Our World Has Been Changed Forever By COVID-19
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

The world will never be the same. COVID-19 and the resulting changes will be with us from now on. It is time to better understand how these changes will affect the way we live and work. Many of the technologies driving these changes were in place before the pandemic. However, the rapid change required by the pandemic has caused us to dive deep into what is offered by remote and digital technologies. Our lives are different in three fundamental ways. We work differently, we live differently, and our expectations for the future have been radically altered.

Work will be decidedly different. We will never work the way we did before COVID-19. When the crisis hit, we made massive changes to our workplaces in order to be safe. Millions went home to work and used digital technologies to continue to execute their daily tasks. They utilized software they had used while in the office. Organizations used digital communication technologies to stay connected to their colleagues. An amazing thing happened. We all learned we could be distanced and still work together coherently.

Additionally, grocery store workers, public safety officials, medical personnel, and all frontline workers learned how to work safely while maintaining physical distance. We should be proud of the men and women who kept our community going during this remarkably challenging time.

MACNY members have radically changed the way they do business. They have found ways to produce world-class products and deliver outstanding services. All of this was done while caring for their teams and their customers. I am privileged to witness how the hard work and dedication has paid off.

Managers learned how to manage while not being physically located near their team. This not only happened for remote operations. This also happened in factories and other places where individuals needed to be physically present to do their job. I believe we will apply these lessons to future work. It will fundamentally alter how we believe we can and should work for generations to come.

How we live is different as well. When the pandemic hit, we were used to freely going places and attending events in person. We went to concerts, art festivals, movies, and neighborhood gatherings. We also attended school every day and mostly shopped in-person. Our lives revolved around our ability to do nearly everything in-person. The pandemic changed all of that.

We’ve learned to attend events virtually. We’ve learned how to live stream our favorite events to include music, movies, and small family gatherings. We’ve done the same with school at nearly all levels. In the future, we will go back to having opportunities to attend events. However, I believe we will still have the option to attend virtually as well. Our virtual world will not recede. It will increase and become a larger part of our lives. We will shop, view content, attend virtual events, learn, and interact at increasing levels with digital and virtual technologies.

Our expectations for disruption in our lives is now firmly in place. Before the pandemic, we had not fully witnessed a global health event due to a life-threatening illness since the Flu Pandemic of 1918. The entire globe is experiencing COVID-19. It will be with us for some time, and some predict it will be an ongoing threat. Just as likely, other global viruses or illnesses can quickly spread throughout the world due to our international connectivity and interactions.

There is no going back to a world that is not hyper-connected and interconnected. This world has both challenges and opportunities. We must learn to understand these critical dimensions. We should expect and be prepared for what will come next in terms of illness and other planetary challenges such as climate change, transforming technologies, and social unrest. Disruptions to our lives are here to stay.

What does this mean for all of us? Our future looks very different due to the pandemic. Our world has been altered forever. How we work, go to school, attend events, spend time with friends, and live our lives will be continually transformed by what we have experienced and what businesses and organizations will offer. Leaders at all levels of our society will use proven technologies and approaches.

We will move forward instead of settling back into our pre-COVID-19 lives. This is now apparent to all who are examining what has happened. An event this jarring and disruptive will not just fade away. Like World Wars of the 20th Century, life has permanently been altered; it is up to us to determine how best to live this new life.