Just a few months ago, the term “social distancing” was a little-known phrase, spoken primarily by epidemiologists, virologists and emergency planners. But today, “social distancing” is an integral part of the global lexicon. It’s a concept that has dramatically transformed the way in which we interact, socialize, work and play. That’s especially true of the social distancing business impact, which has transformed companies — and the way they operate — worldwide.
While this novel coronavirus largely remains a mystery, one thing is clear: COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, scientists predict that it will take a minimum of 18 to 24 months to develop a vaccine. Once developed, it will take even longer to vaccinate a majority of the 7+ billion humans on this planet, so as to achieve “herd immunity.”
Until herd immunity is established, social distancing is here to stay — even after the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders end. Over time, talk of the coronavirus will gradually fade away and behaviors will shift into what I’m calling “conscious distancing.”
Shifting from Social Distancing to Conscious Distancing
It’s evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our global society. We’re far more cognizant of how we interact with others. We’re more aware of the potential for exchanging those dreaded “droplets.” We find ourselves contemplating how long the virus can survive on various surfaces, with some even donning rubber gloves and salad tongs to get the mail. This is the epitome of conscious distancing (and in the case of salad tongs, perhaps a bit of paranoia).
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our behaviors in some very noticeable ways, prompting society to become far more conscious of, and intentional, in their interactions with others. For instance, the European “cheek kiss” and even the handshake could be relegated to the pages of history books. It’s hard to envision a scenario where people would feel comfortable with this sort of direct contact in today’s post-pandemic world. While it still feels awkward — almost rude — to omit a handshake from our greeting rituals, it’s quite likely that we’ll come up with some sort of substitute such as the bows that are common in Asian nations.
In fact, many Asian cultures are ahead of the curve, as their social norms and even fashion trends have long embraced practices that are conducive to conscious distancing and maintaining one’s personal space. The face mask has long been a fashion staple in many of the most densely populated regions of Asia, such as South Korea and Japan. It stands to reason that we’ll begin to see face masks becoming fashionable (yet functional) accessories in one’s wardrobe.
In the pre-pandemic world, it might have been viewed as rude to apply hand sanitizer after shaking hands or taking a receipt from a cashier but that’s the norm in today’s world. We’re intentionally and consciously distancing ourselves from others. When contact is unavoidable, we immediately seek to cleanse ourselves. There’s a good chance that these behaviors and protective items will remain omnipresent in our society.
The Advantages of Conscious Distancing in a Post-Pandemic World
Many of the distancing behaviors that will remain in society are not necessarily bad things.
- Minimizing Risk of Infection Long-Term
Limiting direct contact, wearing face masks, frequent handwashing and near-compulsive use of hand sanitizer will almost certainly reduce our risk during flu season. And, we’ll be prepared if another, even more dangerous pandemic strikes.
- No More “Powering Through” Work When You’re Sick
Working from home – or simply taking time off – when you’ve got a cough, cold or flu will be the norm. This will definitely provide companies with an advantage, since we’ll have an increased ability to maintain productivity, while limiting the spread of illness within an office. At the end of the day, we’ll see a healthier and happier workforce, which is a win for all involved.
- Cloud Creates Greater Scalability & Flexibility
The “stay at home” and “safer at home” orders have spurred companies across the globe to re-examine their digital strategies and their ability to accommodate remote work. For many businesses, this pandemic has prompted the development of cloud-based platforms and other technology that have made it possible for team members to work at home. This technology holds the power to increase productivity and reduce many overhead costs, resulting in a very positive business impact both in the short-term and the long-term.
- The Silver Lining
As we all become more aware of conscious distancing and other precautions, it’s expected that we will have fewer flu infections later during the Fall. Be safe and healthy!
At 7T, our team is here to help facilitate digital transformation, whether it’s part of a COVID-19 business continuity plan or a long-awaited project. We deal in a range of other technologies, including custom software development, CRM development, ERP development, cloud integration, data management, mobile app development and beyond.
7T has offices in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Austin, but our clientele spans the globe. If you’re seeking innovative digital transformation experts to help your company evolve in an attempt to minimize the coronavirus business impact, contact 7T today.