All The Ways Your Life Is Likely To Change After Coronavirus

Photo credit: Issy Muir - Getty Images
Photo credit: Issy Muir - Getty Images


With one television announcement, life as we knew it changed dramatically.

Commutes to the office, impromptu dashes to the shop, drinks at the pub, celebrating birthdays with friends, holidays, gym classes, family visits, hugs and handshakes were all rescinded from our list of daily privileges.

The Coronavirus pandemic - which was first brought to our attention in January after doctors in Wuhan, China noticed a strange, new virus spreading rapidly - is history-defining. It is the biggest crisis that the UK and many other countries have faced in peacetime, so the response has been unlike anything most of us have ever experienced.

Over the past few weeks, following compulsive news watching and interpreting graphs that show promising downward curves after the virus's tragic peak in April, there are signs the lockdown is easing. From next week, we can see groups of six for a socially distanced walk, picnic, or garden party and some children will return to school June (though this is not without controversy).

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

These are small steps towards normality - our pre-pandemic life of last-minute trips, walk-in dinner reservations and crowd-pleasing festivals are a long way off. Boris Johnson has acknowledged that a vaccine (considered the only way to entirely eradicate Covid-19) may never come, and if it does, it could take years.

If there remains a threat of the virus, even if much smaller than during the first half of 2020, life will continue to be different. So, what could a post-Coronavirus world look like?

Working life after Coronavirus

Since the pandemic, employees at companies who have never before had a work from home policy have found themselves navigating makeshift desks in cramped flats and with new sleeping schedules as commutes have been cancelled. For key workers, there has been a colossal pressure applied to their jobs with monumental changes in the day-to-day too, and pretty much everyone has added a new word to their vocabulary: 'furlough'.

For those at home, returning to a bustling office, politely fighting over shared microwaves in a tiny communal kitchen, by way of a packed out commuter train, seems unthinkable. Even with a future risk of catching Covid-19 being lower, it's likely all these measures will be taken into account when lockdown has been opened back uop.

For example, Dr Tara Reich, a reader in Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management at King's College tells ELLE UK that it might be difficult for companies who have a hot desk way of working to continue this. Businesses will likely stagger work hours to stop everyone arriving at the same time and continue the practice of working from home, even if it's for part of the week, to keep the number of office staff down.

Photo credit: mapodile - Getty Images
Photo credit: mapodile - Getty Images

Our attitudes to work might change as a result of this too. Coronavirus has highlighted how an external event can change your employment status overnight, which people might now take into consideration when considering future job opportunities.

'Given the uncertainty of the post-COVID-19 job market, my sense is that those who have stayed working, as well as those furloughed but brought back to the same organisation, will stick with their employer,' says Reich.

'For some, they might feel they have no other option [due to a fractious job market] but for those who feel their employer has treated them well during the crisis and shown care and concern for all employees (furloughed or not), they are likely to stay. That’s good for them and their employers, because they are likely to be happier and more productive.'

What about our workplace connections? So much of work is about the social side which comes with professional benefits too, through networking.

'For many people, work is more than just a place to make money; it also provides a sense of belonging and purpose. That is always important, but people will feel it especially strongly right now,' says Reich.

'In terms of workplace relationships, I think it will be really interesting to see what happens. The trappings of power really matter in face to face communication; the boss has the larger office, sits at the head of the table, and wears the power suit, all of which have essentially disappeared as workers move online. This has been replaced by glimpses into the home and personal lives of colleagues at all levels of the organisation.

'However, it’s more difficult to establish and build good quality relationships when we have to communicate online because virtual communication tends to be more formal - we don’t get those spontaneous opportunities to connect to others in the corridor or over a pre-meeting coffee. And no matter how good the wifi connection we actually can’t look people directly in the eye or fully mirror their expressions, both of which are important for developing trust.'

Travelling After Coronavirus

In an unprecedented move, the government advised against all but essential travel when lockdown began. Now, anyone arriving in the UK will have to quarantine for two weeks. In an increasingly globalised society, universal travel has been one of the biggest changes in the status quo.

Jon Thorne, Director of User Satisfaction at flight booking platform Skyscanner, recently suggested more people might choose flexible flight bookings after learning from the pandemic, given that several airlines and hotel companies have recently introduced their most flexible options in years.

Coming from a very privileged country, UK travellers are accustomed to visiting the majority of countries around the world with relative ease. However, that might not be the case for a while. Some countries are looking into travel 'corridors' and 'bubbles' meaning only travel between select countries is permitted. New Zealand and Australia are investigating this option at the moment, while China is considering a bubble with neighbouring Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

'Travel bubbles paint a picture of what the first phase of international travel looks like,' says Thorne, suggesting that the first place many UK residents might chose to visit could be Ireland which is one of the only countries exempt from the self-quarantine restrictions.

Photo credit: Panuwat Dangsungnoen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Panuwat Dangsungnoen - Getty Images

Other countries will adopt their own rules, for example popular Indonesian tourist hotspot Bali is suggesting tourists must provide a negative Coronavirus test in order to visit.

