Covid 19 has hurled us all into a new era for tech whether we like it or not, from video meetings, calls and workplace data sharing to online groceries and mobile ordering in pubs and restaurants.
Following the start of the pandemic and once subsequent safety measures had taken hold, it was estimated that around two years worth of digital transformation had occurred in only two months. These changes have affected people globally both in their working lives and at home which, for most, have seen a sometimes difficult merger.
Now restrictions are easing across England, can we expect to see these changes and innovations continue or a return to pre-Covid habits?
Gaming and Socialising - As may be expected with so many stuck indoors for so much of the time, the gaming industry saw a huge increase in sales over the course of the lockdowns, the online socal features being for many a much needed link to the world. Handheld devices especially are growing in popularity for those who have been or are returning to commuting.
With face to face interactions and the re-opening of much of England, this trend for gaming companies is unlikely to sustain save perhaps with commuters, but the use of remote socialising may well remain high, certainly more so than times pre-Covid.
Another social change that has become commonplace is the use of remote ordering in pubs, bars and restaurants. Whilst this might be less welcome change to those who may be less tech savvy, for many others it has been a well-received and streamlining new feature of going out.
Cyber-security - With the increase in time spent online, as might be expected sadly, we have also seen a steep rise in malicious cyber attacks. Many internet users have become far more complacent in their online behaviours as links and QR codes have become the norm, so has the habit of clicking blindly. It’s the same, in essence, as clicking “I agree” without reading the 15 page T&Cs document - we’ve all done it. It hasn’t been challenging for hackers to alter links and domains which unwary clickers would probably prefer to steer clear of.
Pay attention to the URLs and links you are sent and make sure that it looks as you would expect, e.g. the country code and look for spelling errors.
Video over Voice - One trend which has had very mixed reception, and has affected a vast percentage of home and office workers, as well as in many social encounters, has been the preference of video calls over voice.
During the lockdowns it became significantly more normal to opt for a video call where we might not have done before. Of course it was nice to see faces and get a semblance of a real interaction with friends and family, and similarly in work scenarios it gave many a sense of normality and made meetings and discussions much easier to manage - on the flip side it meant that conducting a meeting in your dressing gown was more likely to be frowned upon, but that’s probably an acceptable hardship.
Transport - We will always have a need for public transport, likely more so going forwards than ever before. But the increase in use of apps to get us where we want to be has altered the face of public transport quite significantly.
There was a marked increase in people opting to cycle and walk instead of drive last summer, during the initial lockdown, but already this year the roads have been much busier again. We’ve also seen a huge increase in e-scooters and similar temporary use vehicles around most cities and large towns. Will the novelty fade? Only time will tell on this front.
It is likely however that the changing working trends, which look to be here to stay, will have a gradual but notable effect on people’s driving habits. Many are already looking to travel to work less or switch to more economic or electric cars. Conversely, with the increase in “staycations” and more local holidays, the overall use of cars per household may see a rise.
So it’s clear that in numerous and quite significant ways, we are very likely to see a continued increase in tech-heavy methods in our work lives, social and home. Not all of our pandemic-induced habits will stick with us, some will need to develop further to accommodate the “new normality,” some will become part of daily routines.
What online habits - good or bad - in your work, social and home life have you picked up which you might not have without the pandemic? And do you think you will uphold it as life opens up again?