Like everyone, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about COVID-19. What I’m realizing is that the changes in social etiquette and the rise of alternative business models and communication are here to stay, post COVID-19. For example, telemedicine, previously an “option” in healthcare, will finally have its day in the sun. Here’s a list of other “new normals” that apply to small businesses, families, and society as a whole.
It’s a uniquely confusing time for small businesses. The question is what to do with employees. Many business owners I’ve spoken to who have salaried employees with paid-time-off (PTO) benefits are in a quandary. How do you pay salaried employees if there is no revenue generation? And even if you let salaried employees go, you’ll still have to pay them for unused PTO, either voluntarily or required by law. Small businesses may have a rainy day fund. But it’s unusual they can cover months of salary without ongoing cash flow.
In the future, employers will have to rely on gig workers or hourly employees, rather than salaried employees. And they may be less willing to provide benefits such as PTO or sick leave. If job security further erodes in this country, states may mandate PTO and paid sick leave, as is the case in California in regards to paid sick leave.
While working from home was often seen as a perk, it was not really considered the default status of an employee. Employers will start to rely on shared employees working from home. This way, an employee that was previously a full time employee with one business, can be paid as a part time employee since they will be kept whole by receiving part time work when their employment is shared by multiple businesses.
Rather than taking the chance on overcrowding in a restaurant or grocery store, more families will rely on delivery services. While services such as Postmates or DoorDash were having difficulty scaling in the past, the tipping point for their success has arrived. These services will expand and become more readily available in cities and suburbs across the country.
To facilitate this new business model, the former CEO of Uber started Cloud Kitchens. These are shared kitchens that cook food for delivery-only restaurants. Rather than being a brick and mortar restaurant, chefs or owners will produce their menu items for delivery only, and avoid the dine-in business altogether.
Society as a whole
Social distancing will be more pervasive than ever before. Will restaurants have to accommodate guests at half capacity? Will there be a demand for outdoor seating? Are you going to feel comfortable crowding into a bar? Walking sideways on your way to the bathroom or up to the bar to get a drink? Just as the fire marshals sets capacity limits on public spaces, the health department may implement additional restrictions.
On an even bigger scale, what about concerts or sporting events? Just as increased security screening was a result of 9/11, spectators will undergo infrared heat scanning for fever screening. And what about conferences or summer camp? Will everyone undergo a temperature check each morning?
But the most shocking change of all? The hand shake. Dating back to 5th century BC Greece, the hand shake is now a custom of our collective past. While epidemiologists deem the elbow bump as the most appropriate alternative during the pandemic, the fist bump or wave will become the custom de rigueur in a post COVID-19 society.
Sure, it’s possible some of these predictions will not hold true. But make no mistake, life will never be the same in this post COVID-19 world.
What other changes are here to stay? Comment below!