Post COVID-19: Predicting The New Normal

As we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, it is clear there are certain things about our world that will not be the same as before.

This is said neutrally without negative connotation, though of course, there is an expectation of disruption and manageable discomfort accompanying any period of change, more so when it occurs rapidly and in an uncontrolled fashion.

This article is written to explore what the new world may look like from an operational perspective, rather than a deep analysis of financial impacts.

With a free-market economy typically driven both by consumer demand and the effects of regulatory changes, one can draw one’s conclusions through extrapolation of any predictions made.

It is written as a starter-for-10, with the intent to stimulate the reader to reflect and perhaps contribute their own thoughts around what major changes could be seen across several areas of our lives and industry sectors.

These are my own.

Drawing parallels

Whilst there is a tendency to reflect on the SARS epidemic of 2003 for lessons and potential impacts, the global-reach of this particular pandemic has required a vastly different response, with key changes for longer-term manageability required.

The reality is the majority of western nations were not exposed to the harsh reality of the SARS 2003 epidemic and were caught off guard, despite the scientific community predicting that a global pandemic would only be a matter of time.

Whilst there will no doubt be much reflection as to why this may be the case, human psychology is such that change tends to happen only when the pain of staying the same, is greater than the fear of change.

Within my own primary industry of Cyber Security, we see this pattern of behavior expressed with many businesses implementing security controls only after a serious data breach occurs, despite years of requests for adequate budgetary approval from those on the front line.

Human nature is such that the majority tend to be reactive, rather than proactive. An impactful event is sometimes required to cause the e-motion necessary to make lasting change.

However, the human race is also resilient and adaptable.

As inconvenient as these changes were, it allowed the world to keep moving, and planes flying.

Where we have advanced today is a result of facing nature’s forces and human imperfections and bending them to our will.

As the population of the world and global mobility has increased, so to emerges the requirement to manage the threat of pandemics, with the risk now firmly moved to an unacceptable level, globally.

Lessons From Airport Security

So far, in my own relatively short lifetime, events such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 also changed our way of life, with new TTP’s (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) required to reduce the risk of the threat, both domestically and internationally.

The 2006 transatlantic aircraft terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives on board airliners traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada disguised as soft drinks, ultimately lead to the introduction of the now infamous 100ml carry-on limit at airports globally, with all liquid items <100ml also needing to be placed into a separate plastic bag.

As inconvenient as these changes were, it allowed the world to keep moving, and planes flying.

In 2016, a CT-based 3D scanning technology was trialed in Schipol, Amsterdam providing analysis of suspicious liquids whilst they remain in hand luggage, eliminating the need for a separate plastic bag.

Following this successful trial, these scanners are now in use at several high traffic airports globally, with further roll-outs planned.

These ‘inconvenient’ short-term changes improve and iterate over time to increase efficiency

In the 1960s, when the global air travel industry was just gaining momentum, taking a flight was similar to taking a bus, such was the low level of security in place. “A ticket and a confident smile” has been quoted as all that was necessary to gain access to your seat.

Between 1968 and 1972, hijackers took over a commercial aircraft on average every other week. A string of hijackings in the 1960s and early 1970s, including the 1972 Southern Airways Flight 49 — where hijackers threatened to fly the plane into a nuclear reactor — led to US President Richard Nixon’s mandate for the physical search of passengers.

The FAA required all airport screening of passengers and hand luggage with X-Rays and Metal Detectors by on Jan. 5, 1973

Whilst the above examples focus on air travel, which of course is impacted by this pandemic, they are examples of changes introduced as a response to a new global threat, or as a response to an increased risk, the controls of which we now take for granted.

The introduction of such measures also has an indirect benefit of increasing public confidence to ensure normal service is gradually resumed.

From inconvenience, to the routine

As the above demonstrates, changes are incremental. Inconvenient at first, but necessary to keep things moving.

These ‘inconvenient’ short-term changes improve and iterate over time to increase efficiency, and become integrated into the background of our everyday life.

