Exit from the Covid-19 Pandemic: What has changed, what will stay the same?

As we gradually phase out of the pandemic, it is now time to consider how the pandemic has altered the future direction of key trends.

July 7, 2021, Gökce Sandal

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every sector, but the scope and nature of these effects differ significantly across industries. Some industries like tourism experienced sudden yet temporary disruptions, while others like education and virtual experience economy underwent larger systemic shifts, where the pandemic accelerated pre-existing transitions. By understanding the future direction of these shifts, organisations can take advantage of these changes and set themselves up for success in the post-pandemic world.

To help organisations navigate the transformed world, Futures Platform’s futurists have designed an interactive foresight radar with 50+ cross-industry trends impacted by the pandemic. The radar maps out trends according to their anticipated future directions and time range. 

Want to see more? Start a free trial of Futures Platform to access this radar in editable mode and start customising it to fit your organisation's point of view.

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We have grouped trends into three different categories based on how the pandemic has impacted them: Trends that weakened during the pandemic but will more or less recover, trends that only got a short-term boost, and trends that got a long-lasting boost as a result of the pandemic. Below, we take a look at each category and its potential implications for organisations.

 

Trends that were temporarily disrupted

Trends that got a weakening impact by the pandemic mainly include sector-specific phenomena that were immediately disrupted by the lockdown measures. For example, tourism came to a halt as borders around the world closed down, and the steady growth of the sharing economy was disrupted as people began avoiding unnecessary human contact.

As societies re-open, we anticipate that trends in this category will largely recover from the pandemic’s negative impact, although they may pick up new traits along the way. For example, vaccine passports will introduce changes to the tourism and transportation industries. Physical stores and event venue design may likewise take new health-boosting measures to accommodate customers’ increasing demands for hygiene and personal space.

In the coming period, organisations must assess how the recovery path of these trends may look like in their operating environments. As these trends bounce back, there will be various innovation opportunities to re-design products, services and experiences in a way that reflects the new-found wishes and aspirations of post-lockdown consumers.

 

Trends that got a short-term boost

Just as the pandemic weakened the development of certain trends for a short while, it also gave other trends a short-term boost. Trends in this category are mainly related to our shifting priorities in a time of crisis. Hence, as we gradually turn back to our pre-pandemic ways, these trends will no longer be as emphasised in the post-pandemic world.

Some trends that got accelerated during the pandemic include misinformation, data consumption, isolation economy as well as some weak signals such as exercise prescriptions. For instance, the pandemic has placed a heightened emphasis on physical and mental health. As a result, many new initiatives have been launched to help consumers exercise at home or help them cope with pandemic-induced anxiety.

As we begin recovery, organisations will need to evaluate how relevant these trends will be to their target groups in the coming years. While many of these trends will surely keep strengthening, they will not be as top-of-mind for consumers as they have been this past year.

 

Trends that got a long-term boost

The pandemic has also left a lasting imprint on many industries. For many trends, the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic have packed many years of change into one year. One prominent example is digitalisation. As businesses and schools worldwide had to switch to virtual offices and classrooms, telepresence has quickly gained widespread acceptance. In addition, many smaller trends related to the megatrend of digitalisation, such as telemedicinecloud kitchens, digital payments and on-demand learning, also got accelerated.

Similarly, automated services and robotisation received large social acceptance much faster than they would have in a non-pandemic setting. From food deliveries to Covid-19 tests, robots became a common sight across various services.

Hence, rather than returning to business as usual, organisations and businesses will need to be prepared to accommodate their customers and employees' new behaviours and expectations that are connected to these larger systemic shifts. For instance, as offices worldwide begin to re-open, many employees who have embraced remote work as the new normal are now quitting rather than going back to the office.

 

Thrive in the post-pandemic world

How can your organisation leverage the opportunity to build back better and serve the changing priorities of your customers in innovative ways?

To help you explore opportunities and thrive in the post-pandemic world, our futurists continuously update the radar “Exit from the Covid-19 pandemic: What impacts will stay?” continuously updated to reflect the latest developments.

This radar is a sequel to Futures Platform's radar Covid-19: Initial Shock and Adaptationwhich was released after the initial onset of the pandemic in April 2020. Start a free trial of Futures Platform to access both radars - and get a complete view of how the world has changed during the course of the pandemic.

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