The New Normal?

Life After Covid-19

Much has been said of the economic chaos the emergence of the novel coronavirus has wrought. Trillions of dollars have already been lost in the markets; the travel industry has been decimated; and entire countries are effectively closed for business.

Short-term, the economic damage from coronavirus is certain to be severe. The human toll won’t be fully known for some time. Less considered at this early stage is the potential for lasting impacts. The markets will take coronavirus out of pricing calculations in due course and, economically, the world will return to a semblance of normalcy. And policy makers will, one hopes, reverse the ill-advised decisions to dismantle the country’s epidemic response capabilities.

But what of us? In our (mostly) sensible efforts to contain the spread of the virus, we may have discovered new facts about ourselves and our lifestyles. First: working. The rash of businesses and organizations instituting work-from-home policies may be a harbinger of long-term change in the nature of the workforce. If so many people can stay at home for so long, without sacrificing productivity, morale, etc., then many businesses have what is effectively a glut of office space they don’t really need that’s costing them a small fortune.

It turns out that many of us can do at least as much, at least as well, and at least as quickly without sitting at our desks five days a week. Factor in the time and expense saved by not having to commute, along with the office space that is no longer needed, and it becomes clear that everyone benefits from this arrangement.

Everyone, one might think, except real estate developers. But reduced need for offices provides a rich opportunity to revitalize the urban housing market. Imagine hundreds of thousands of new rental units and mid-range condos created from converted office space in urban cores across the country.

Once we get that fully into our noggins, employers and workers alike may seize the opportunity to reduce costs while maintaining the full value of our services.

There are also many other habits we have grown into which, having been paused, may not seem so necessary.

This kind of periodic, unpredicted perspective may provide an opportunity to cleanse ourselves of a lot of things that diminish, rather than enhance us. And it starts with TRUMP.

Go, Joe – GO!

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