So much so that the next generation will grow up without questioning the logic of the controls we put in place now. As we would say now for airport X-Ray machines, they will simply say ‘Why would you not?’

A Framework For Pandemic Control

So the question is then, what will the changes look like, or more specifically, what do they need to be?

One has to remember that whilst certain measures may not be effective independently, they can work in combination to provide a statistically significant impact.

Below is a set of controls that I believe are likely to be implemented over time, and whether these may be made a regulatory requirement.

In some instances, and in some countries, they already are.

Prediction 1: Use of Thermal Cameras and/or handheld Infrared Thermometers at all airports for every passenger

Whilst not all individuals with an active COVID-19 infection present a fever, it is arguable that the presence of this symptom is of enough significance to be a usefully defensive diagnostic tool.

It may also be of use to deter individuals who may be ill from traveling in the first place if the penalties for doing so are high enough, and/or as a triage tool for further questioning on travel movements.

For that reason, I expect that in combination with other measures at airports, we shall see the use of either high-throughput thermal cameras and/or the use of handheld infrared thermometers at various check-points.

Consider 4 levels:

A) Check-In

B) Security

C)Boarding Gate

D) Passport Control.

There will be a need for a global and coordinated screening framework established, in a similar manner that we see with measures for counter-terrorism.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 2: Use of Thermal Cameras and/or handheld Infrared Thermometers at indoor public and commercial spaces

In public and commercial spaces where social distancing is not possible, I expect we will see regulations put in place to conduct fever detection scanning.

At high traffic venues such as night clubs, shopping malls, and supermarkets I expect we shall see automated fever detection devices at the entrance points, such as those used at airports.

At lower-traffic venues such as bars, cinemas, and others I expect we shall see handheld infrared thermometers in use, almost becoming a procedure as common as an ID-check.

These are already being used in various Asian and Middle-East countries as part of their measures.

There will likely be a side benefit of this which is to increase public confidence at venues where this is used.

For commercial businesses, if such screening measures worked in conjunction with HR disciplinary procedures, this may deter certain individuals who attempt to come into work, wearing illness like a badge of honor, and infecting numerous colleagues.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 3: Mandatory use of N95/FFP2 masks on all planes

At present, there remains a lack of clarity about the use of masks by members of the public.

It is also a politically sensitive topic where a country is quite logically unlikely to endorse their use, where N95/FFP2 masks are already in limited supply to those who need it the most i.e medical staff.

It is likely that as adequate supplies of N95/FFP2 masks are sourced and secured, advice will change accordingly to be one of mandatory use in certain settings.

N95/FFP2 rated masks, when used correctly, have been proven to provide the filtering necessary for aerosol droplets of COVID-19.

As the airline industry seeks to gain back public trust I expect the mandated use of N95 on planes will be strongly considered. This may be a country and/or airline dependant.

Although if Prediction 4 is implemented, this may not be necessary.

Regulation Expected: Yes (Certain Countries)

Prediction 4: Modification of Airplane Ventilation Systems with 3D Printed Parts

Viruses love to travel.

In 2015, a 17-year old Canadian called Raymond Wang posted a TED Talk discussing his solution to reduce pathogen spread on commercial planes.

In his talk, referencing case studies from the SARS and H1N1 epidemics, and computer simulations, he discusses the rather terrifying rate that viruses can spread during commercial flights.

Whilst airplane filtration systems are highly effective (99.97%) at removing airborne pathogens, it is the cabins swirling airflow patterns created in the cabin which contribute to the spread of a cough or a sneeze of a passenger.

Raymond’s solution?

A $5 3D printed device called a “Global Inlet Director” (patent pending), which can be bolted right in place to existing locations.

The installation in a typical commercial plane installation can be completed overnight.

His device can reduce pathogen transmission by about 55 times whilst increase fresh air inhalation by about 190%.

If this device proves as effective as his computation fluid dynamic models suggest, we may not need those N95/FFP2 masks on planes after all.

All it needed back then (2015), was regulatory approval.

