The coronavirus pandemic has had many unfortunate effects on the world we live in. Together with millions of deaths around the world, the pandemic has caused unprecedented levels of separation between friends, coworkers, and families. Businesses have also been negatively affected by a lack of connectivity.
Fortunately, the Internet has been able to remedy some of the problems of today’s society by providing unique opportunities to socialize and see family members. People have also been able to make and keep appointments online, talking to their doctors, mental health providers, and other professionals like lawyers and tax preparers.
Jonathan Ramaci examines some of the ways in which the increasing demand for connectivity in the post-COVID landscape will continue to have a lasting impact on our society.
One of the most upsetting aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has forcibly separated extended families. Children and the elderly are uniquely vulnerable to the loneliness caused by a lack of contact with their loved ones.
Video chat programs like Zoom and Facetime have partially compensated for the loss of connection with family members, but in many cases, precious family time is lost. Families are encouraged to teach their older family members how to use video chat programs and give them devices capable of this type of communication.
Parents of young children have felt isolated during the pandemic. Many parents’ support systems have broken down due to the forced separation of friends and family members. Parents can use video chat programs to get together for virtual mothers’ groups and social get-togethers. This could go a long way toward easing their isolation.
Medical care is another area that has seen large impacts from the coronavirus. Many healthcare providers stopped seeing patients in the office except in emergent situations. Mental health professionals were especially likely to switch to online therapy and medication management.
As the pandemic has progressed, doctors and dentists have encouraged their patients to return to the office to receive preventive care and cancer screenings. It is feared that the loss of face time between the doctor and patient will lead to undiscovered health problems. Doctors will need to perfect the art of the virtual visit.
The pandemic has also had a huge impact on education. Schools were shuttered in the early months of the pandemic and only began to reopen in the fall, some full-time and some with hybrid education. Teachers and students had to adapt to online models. This was easy for some students, but for many others, it significantly disrupted their education.
Lower-income children were less likely to have computers at home that were capable of video chatting and also less likely to have reliable Internet service. Some private corporations have stepped up to provide devices and connectivity to these households.
Working from Home
While students have been kept at home, workers have been as well. A large percentage of white-collar workers were able to work from home starting in the early months of the pandemic. People have had to adapt their working patterns and habits in order to accommodate these changes.
Parents had to juggle their jobs and childcare since most childcare centers were not open. This created problems for many families, but most have been able to adapt to the “new normal.”
Surprisingly, worker productivity has remained steady while employees have been working at home. Some companies may never return to the office.
Many at-home workers have found that they need better connectivity than they did before the pandemic. Some Internet service providers have begun throttling data even for unlimited customers. Some customers have been encouraged to change over to more expensive business Internet plans to avoid this problem.
Retail and Restaurants
According to Jonathan Ramaci, two sectors of the economy that have seen serious negative impacts from COVID-19 are retail and restaurants. Non-essential retailers were shuttered starting in the winter of 2020. This significantly cut back on worker hours and wages as well as retail sales.
Retail sales largely moved online, a phenomenon that saw a 36 percent jump in online sales between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020. People needed good connectivity in order to get most of their shopping done online.
Restaurants have perhaps been the most damaged by the pandemic. Internet connectivity made it possible for many restaurants to survive during COVID as they turned toward pickup and delivery services. Restaurant tech companies like Grubhub and Doordash have seen huge sales growth this year.
The Impact of Connectivity and the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a hugely expanded demand for connectivity services. People came to rely on their home Internet service for everything from education to work and social activities. Many people have realized that they do not need to commute anymore and will stay at home as long as possible.
Jonathan Ramaci knows that people are eager to return to a time unaffected by COVID, but he warns that many of these changes may be permanent. He advises that workers and businesses adapt their activities to provide the best outcomes.