20 Ways Our Lives Will Change When It’s “Over”

1132549892First of all, it will not be over when we gingerly begin to come out of homes with masks, gloves and social distancing. Life as it was before March 2020 will not return, now or maybe not ever. Our “new normal” will be a somewhat loosened version of isolation we now are all experiencing. It will surely not be over until a vaccine is found and even then, societal changes will ripple forever. Change is always uncomfortable, though not all change is bad.

Below is a synopsis of the many ways life will change, some are obvious and others more subtle. Thanks to friends Rich Riley and Dave Griffith for the inspiration for many of these ideas. Appreciate feedback on the ways you think I’ve missed. Here are the top 20:

1. The economy will continue to suffer as we enter a recession. Consumer discretionary spending will decrease, even among those who are still employed. The economic road back will be slow and take 18-24 months. Unemployment will be double digit for the balance of the year and will only slowly recede. Many service businesses which can not “make up for pent up demand” will not reopen.

2. More people will work from home/remotely as videoconferencing and remote work will become more acceptable.

3. Telemedicine will increase as folks realize the significant benefits (in some instances) and insurance companies move to reimburse for this type of visit

4. Accelerated adoption of online purchasing as people will move more aggressively to a non-contact, always open, robust ordering process (complete with full research capabilities) that is frictionless, provides easy delivery and in many ways is a better match for how we live our lives. In particular grocery online shopping, previously in its infancy, will continue to grow. The name Instacart is one many have now learned.

5. Elective decisions to be in large crowds will be made carefully with a deeper understanding of the health risks inherent in the process. Professional and college sports may experience at least a temporary shift to fans watching on television. Live events—sports, concerts, theater etc. will have fewer attendees.

6. Cultural institutions will suffer and become even more dependent on donations for their continued existence. Many will fail.

7. The frequency with which people fly is likely to decline as businesses embrace new technologies, reduce travel costs and rethink the increasingly burdensome prospects of air travel. Leisure travel will also decrease based on the belt tightening of the recession we will face.

8. People may be more likely to increase the use of automobiles for longer distance trips to mitigate the health risks and the increased friction in connection with flying or taking the train.

9. The US will have to rethink major supply chain decisions as we cannot afford to have 60%+ of all worldwide medical masks coming from one country (China). And overall, the US will have to rethink the supply chain for critical daily supplies and medical equipment necessary in the event of another pandemic.

10.  The medical community will need to solve the tension between the long-term trend requiring fewer hospital beds (as more conditions move to outpatient treatment) and the infrequent, but real, need for significant capacity in the event of a crisis.

11. Social norms with respect to touching (handshakes, hugging, etc.) will change radically.

12. Organized religions are likely to experience another reason for declining attendance. Minimally expect more “mergers” of houses of worship, and outright failure of others.

13. The impact of the crisis will change how companies (and individual consumers) think about liquidity and debt. Frugality/living below one’s means will be more common.

14. The increased level of understanding that employees must stay home when sick to avoid infecting other employees is likely to drive companies to change their employee sick time payment policies to be effective.

15. Unhappily, social unrest between the essential and nonessential and out of work will occur with increasing frequency and violence.

16.  The social safety net will need to grow significantly, and the resulting taxes and impact will be significant on business and society.

17. Inflation, at some point, will have to kick in with limited fiscal tools available to control.

18. Massive workforce development at the government level will need to occur to address unemployment.

19.  Social Security and Medicare will be stretched even sooner than forecast. But the needs will be greater than ever.

20. Academia will be forever changed. Colleges and Universities will be significantly hammered financially, perhaps permanently. Colleges/universities without a strong reason for being will fail. Online learning will increase and become a stronger supplement to in-person education

All in all, one can hope that good can come from bad and as we re-emerge. And that we do so with a different outlook about our own priorities in life with less selfishness, a greater concern for our fellow man, and an understanding that now more than ever we live in one world. It is more obvious than ever that every nation is interdependent health wise and environmentally.

Our hope is that our country will again assume a leadership role that balances our national self-interests with the broader interests of mankind.

More Strumings


  1. Thank you for another thoughtful article, Lonny. All 20 points make sense. I am dwelling on a similar question:

    If this is the end of America as we know it, what kind of America are we going to create to replace it?

    We can do it my default, with “swamp creatures” taking advantage of our distraction and making our polarization greater — or we can work together to create a better America, addressing the fault lines the pandemic revealed.

    For example decoupling health insurance from employment; insisting on a living minimum wage; requiring wise sick leave policies (as you mentioned); and greater taxes on the Super Rich to pay for robust public health system and safety net.

    Social Darwinism and rugged individualism will kill us.

    What kind of America would you invent?

    Stay well!


    • Lonny Strum says:

      We have lost our way as a country and the current Administration exacerbates the issues. But the problems existed in other administrations too. The polarization of rich and poor will create social unrest. We NEED a health system that works. It doesn’t work for anyone, rich or poor but clearly doesn’t work for poor. Our problems are deep and the solutions are not easy. But we need to start somewhere. A new Adminstration next year and some wisdom will get us on the road.

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