Regulation Expected: Yes (If we spread the word)

Prediction 5: Mandatory use of N95/FFP2 masks on public transport

It is difficult to enforce Social distancing measures consistently on most public transport.

I expect we shall see a requirement for those using certain public transport, especially the tube/subways, to wear masks.

A secondary benefit is to reduce airborne pollution ingested when using the transport system.

A Kings College study conducted in 2019 of the London Underground Network covering 75 tunnels found that levels of pollution (PM 2.5) on the Underground are dangerously high — as much as 10 times above the guidelines set by the World Health Organization in some parts of the network.

Again, this is only likely to be recommended in countries where adequate supplies of N95/FFP2 masks exist.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 6: General recommendation of mask use when out in public

As mentioned above, to date there has been mixed advice in western countries about the use of masks for a variety of reasons.

Singapore is one example where they have made it a legal requirement for mask-wearing in public for the majority of individuals.

N95/FFP2 masks are not specified, and as such, it can be assumed the general masks recommended protects the spread of large droplets from an infected individual only, rather than protecting the wearer from smaller aerosol droplets.

It is the author’s opinion that public use of masks in general public (open) places will remain a “recommendation only”, in western countries.

Only in places/venues where it can be reasonably enforced should we expect to see a legal requirement to wear masks.

Private institutions reserve the right to enforce their own rules.

Regulation Expected: No

Prediction 7: Businesses of a certain size required to create, hold, maintain and practice a pandemic plan, by law.

The request by central governments to close physical access to all but ‘Essential Businesses’ is unprecedented.

While Critical National Infrastructure facilities are well prepared for a pandemic scenario, the requirement has had a significant impact on the majority of businesses.

Mature medium to enterprise-sized businesses may hold established Business Continuity Plans (BCP) for various scenarios, including annual testing, however, it is highly unlikely that the risk of a pandemic was considered high on the range of other threats (e.g Earthquake, Hurrican, Aeroplane Accident, Fire, Flood, Terrorism, Power Failure, Civil Unrest, etc) typically considered, especially within Western Countries.

Organisations with established Business Continuity Plans (BCP) are no doubt fairing better than those without, enabling individuals to work from home. However, unless the business is truly international, it is unlikely these plans included modeling for 2nd or 3rd order consequences on global supply change, and also the financial impact due to changes in consumer behavior after a wide-scale incident.

Given the approach taken by the government with locking down the economy, I expect regulation to be introduced which ensures all businesses can operate remotely for a defined period of time, (say 3 months) should a government directive occur again in the future.

This may also include a requirement to demonstrate a similar level of financial liquidity is available.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 8: Global Pandemic Early Alert Network for ALL countries

Whilst countries are largely economically competitive, when there is a common enemy present, there becomes a need for increased global collaboration.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has played a key role in the response to this pandemic, however, I expect large changes will be required.

There will likely be improvements with a common framework and common interfaces, which can be independently and externally verified, for essential functions of analysis, detection, and response.

I expect we will see a raft of new global standards and a governance framework to ensure a robust mechanism for pandemic response going forward.

The need for a coordinated response during pandemics is so key that I expect this will be an area of key focus, with global ‘Pandemic Games/Drills’ occurring.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 9: Annual Pandemic Test Day

Following on from the point above, I expect that national frameworks for Pandemic Response will require that these are also periodically tested.

In the same way that companies have fire drills and banks are ‘stress tested’, to ensure systems operate in times of crisis, we may see the introduction of an annual pandemic test day, where the various coordinated system of responses are tested, including key industry sectors and organisations.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 10: Increased levels of cleaning staff on all public transport

I expect we will see a near-constant presence of cleaning staff on public transport in the long term.

This may be needed to bring back public confidence in the use of public transport.

Regulation Expected: Possible in the medium-term.

Prediction 11: An Anti-Body/Vaccine Passport

With a virus that knows no borders, it is highly likely countries will want to ensure individuals entering a country do not pose a risk to their population.