All this indicates that people will choose local destinations going forward. The 'staycation' was already an emerging trend due to increased environmental awareness as well as economic factors, but as Joe McDonnell, who manages insights at trends firm WGSN, told ELLE, the pandemic is speeding up some existing changing behaviours in consumer behaviour.

'Financial anxiety will drive more consumers to vacation locally and look to staycations,' he says. 'Post-lockdown, consumers will reprioritise time with loved ones, local connections and privacy... opting for intimate isolated holidays with a few friends or family members. Wealthier groups will prioritise transport by private jets, while other groups will focus on private transport such as cars, providing flexibility, anonymity and a controlled environment.'

What we've learned from 11 weeks of lockdown is likely going to extend into what type of holidays we choose too, McDonnell says.

'One knock-on effect is that consumers are turning towards the natural world, exploring parks and taking up new hobbies such as running and cycling. Post-pandemic, consumers will display a newfound desire for outdoor and active holidays away from people, enjoying the therapeutic effects of being surrounded by nature rather than the anxiety of being surrounded by people.'

Retail and Hospitality after Coronavirus

Another announcement by Johnson this week was that non-essential shops will begin to open from June and then, in July, we could see the steady return of restaurants, pubs, cinemas and gyms albeit in a different form to what we are used to.

A restaurant in Spain has installed glass partitions in diners, while a Dutch eatery has offered quarantine greenhouses to reduce interaction with other customers, but in spite of such measures, McDonnell predicts a continued resurgence of at-home events.

Photo credit: tumsasedgars - Getty Images
Photo credit: tumsasedgars - Getty Images

'Post lockdown there will be an increase in small gatherings with friends at home, with people opting to cook in order to manage their food as well as prioritising close friends and loved ones over mass gatherings. Restaurants globally are digitising their offering where possible to keep customers engaged as well as offering delivery service meal kits and online cooking classes.'

As for shops, we are now used to long supermarket queues, greeting staff in masks and sticking to a designated square marked off with tape when inside, and these social distancing requirements likely remain in place over the next few months at the least as non-essential shops reopen too.

Tracey Clements, chief operating officer of Boots, told us they are keeping social distancing measures for as long as is required, and expect where people shop to change too.

'We are rolling out a new wave of PPE, including permanent Perspex screens at till points and social distancing guides that we can have in place for as long as we need them. During this time, we have also seen customers returning to their local community shops and as we look to the future, we expect that will continue.'

Though Boots has been open as an essential store due to its role as a pharmacy, they will soon be reintroducing their beauty counters and told us about the upcoming changes.

'Our beauty and brand specialists will be back and they can’t wait to provide our customers with great tips and advice, but there will be no consultations and testers will be removed. When the time is right to bring back testers they won’t be on public display in the beauty aisles, and will be dispensed by a Beauty Advisor with strict hygiene and hand-washing measures in place. Perfumes will be spritzed onto an individual fragrance blotter, liquid foundations will be pumped into a disposable pot and powders will be swiped with a single-use sponge and placed into a disposable pot.

'Whilst this does mean no testers or face to face consultations for the time being, we’re excited to be able to offer digital solutions with trials through No7, Liz Earle and our Boots Beauty Specialists.'

Social interactions after Coronavirus

Even for the most understanding and supportive of the lockdown, being separated from friends and family has been one of the hardest elements.

Though we are now permitted to see family and friends (provided it's no more than six people and is outside) we still can't hug, kiss or get closer than two metres to our loved ones. As creatures of habit, we will just go back to our old tactile ways once the threat of the pandemic is finished?

Photo credit: Maskot - Getty Images
Photo credit: Maskot - Getty Images

'We are social creatures,' explains Dr Leslie Gutman, the director of the Behaviour Change MSC programme at University College London (UCL). 'We learn, grow and thrive as a direct result of our interactions with others. We all need to have face-to-face social interactions to nurture our development and wellbeing. This is not going to change, no matter what. We might, however, focus more on smaller get-togethers and spending time with those we really care about after the pandemic.'

The remaining fear of the virus is is likely to have an effect on how people act too.

'With the threat of a pandemic, the most common emotional response is fear. If the threat is completely eliminated (such as with a vaccine), people may resume to shake hands or kiss on the cheek. If the perception of threat remains, however, people may be less likely to engage in these behaviours. Over time, we could see a shift in the social norms, where it is more acceptable not to shake hands or refuse a kiss on the cheek. Those of us who have a strong perception of threat will most likely to avoid large crowds.'

The pandemic has also seen people unite for the common good, whether that be fundraising and volunteering for the most vulnerable affected by the crisis or an increased respect for frontline workers. It would be refreshing if this lasted.

'The shared experience of a collective emergency often gives people a greater sense of shared identity and concern for others,' Gutman tells ELLE.

'Hopefully, we will be more appreciative of what we normally take for granted such as our health and health care workers, our schools and teachers, our freedom and liberties and so forth.'

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