demand.
    • People like to work with people: Loneliness is what is the biggest challenge in today’s world. Companies are encouraging group work on-line. Screen sharing softwares are being deployed while encouraging a culture of collaboration to enable resources to perform their roles while adapting to these changes. However, loneliness is creating challenges related to the mental health of the working professionals especially among those who are living away from their families.
    • The notion of Workday is changing: With no time limit, it is becoming difficult to destress. Work in multinational corporations is not stopping, adding to stress and lifestyle-related health issues. With Online work on zoom or Microsoft or WebEx, workdays have becomes considerably longer. Employees in offshoring offices in India are bearing the brunt of this increased workday. New stress management and mindfulness solutions, techniques and applications are gaining ground to help tackle this changing work-life dynamic.
    • Research has indicated that we spend a greater amount of our mental faculties in online meetings compared to the same time in a face to face meeting. This is because our mind unconsciously takes cues from body language and other gestures which is not possible in an online environment. The mind, therefore, tries to compensate and we are mentally fatigued after a long video call.
    • Reskilling is the need of the day: Staff will require re-skilling in a big way while focusing on virtual trainings rather than in-person sessions.
    • The elderly are reluctant to go outside their homes and to the hospital. While this may not impact them immediately, it may lead to severe issues if the lockdown aspects continue. Underlying symptoms may go undiagnosed and untreated leading to greater challenges in the future.
  • Student life / children life style: This has taken the biggest hit. Small kids, at the age of 3 are learning through web learning tools. Lockdowns are forcing children to stay confined and play within themselves while cutting off from the outside world. The elder (young adults) are not doing any better in their development. While these tools may provide the hard skills of maths, language and science, the children miss the socio-emotional component which they gain from peer interactions. With children confined to their homes unable to play or meet with their cousins and friends and no clear visibility on when the schools (as we knew them) would open, this is something to be cognizant about. School and college friends are friends for life, the pandemic has clearly hindered this aspect of their lives.
  • Family relationships are going through hard times of household work, children’s education, own work and keeping in touch with family, friends and world is making life very stressful. With a limited number of social gatherings, and meeting with friends and family members, mental health issues will rise.

The authors plan to continue to talk about the impact of COVID-19 on specific industry sectors in future articles.

Mayank Sewak
Author is a PhD (Management) from the University of Massachusetts, USA.
Varindra Sewak
Author is Ex MD, Purina PetCare India Pvt. Ltd. (A Nestle’ company).

4 replies on “COVID–19, World has Changed in Last 6 Months”

Good write up with facts which is known to us. You could have incorporated some of the positive points which this pandemic have taught us. Mixing both gloomy pic with some positivity also will help people to come out of it
Thanks for sharing- look forward to next write up.

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