How the Virus May Change Us All

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Chances are, the coronavirus pandemic will forever change the way you do business.

For one thing, business travel may be reduced. Already, Zoom is zooming; one report last week said videoconferencing traffic in North America and Asia has doubled since the outbreak began. Once execs finally see for themselves that meaningful interchange really can get done remotely, they may not be so willing to expend the time and money for many face-to-face meetings in the future.

For another thing, we likely will see more work-from-home options in the future. Last week, several universities, including California State University – Northridge, announced that students cannot sit in classrooms for the immediate future but will “attend” school virtually from home. 

Businesses similarly are allowing more work to be off site. Again, once bosses see that remote work can be good work, the culture for offsite work will grow.

And that, in turn, may trigger all manner of secondary effects. Will we need so much office space in the future? Will each family member need his or her own car? If more people are working at home, will business-lunch spots migrate to the suburbs?

Another effect: decoupling from China.

Businesses and consumers have long been addicted to low-cost manufacturing in China. But if Chinese producers increasingly are unable to deliver goods, American businesses will find alternate providers. And once they make the switch, it may be hard to go back to China, especially considering that country’s low wages, spotty environmental concern and suspected use of slave labor.

In short, big, disruptive splashes like the coronavirus often create ripples that have long-lasting effects. We can’t predict, of course, what all those effects may be. We only know that the coronavirus is likely to change the way businesses operate and the way you work.

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