I expect there may be two approaches to this, for two types of individuals

A) No Vaccine/No Anti-Body Test Completed

B) Anti-Body Testing Completed (Immune) and/or Vaccinated.

When vaccines for COVID-19 are considered safe, effective and widely available, individuals who have received the vaccine will be provided with an electronic identifier which states they have received such a vaccine from their home country.

This information could be added to their E-Passport, of a similar international recognised electronic identifier via an app QR Code.

For individuals who have not received a vaccine, or have not demonstrated immunity from an antibody test, they could be required to complete a rapid test in their home country, before boarding and install a smartphone application managing test results and contract tracing.

Assuming an accurate COVID-19 Rapid Test is developed, the test results could be analysed and processed on the ground, perhaps even before the individual makes it to the airport departure gate, or cruise ship terminal.

Alternatively, an adequately sized rapid molecular assay testing bank could deliver the results in around 30 minutes.

Alternatively, individuals could be provided with their test results before disembarkation, with an internationally recognized QR Code shown at Pandemic Control at the disembarking airport.

If results are positive, the individual could be required to install a quarantine application on their phone, and self isolate in the country they land in for 14 days, or if a cruise ship, refused to board or isolate in a specifically designed cabin.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 12: Rapid Testing

“Rapid testing” may be a way of identifying whether an individual has COVID-19 within a short timeframe 10–15 minutes.

In this context, I refer to rapid testing to be that which does not require a lab environment and provides a result within 10–15 minutes.

Previous limitations of a “Rapid Test” technology have been its accuracy rate.

Rapid Test kits for H1N1 only had an accuracy between 50%- 70%, which may not be appropriate for certain situations.

It is reasonable to expect new technology may be developed which could be considered ‘Rapid Testing’, providing a higher degree of accuracy, and does not require a lab environment.

However, rapid testing with lower accuracy rates may fit into a wider framework of measures and could be used at more domestic locations, such as events/festivals, rather than transit locations.

Regulation Expected: No

Prediction 13: Widescale Anti-Body Testing

This is not so much a prediction, as a simple necessity.

It is looking increasingly likely that between 10–15% of the population may already have been exposed to COVID-19.

Without understanding who has had the virus asymptomatically, it is all but impossible to calculate an accurate death-rate.

A recent German study conducted on a representative sample village in German calculated that based on 500 people tested, 15 % had been exposed, many without symptoms, with the overall death rate calculated at 0.37%

Without a proven vaccine, this is a highly important control to enable lockdown measures to be relaxed, and accurate data for strategic planning.

Prediction 14: Limits on domestic movement to areas containing high-risk groups.

I expect there will be certain domestic areas whereby an individual will be required to demonstrate they have completed an anti-body test, or have received a vaccine, before gaining entry.

These may be certain places such as Care Homes, Medical Facilities, Prisons and other institutions that may house vulnerable individuals.

Regulation Expected: Yes

Prediction 15: App-Based Contact Tracing

It has been stated that aggressive testing and contact tracing are essential to emerging from lockdown in a timely manner.

Smartphone devices are now used to a high percentage of the global population.

Both China and Singapore have used smartphone contact tracing to identify whether an individual has come into contact with a known infected individual, allowing those to then self-isolate for 14 days.

Apple and Google whos operating systems dominate the majority of the smartphone market have announced an unprecedented collaboration to create contact tracing based on the use of anonymised Bluetooth Low-Energy beaconing.

It has been stated this will be released as a standalone application in the short term, with an extensible API integrated into the operating system for future development.

This can be effective even if only 60% of the population adopt these measures.

Impacts On Healthcare

Prediction 16: Mandatory reporting of seasonal infections and fevers into a smartphone application by all citizens to improve general tracking of infectious disease

We have all heard the words, “I’ve caught that bug which was going round, John/Jane had the same thing last week”

Historically, we live blindly to many lower-grade spreadable infections which still have an economic cost every year in lost worker productivity.

As stated above, work is already underway by Google and Apple to collaborate on a Bluetooth Beacon based technology to assist with identifying if one has been in contact with an infected individual of COVID-19.

