How the pandemic is changing the way we use tech
Here are just a few ways in which the pandemic is changing the way we use technology.
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on longer than anyone would like, the new normal continues to be defined by doing things we always used to do — just differently. For example, many people are still working but doing so from home rather than at an office. People are still getting groceries, but often ordering them online and picking them up rather than going into a grocery store. And we’re still managing to find entertainment, but often online rather than at in-person events.
Some of these changes, such as ordering food delivery rather than going to restaurants, are likely temporary, but others may become permanent. In particular, many people are starting to use tech in ways they never have before and are finding out how convenient it can be. Here are just a few ways in which the pandemic is changing the way we use technology.
Digitizing Common Tasks
Things people have done in person in the past, such as grocery shopping, banking, and making utility payments, are now being done much more online. Take grocery shopping, for example. Rather than going to the store and picking items from shelves, shoppers can choose their products from a website and pick them up or have them delivered. This process is so streamlined that many will continue using it well after the pandemic has passed.
Because of stay-at-home orders or the desire to stay away from crowded areas, people who may have been reluctant to use the internet in this way have more of an incentive to do so. Those who have been moderate internet users in the past are getting or improving internet service. And those who have always been early adopters of technology are updating their devices and applications. Those increasing their internet savvy will benefit for years to come.
While telehealth — that is, accessing medical services online rather than in person — has been available for some time, its use has increased in the interest of keeping patients, doctors, and staff healthy during the pandemic. Additionally, this method frees up medical spaces, such as waiting rooms and hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
But telehealth isn’t just safe, it’s also convenient, especially for those with medical conditions that limit their mobility. That’s why this technology will also be used far into the future, with improvements that include robotic devices and other internet-enabled tools, such as heart-rate monitors and chatbots, to help medical professionals do their jobs and ensure patients stay healthy.
Making It Easier to Work From Home
Working from home has also been an option for some time, but one many employers have hesitated to implement. Now that they must do so for health and safety reasons, they’re discovering that employees can be just as productive outside the office environment, as long as they have the right tools.
Software companies are well aware of this need and have been updating and developing productivity applications for things like communication, project management, time management, hiring, and human resources. Technology can also help resolve some of the challenges faced by those working from home, including data security and privacy, isolation, and work-life balance, making it likely that some employers will allow this way of working when it’s no longer mandatory.
Enabling Online Socializing
By now everyone is familiar with the Zoom phenomenon, as the application is being widely used to enable online versions of every social function imaginable, from church services to happy hours. But Zoom isn’t the only one available for this purpose. A New York Times analysis published in early April states that wanting to see each other “has given a big boost to apps that used to linger in relative obscurities, like Google’s video chatting application, Duo, and Houseparty….”
The analysis points out that social distancing has also caused people to grow “much more interested in our immediate environment,” leading to a “renewed interest in Nextdoor, the social media site focused on connecting local neighborhoods.” These applications and many more will certainly continue to be useful in the months and years to come.
With many professional sports being halted or sharply reduced, and concerts and other live performances being canceled, people are finding other ways to entertain themselves. That means more things like Netflix and video games. The New York Times analysis states that “several video game sites have had surges in traffic, as have sites that let you watch other people play.”
While many people have added entertainment services to help them pass time, others have canceled them due to economic realities resulting from the pandemic. According to a Forbes article reporting on a recent Deloitte study, “Since the start of the pandemic, 17% of people have canceled a service. Thirty-six percent of those people say they’ve canceled the service because of ‘high costs.’” After the pandemic, many may find that, whether they’ve added or dropped services, those new habits are worth keeping.
There’s no question that the pandemic has changed life as we know it and will continue to do so in the coming months. Some of the changes will be permanent, especially those that have enabled us to learn how to use technology in new and positive ways.
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