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How the Pandemic Changed Us Forever

By Tommy Baltzis, PCMA Chairman

The world has changed immensely from this pandemic — the way we work, the way we look, the way we think. As we enter a new era of human life, I decided to reflect on some of the experiences I encountered throughout the pandemic, and look towards the future.

In 2015, I wrote an article for NEMA’s magazine (“National Exempt Market Association”) entitled “A changing landscape.” When I look back at that article, it could not hold more true today. Not only has the landscape changed, but so much more has changed forever…and some aspects will continue to change.

Our work lives

Output focus: Over time, the main KPI (“Key Performance Indicator”) we focused on was working hours. Time will be eventually be replaced for judging performance by productivity and output. Great employees will be the ones who deliver what they promise on a consistent basis and advancement decisions will be decided by capability rather than longevity.

Responsibility focused: The need to meet an 8 hour day will evaporate and will be replaced by clear tasks and responsibilities. Employees will do what needs to be done rather that spending time trying to look busy as part of the office.

Asynchronous work: Offices provide the illusion and gratification that synchronous work is being done all the time. In reality, as the world shifts toward globally remote teams, tools that enable asynchronous work to become synchronous are the most important. Many startups will try to tackle these kind of tools.

Overworked: Many companies worry that employees won’t work enough when working remotely. The opposite will be true and become a real problem. Remote employees burning out because they work too much and have trouble “disconnecting” will need to be addressed.

Our personal lives

Lifework balance: The rise of remote will lead to people re-prioritizing what is truly important to them. Organizing their work around their life will be the first noticeable switch. People realizing that there is more to life than work will lead to a deeper purpose in other areas of their life. People will realize that we no longer have to sacrifice work for living…we can organize work around our lives. We should also expect to see a massive increase in part-time and freelance work.

Rural living: Individuals will seek to move to smaller cities, where they will find a lower cost of living and higher quality of life. We should expect these regions to quickly innovate in order to attract these type of individuals before other regions develop. Better schools and faster internet connections are some of the aspects that will be required to innovate.

Hobbies renaissance: Remote working will also lead to a rise in people seeking and participating in hobbies in their local community. This should lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships which will overcome societal issues of loneliness and isolation.

Health and wellness: Working remotely has reduced the daily commute and we can estimate that employees will have 25 extra days a year to do other things. This will allow employees the freedom to organize things more freely in their day: afternoon runs and morning meditation are just some examples.

Remote living: Believe it or not, work from anywhere RVs will become a pretty interesting business. In addition, associated business parks and services will be in great demand.

Personal choices: Many people are all planning and are asking companies to allow to work remotely even after the pandemic. Factor in that many companies plan to hire remotely this decade, we can expect that employees will demand flexibility and resist to full-time office work.

Working environment

Death of Head Offices: the centralized office is on its death bed, but smaller strategic offices will persist. Offices will be used less frequently and for the goal of socializing, communicating important confidential matters, special gatherings and co-working. Offices will emerge as choice for letting employees who prefer that mode of work to operate from there.

Death of in person meetings: Wasting 2 hours travelling to a meeting is coming to an end. The benefits of in-person are eroded by the benefits you get of not travelling. That being said, conferences and networking events will become more important that previously in cultivating in-person relationships.

Diversity and inclusion: The most diverse and inclusive teams in history will emerge quite rapidly. Companies who embrace this factor will gain a competitive advantage to attract great talent around the world. Companies who are slow to understand this fact will lose their best people to their competitors.

Remote retreats: Yes… purpose built destinations that allow for entire companies to fly into a destination for a synchronous week are becoming a reality. They will likely be staffed with facilitators and educators who will provide training to employees focused on maximizing effectiveness.

Remote VISAs: Small nations will come together in order to attract remote workers at different stages of the year. This will be a huge opportunity to synchronize children education to enable families to be more flexible in choosing their location.

Personal Robotic process automation: This will be a major transformation to work for everyone. No-code tools help you build complex applications quickly without the need to hire software developers or learning to code. Expect these tools to enable workers to built Bots that will get rid of repetitive low added value tasks — a computer program that operates as an agent to simulate a human activity. Bots are normally used to automate certain tasks, meaning they can run without specific instructions from humans.

Community led Software as a service (“SaaS”): As no-code tools continues to grow and technology is barely a barrier, this creates the potential for the inclusion of large and diverse communities in every aspect of the software development and consumption life cycle that allows users to interact and share data


Private equity: This will become the hottest trend of the next decade for private equity: purchase companies and focus on making them remote-first. Just the cost-saving in real estate will be unbelievable. The productivity gains will be remarkable based on all the changes I enumerated earlier.

And a final hand shake or elbow bump to everyone.

I am sure some you have adopted some of these changes or are currently in reflection on considering making them part of your lives. As human beings, we always learn to adapt and move forward. On that note, I wonder if people will search for ways to greet each other if handshakes are considered bad form in the future. Maybe I am overthinking it but in the end, though, I suspect a simple wave “hello” will do the trick: an acknowledgment and a sign of potential friendship and an understanding that sometimes a little distance is kind, not rude.

I leave you all with this:

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”

– John Allen Paulos (1945)

An image of Tommy Baltzis

Tommy Baltzis

PCMA Chairman, CEO WhiteHaven Securities

Source: The Private Investor Magazine