Having lived in London for many years, there have been many winters where common colds and flu have anecdotally concentrated and spread through the population and workplaces.

This can only work with a common framework and standard for collecting and sharing information, whilst respecting the rights and freedoms of individuals.

I expect we may see the above technology pivoted to deal with less serious seasonal infections, with the end goal of maintaining productivity and the health of workers.

Prediction 17: Increased use of telemedicine/remote doctor consultation apps

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a range of telemedicine apps enabling 1st line a remote consultation with a trained physician.

With doctors surgeries requesting those with COVID-19 symptoms call a dedicated health helpline rather than entering a clinic, we have also seen individuals utilise telemedicine applications to discuss other matters of concern, in an attempt to avoid exposure.

A high percentage of issues seen by doctors do not require a face to face consultation and can be triaged over an audio/video call.

There are also several apps that leverage smartphone features to provide doctors with ‘vital sign’ information, to go along with the audio/video call to assist with diagnosis.

As this process becomes more normalised, we should see a more efficient assessment process with face to face visits only required for a certain percentage of concerns.

Prediction 18: Reduction in certain common infections due to an increase in general hygiene measures

Public awareness about hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is widely communicated. These measures are not necessarily specific to reducing the spread of COVID-19, but other infectious diseases.

With a general public wide improvement in hygiene measures, a second-order consequence may be the reduction of less common, although still problematic infections, such as those in hospitals.

Impacts On Consumer Behaviour

Prediction 19: The handshake becomes a social taboo, in the short-term.

We may see a decline in the use of the handshake in a formal business setting, which may lead to a decline in the use in social settings.

With that said, history has shown that despite previous pandemics spread with physical contact such as the Spanish Flu, physical contact when greeting others did return eventually.

Perhaps it may take a generation.

Prediction 20: The use of personal hand sanitiser becomes common-place.

Similarly to the use of masks in public, the use of hand sanitizer will find its way into the pockets and bags of most individuals who use public transport.

Prediction 21: Families maintaining a 3-month food stockpile becomes normal.

As families reflect on how a country can be required to lockdown during a pandemic, many may continue on the routines and habits formed during this period.

Keeping a 3-month stockpile of food and essential supplies may be a rational thing to do in preparation for a similar need in the future.

Indeed, despite the attempt at social shaming in mass media, stockpiling is, in fact, what governments are told to recommend to their citizens during an incoming pandemic.

Families may also find this is actually a convenient way to shop, reducing trips required to the food store with a secondary benefit of being more environmentally friendly, saving money on transport.

Prediction 22: A reduction in social stigma associated with mask-wearing in public

Many Asian countries have used masks wearing since the early ’00s. This I believe may have started due to the SARS outbreaks, and evolved to become a social norm.

It was also seen as a social courtesy if one felt unwell, to reduce the chance of community spread.

Many countries still consider mask-wearing to be excessive, almost a public display of underlying neuroticism, without a true understanding of the scientific benefits.

I believe that will change, as there is now a broader expectation that they held. If it becomes a legal requirement in certain environments, it will become even more common in wider public spaces.

Prediction 23: People spend more time at home in general, until a vaccine is found

It will no doubt take time for individuals to feel confident and comfortable leaving their homes, as is evident in China, even as the lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

As people have altered their home environment to tolerate the longer periods of lockdown, I expect we may see a shift in behavior towards lives centered more around them.

This may partly be due to residual anxiety of catching an infection, and also as the world has shifted to make it more possible to do so, with essentials now delivered right to one’s door.

This anxiety is likely to persist until a widespread vaccination program has been implemented.

Prediction 24: Increased use in online grocery shopping

The COVID-19 lockdown has led many individuals to embrace online grocery shopping who previously may have been highly adverse, or technically illiterate as to how to do so.

There has been a trend towards this over the last 3–5 years, however, the lockdown has acted as the catalyst for individuals to take the leap.

Once a new domestic routine is established, it is highly unlikely those who shifted will go back to shopping in-store.

