Americans have been working in modification mode for more than a year, finding ways to adapt home, work, worship and entertainment to a virus-restricted world.
And some of those adaptations are just too good to lose once this is over.
Many businesses made changes that worked better for customers and employees and that could result in reduced expenses even after COVID-19 is a bad memory.
Take, for example, curbside pickup. Before the virus hit, several local stores were just starting to experiment with the idea of people calling in a grocery order, driving to the store and having it delivered to their car.
Now, as we know, just about every grocery store and major retailer offers free curbside pickup, and some will deliver to your home for a small charge.
Why is that a method worth delivering? First off, it has been immensely popular, but also the Baby Boomers – generally people born from 1946 to 1965 – still represent a major population cohort, and that means a large number of citizens aging at the same time. They will spend their money where they can find convenience.
Restaurants would do well to bear that in mind, as well, when they consider whether to continue offering takeout and delivery.
Customers have also come to enjoy the freshness of outdoor seating, even in cooler weather, so eateries and the local governments that give them permits should ensure that option remains available – and for longer than in the past.
During the pandemic, many businesses and governments switched their office employees to a system that was rare before this all started: working from home.
Few U.S. businesses had believed that their workers could be productive if they weren't watched all day by supervisors. But, as it turned out, many employees embraced the flexibility and showed they could be just as, or even more, productive.
Businesses employed systems such as Zoom and Microsoft Office to continue personnel visibility, and they developed methods to track productivity.
Many found that having employees work or learn online from home cut down on office overhead and business travel expenses. And the flexibility was an enormous help for many families. Those benefits could continue into the future.
"As offices reopen, many firms are embracing 'hybrid' arrangements where employees only come in a few days a week," The Morning Brew business newsletter recently reported. "Which is apparently what they crave: A Microsoft survey of 30,000 workers found 73% want flexible remote options. Microsoft itself is already allowing some workers back, with part-time remote as the new standard."
Some other ideas we would like to see continue? Church broadcasts of services, which are more inclusive for the homebound. Continued periodic sanitizing of store self-checkout devices, to reduce illness. School livestreaming of sporting events, so fans and family members who can't attend or don't live in the area can watch.
When the world got socked by COVID, normal activities were replaced by the "new normal." Now we need to assess what worked and didn't and move to an even newer, better normal.
— Plattsburgh Press Republican