The coronavirus may be that external shock that redefines in its essence some areas of how we live our lives.
Instead of just recovering and getting back to where we were before the coronavirus, some changes may be forever.
In three areas of our economic life, the changes produced by the coronavirus may be more lasting than previously thought.
1. Business trips
Business travel is often considered essential to the success of organizations and the effectiveness of their management.
There is no doubt that face-to-face meetings help build relationships and trust, which are crucial for a project to be successful.
But now that companies and other organizations are forced to radically curtail or halt business travel, they may find that they're not so essential after all, as long as they find alternatives that work.
Now that employees rely on Skype or Zoom calls instead of flying around the globe to meet in person, they may find that video conferencing is a good alternative: more flexible, friendlier to their family life, and more sustainable for the environment.
Bosses, meanwhile, see the possibility of dramatically cutting expenses.
So in the future, we may see a significantly lower number of business trips.
2. Remote work
The various arrangements for working flexibly are becoming more widespread.
But long-term work from home is considered harmful to individuals because they tend to work longer hours.
It also has its drawbacks for companies, because it raises coordination costs and some crucial benefits of being physically present are lost, such as building relationships and team spirit.
For these reasons, before the health crisis, there were signs that the classic physical office space was experiencing a kind of renaissance: some of the pioneers of remote work called their employees back to the office.
Now that remote work is a necessity, managers and employees alike will have to develop skills and figure out how to do it effectively.
Individuals will be forced to create new routines, and companies will have to find ways to create online spaces for colleagues to interact outside of formal meetings.
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Good relationships in the workplace are essential to the innovation and resilience of an organization. It remains to be seen what can act as a "virtual coffee machine", the place where colleagues meet, gossip and innovate.
The coronavirus may collectively force us to improve at remote work, which may emerge as a viable alternative to working in downtown offices.
3. Industry disruption
Many industrial sectors were already in a process of significant change before the arrival of the coronavirus.
The measures taken to fight the outbreak will accelerate these seismic changes.
Streaming services, for example, threaten the established business model of content creation and distribution, and Amazon is becoming a super-agitator for a wide variety of industries.
The coronavirus-required "stay at home" economy will dramatically accelerate the shift from the old to the new, making questions about market concentration and the possible need for regulation even more important.
The change will come from both the supply and demand sides. An increasing number of people will start using these services, enjoying them and becoming loyal customers. And the offer will also change. The traditional ones will be weakened and perhaps run out of business, and the agitators will continue to invest from a reinforced position.
In other sectors the change will be equally dramatic and possibly for the better.
For example, higher education has been slow in the transition to online teaching, but now that the sector is forced to offer online modules, universities are unlikely to return to the previous status quo.
There are great opportunities in online education, in terms of new markets for students and a cheaper offer.