Impacts On Travel/Tourist

Prediction 25: General Reduction in Global Travel

As mentioned above, it will likely take time for countries to establish necessary screening measures and to be confident to open their borders without contributing to additional waves of infection.

It will also take time for the public to gain back their confidence in national and international travel, including trust in the screening measures.

Conscientious individuals may feel confident taking measures to protect themselves, however, there will likely need to be a strong PR campaign to get global travel levels to previous levels for the wider demographic.

Prediction 26: Increase in domestic holidays/retreats with separate accommodation

As restrictions are lifted, it will take time for various travel measures to be implemented, and more importantly to be trusted.

To that end, it is reasonable to expect we shall see an increase in domestic holidays and retreats where interaction with others is minimised, especially those involving outdoor activities.

For example, accommodation available on Airbnb providing a place to themselves, close to nature, are likely to do well. Perhaps also camping/glam-ping style-breaks.

Impacts On Sport

Prediction 27: e-Sports becomes more popular

Online sporting events has been something of a niche for a number of years.

Whilst it is unlikely to become mainstream, there has been a recent trend of certain sports such as NASCAR and Formula-E moving to an online e-Sports event.

For individuals who are avid, rather than casual fans of those sports, I believe the sector will certainly see increased demand to watch well-known drivers compete in a new online space.

With significant time spent at home, the online gaming sector, in general, will likely see increasing maturity in professionalism and competitive recognition.

Impacts On Education

Prediction 28: Increased homeschooling and education

In the same way we are likely to see remote working become more normalised, it is reasonable to expect to see the same for homeschooling and the education sector.

Education technology providers have seen a boom in demand around the world during the global lockdown.

The social benefits of physical interaction with peers cannot be replaced, nor can the need for the supervision provided by teachers freeing up parents to provide an income.

However, with the delivery mechanism of education proven, the mix of virtual to physical is likely to see a large shift, particularly in higher education and universities.

The wider benefits of refining best practices could ultimately lead to great strides in education levels globally, especially when combined with projects such as Elon Musk’s StarLink project, to deliver broadband to all corners of the earth.

Impacts On General Business

Prediction 29: Office-based roles will be created as “Remote First”

Many technology-focused businesses already have a strategy of maintaining less desk space than they do employees, with a proportion operating remotely.

However, despite robust technologies being available, many industry sectors have still not migrated to a remote working model.

With the lockdown requirements forcing employees to work from home, best practices and new workflows will have been established, and the benefits of remote working will likely become evident.

For traditional office-based workforces, I expect we shall see a more formalised ‘remote-first’ strategy for job descriptions going forward.

Whilst technology may be required to verify employee productivity (and ensure your job is not being outsourced to China whist your employee watches cat videos), it is likely this will occur.

The secondary benefits of this are opening up opportunities to a wide number of individuals who may have limited physical mobility for a variety of reasons such as physical disability, caring for a relative, limited transport links.

Prediction 30: Businesses will seek to diversify revenue streams/business models to ensure reduce risk from Pandemic-like events.

Many businesses have been simply unable to operate in the current lockdown environment.

I expect business owners may seek to diversify their revenue streams to ensure such a situation cannot decimate their entire business model.

Impact On The Property Sector

Prediction 31: Accelerated decline in demand for (Non-Essential) retail premises

In the age of Amazon and eCommerce in general, there has been downward pressure on retail stores for several years.

With the requirement to stay at home for all but essential trips and essential supplies, this has only accelerated this trend.

Whilst many restaurants have pivoted to utilising their premise for preparation of their goods (Food) for delivery by logistics networks (Deliveroo, UberEats, etc), retail shops that do not produce goods in-store are unable to do the same.

Retail premises already providing on-site services (such as maintenance and repair), dealing in essential goods or acting as a distribution point will be less affected.

In fact, smaller (and agile) independent food suppliers are enjoying an uptick in demand, with some also now offering home delivery.

Prediction 32: Social Distance by Design

Given the increased distribution of knowledge about the methods of pathogen spread, I expect we shall see aspects of this integrated into building regulation in the years to come.

