10 Things That Will Change When We Come Out Of Lockdown
Updated: May 5
There’s no doubt that the lockdown has made us do some things differently and in some cases we may not go back to the old ways when lockdown is over.
Financial constraints will cement these changes and over a period of many years the changes will become the “new normal”.
Below are some of the most important changes that you might experience in the coming months after lockdown is gradually lifted.
Even before the pandemic, global warming had put air travel in the spotlight and even after lockdown has ended, there will still be restrictions on travelling across borders and this may last possibly for years.
As individuals we are set to have a period of financial hardship in the aftermath of state aid to help the unemployed and businesses coping with significant downturn in sales.
It is therefore likely that the ‘staycation’ will become more popular than ever before and overseas travel will suffer as a result.
If airlines have to observe social distancing inside cabins it may take the form of middle seats not being used - effectively reducing economy capacity by 30%. This will have to be reflected by average prices being increased by the same amount.
The prospect of having to arrive at the airport up to 4 hours before departure for medical checks will not entice people to want to travel.
Business travel in particular is one form of travel that many consider to be unnecessary. Businesses will be feeling the financial pandemic pain and will be keen to cut costs wherever possible. Business travel is a CFO no-brainer, especially as the technology to hold online meetings has got better and is accepted by participants as well as being affordable to corporations.
And for the same reasons, the conference industry will not return as its former self, and many conferences are hardly essential in a post covid-19 world.
Many conference organizers have had success already in providing online versions just to stay in the game. If clients get similar benefits with online conferencing, flying hundreds of people to exotic destinations will all but stop in the short term and be rare in the medium to long term.
Working from home
Working from home for some people was a euphemism for having a Friday afternoon off.
But for the majority of people who work from home, they actually do work and if you consider the fact that they are not wasting time commuting, going out to lunch, or being distracted by colleagues wanting a chat, they are probably way more productive.
The bosses who saw working from home as a potential skive and would not allow it on a regular or consistent basis, have now been forced to try it and enforced self isolation has taken most office workers out of the office and basically created the proof of concept.
If working from home (even if it’s just some of the time) is as productive as working in an office, there is no need for 100% office occupancy. CFO’s around the world will be downsizing the offices they rent. Expect commercial rents on offices and high streets (see below) to be affected.
Climate change action
The pandemic has forced governments to listen to scientists.
We hear in daily prime ministerial briefings that they are acting on the best advice our scientists can give us.
This is because they did not initially take the scientists’ warnings and predictions about the spread of Covid-19 seriously and were subsequently caught out.
It is becoming quite obvious which governments did take action fast enough by comparing daily death rates across different countries - Germany took very swift action following scientific advice and has now got a significantly lower death rate than the UK, who dragged its feet on taking lockdown action sooner.
Those very same scientists have been warning the government about the potential havoc that will come as a result of climate change.
Many governments around the world see climate change at best as too far into the future to worry about, at worst, as a total hoax.
Now the scientists have the upper hand and the ear of government. All action plans to prevent climate change will be accelerated and implemented much sooner.
There is a counter argument to this. Governments will have been totally wrinced of any cash that was allocated to climate change action and will have to delay even those actions that some had seen to be set too far into the future.
The High Street
Most high streets in the UK have been under threat for a while.
Online shopping and high rent and rates have taken their toll and there are empty gaps appearing everywhere.
Social distancing rules have effectively given online shopping the other half of the cake that it did not have before.
The weakest of high street retailers are announcing insolvency and this is only the beginning. And fewer shops on the high street will lead to those customers who still prefer the high street not finding enough variety and eventually turning to online shopping.
The same thing was already happening with restaurants - the rise of home delivery is quite destructive to restaurants .
Delivery companies like Deliveroo and UberEats take quite a large percentage of the bill, significantly reducing profits and at the same time enabling buyers to have a supermarket-bought glass of wine instead of a highly profitable glass of restaurant wine and possibly a coffee or dessert.
And of course, while people are having their meals delivered at home they are not sitting in high street restaurants. If no-one is actually eating in the restaurant why have it on the high street where rents and rates are high?
Restaurants will at best start to downsize on the high street and at worst move to delivery only type premises far from the high street.
Most governments around the world have borrowed staggeringly more than is normal and as the pandemic recedes we will see exchequers struggling to balance the books.
Most public spending will be reviewed downwardly, Taxes will rise, infrastructure projects put on hold (think about the suspension of Heathrow Airport’s 3rd Runway).
For many countries this could take 10 years or more to get back to ‘normal’ borrowing levels and at least 10 years of austerity way beyond the levels seen after the banking and Euro crisis after 2009. Time to move to Norway or Singapore?
Interest rates for savers will stay low for many years to come and It will take a while before peoples’ pension pots are back to where they were before the pandemic.
People planning to retire in the next 10 years will be affected - those retirement homes in Spain may not happen.
People who want to sell their houses upon retirement or downsizing will be faced with poor selling conditions. House prices will take a knock and perhaps renting will become more popular in the years to come.
Share prices are low, (although dividends are also low) so potentially represent an opportunity for making gains if you can predict which sectors are likely to do well in the aftermath! Look at e-commerce and larger retailers who were switching to online successfully before the pandemic.
Healthcare and in particular remote medicine and testing facilities are going to do well out of this and companies in the cleaning sanitising world - they’re going to have a couple of good years.
Tax on Petrol
It’s time for radical measures and there will never be a better time to introduce new concepts in raising tax revenue.
A steep rise in tax on petrol and diesel would seem to work given that crude oil prices are significantly down. Any corresponding consumer price rise due to tax would be negated by the fall in oil prices.
Petrol would stay the same price but the revenue collected would increase significantly - gain without the pain I’d say.
If and when normal oil consumption resumes, and the vast reserves of crude oil are eventually used up, petrol prices will rise, pushing battery technology into the forefront even more.
Strangely, people will be fitter!
Home exercise for many has exploded with online personal trainers like Joe Wicks, who has been doing his Youtube home exercise classes for years but he has been made super famous by doing a live class aimed at kids at home during the school lockdown.
It’s highlighted the fact that gyms are not essential to exercise and it’s opened up a huge new audience - older, younger, all sorts - that perhaps would not want/can’t afford gym membership.
Doctors and patients are being forced to use video call technology so that patients can avoid travelling to a GP surgery. As this technology ceases to be unusual it will gain acceptance among GP’s and patients alike.
Once this technology takes hold, it will clearly be much simpler to introduce it to regular GP slots.
And in the same way that call centres were moved offshore, this opens the door to GP’s anywhere in the world being able to provide online consultation - GP’s in India or Cuba are highly trained and are paid a fraction of a European-trained Doctor.
We’ve all been locked up for many weeks, possibly months and we’ve had time to evaluate things - all sorts of things, including how we socialize.
We have definitely started appreciating our remote friends and families and want to give them all a hug.
I think people are going to want to do more - do the stuff they had perhaps put off for one reason or another. So despite the grim situation we find ourselves in, we can still have a blast - meet new people, do new things.