Back in 2017, Bill Gates mentioned at a conference that an epidemic (that will shock the world) was closer than we thought. While most probably shrugged it off, a percentage of people who understood the high probability of that happening would've shuddered. Fast forward to 2020 and we've met a crippling pandemic that put the world at a standstill.

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Before we dive in, let me clear a few definitions for you: an epidemic is when an outbreak of disease spreads quickly among people all at the same time; a pandemic is a type of epidemic that covers a wider geographical area and affects higher numbers of the population.



1. More people working from home.

Businesses have had to adapt to the sudden change in the traditional office model, and more and more companies have had no choice but to send their employees home and work from there.

While there are no hard statistics on how many people are working online right now, the company Cisco reported that they're seeing 22 times more traffic on their video conferencing app Webex (much like Zoom).

What we're seeing here is a forced experiment on what it would be like if every company in the world had to work online. There have even been studies that show people are more productive when they work from home! They've stated that people work 1.4 more days a month in this situation, adding 16.8 days of productivity each year. (This is especially true for me, as even if my work hours are over, I find myself sticking around until the evening, sometimes even until midnight!)

What we need to watch out for in this case are sustainability and adaptability. Plenty of businesses were built with a traditionalist mindset, and it may take them long to realize that there are benefits to letting employees work from home. This experience might just make them rethink their abhorrence with handling a 'virtual company'.

(To provide a bit more push, here's an article that shows how a 20-minute commute time makes employees as miserable as they'd be if given a 19% pay cut.) The less commute, the better.


2. A shift to online learning.

As soon as the world realized that this pandemic was no joke, the education sector took action and declared schools and universities to shut their doors and conduct classes online instead. Instructors have had to re-learn their ways of teaching to accommodate an online system, and they've had to be more creative to push through a class with so many distractions at the tip of their fingers.

However, based on the reactions of some instructors, adapting this style of learning won't be continuous once this outbreak is over. Online learning is great, but there's a major problem: it compounds disadvantages. There's also the issue of those who don't have internet access in their homes or enough motivation from their parents to comply with school work (more so with younger students).

Regardless, our teachers are pushing through with 21st-century methods of instruction and will no doubt be able to come up with a solution that benefits them and their students.


3. Small businesses might stay closed - for good.

Unfortunately, your local mom-and-pop's will receive a hard punch from this pandemic - just like any other business. What makes this heartbreaking is the fact that more established brands will get through this crisis as they have more stability financially and can afford to continue the business.

Bars and restaurants have been hit the most and it's only thanks to delivery apps that they have the hope of staying afloat. However, that can only do so much. Without help from the government (the very body that has asked them to stop operating), it will only be a matter of time until the water runs dry and owners are left with no option but to close permanently.

As if that realization wasn't horrible enough, J.P. Morgan Chase predicted that a small business would only have 27 days before they go completely bankrupt. Employees of small businesses will lose their jobs and - once the crisis ends - will have nowhere to turn to but giant brands like McDonald's.


4. The concept of universal basic income.

It seems like the idea of a country paying a certain sum to its citizens (working or not) monthly is a crazy, drug-induced dream. However, this crisis may be what pushes this onto the table.

Third world countries like the Philippines won't be able to afford this, but for most of the world, this could be the norm in a few months. Denmark has offered to pay its citizens 90% of its workers' salaries while the United Kingdom offered to pay 80%. While it's not 100% of what a universal basic income should be, it's very close.

Finland was able to test a universal basic income system from 2017 to 2018. The results? It left people feeling happier, but still jobless. There was no improvement in work levels, but Fins were definitely less stressed. I wonder how our country would fare?