For example, offices may be designed in such a way as to space desks to limit the spread of infection.

Supermarkets and chemists have introduced measures to protect employees from infection, with plastic screening.

After these changes are made, I think the secondary benefits (reducing general infection) will mean they remain.

Prediction 33: Reduction in demand for Commercial Office Space

The enforced lockdown has forced many businesses to move their employees to work from home (WFH).

Whilst many businesses, more-so in the technology sector, already have a large number of people working from home, for businesses in more traditional sectors (law, accounting, property), this is analogous to a wide-scale business pilot/experiment.

During this time, new technology may have been procured and deployed, and new workflows, processes, and procedures implemented to get the job done.

Whilst time will tell how viable remote working is for certain roles, it is highly probable that most businesses who have invested in these changes, if nothing else, will maintain them.

The need for face to face collaboration and shared workspaces will not be eliminated, although I expect it shall be vastly reduced.

Prediction 34: Increase in values of out of town residential property with open spaces

Those living in cities during the lockdown will no doubt have grown to appreciate the benefit of outside space.

In numerous cities around the world, where still allowed under lockdown, there has been an increase in visits to public open spaces.

Dense urban environments whilst providing a vibrant social life and increased business opportunities do not typically include outside space (gardens/terraces) with properties for the same price, compared to out of town counterparts.

As remote working increases, the need to commute to dense urban environments is likely to decrease.

For those who do not place a high value on the social aspects of city life, we are likely to see increased demand for commuter belt towns, where similarly priced accommodation includes such an outside space.

Prediction 35: Home Office Space becomes a key differentiator

As home working becomes more common, it is likely we shall see home buyers and renters seeking properties with spaces that can function as a separate home office.

Whilst it is possible to work from several locations remotely, an area dedicated to working, and ideally, one which can be isolated from other (potentially noisy) domestic activities, is more conducive to a productive work environment.

I expect we may see this appearing as a valuable differentiator in property listings, especially on smaller units.

Impact On Emerging Sectors

Prediction 36: Self Driving/Drone Delivery Sector sees increased demand

Even before the CV-19 pandemic, there were numerous companies that were testing various drone delivery mechanisms.

My expectation is EV powered self-driving car delivery drones will continue to develop over the next 5–10 years, with them becoming a common sight on our roads (and possibly skies)

There is already testing of such road vehicles occurring in California.

Prediction 37: EV market sees increased demand

Linked to the above, EV technology will be the enabler for delivery networks and I expect an increased percentage of the EV sector will be focused towards self-driving delivery vehicles.

Prediction 38: Huge increase in the use of delivery/logistics services. Sector booms.

As individuals are forced to spend more time at home, there has been an increased reliance on the safe delivery of goods by logistics companies.

Amazon has already hired 100,000 additional warehouse workers and plans to hire yet another 75,000 globally.

As the restrictions to access retail stores is enforced during lockdowns, individuals who may have only used Amazon and other eCommerce services infrequently, are now turning to them in their droves.

A 2009 study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at UCL, entitled ‘How long does it take to form a habit’, found that on average it takes 66 days for a habit to become ingrained.

Many lockdowns are rapidly reaching that time period, and therefore, the use of such services is likely to persist well after restrictions are lifted.

Closing Thoughts

We have never been at a better time to be able to handle a pandemic that we are today.

It is at times of war, that some of the world’s best technological advancements have been made, and we are, at war with this virus.

To that end, we shall undoubtedly see the world’s greatest minds creating leaps in innovations and technologies which may have far wider applications than the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to raising the standard of living in various areas of life globally.

As our physical and virtual lives merge more than ever before, so too does the type of threats faced, and their impact.

Counter-intuitively, viruses (malware) in the virtual world have always been considered a more likely threat in the public consciousness, than a pathogenic pandemic in the physical world.

To many, this pandemic has brought home a realisation that these worlds are perhaps more similar than we may like to think.

Let us now work diligently, to protect them both.

Has this article got your thinking?

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