It would be an understatement to say that 2020 turned out in a way that no one expected. The year was not only tumultuous, but it more than likely triggered changes which will be here to stay. As we look to 2021 with relief that 2020 has finally come to an end, here are some big ideas as well as some predictions which could manifest in 2021.
Preventive medicine is here to stay
The vulnerability triggered by the raging pandemic caused everyone to look for ways to prevent being infected. This was hardly a matter of choice, as there were no known treatments against the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Remember the heated debates on whether hydroxychloroquine was a viable treatment or not?
The lack of agreement on what form of treatment was best made everyone to scramble for information on what could prevent or minimize the impact of the infection. And so preventive medicine came onto the scene in a big way, and this is unlikely to change post-Covid.
Think about how many diseases, such as diarrhea, can be kept at bay simply by washing hands frequently. Mainstream medicine practitioners are likely to give more weight to preventive medicine rather than going back to the norm of prescribing pills after the fact.
We will be tracked a lot more than we are comfortable with
The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in the era of tracking apps to help trace the contacts of people who had been diagnosed with this infection. 2021 is likely to open us to greater levels of intrusion into our privacy.
For example, Spain has already revealed that it will maintain a database of people who decline to get a shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, and that this information will be shared with EU partners while respecting data protection laws.
It is therefore reasonable to expect that your digital footprint, more than your physical presence, will be of greater interest to the authorities and to large companies than ever before.
China’s dominance is likely to grow
We all know that the pandemic started in China and spread to the rest of the world, but that isn’t all we will see of China. The country was already challenging the U.S. for top spot as the world’s largest economy, and 2021 is likely to see this country flex its economic muscle even more.
Remember, life has nearly returned to normal in China and economic activity is at full swing while the U.S. and Europe are shutting down under the weight of second waves of the coronavirus, plus possibly deadlier mutations of this virus.
These additional lockdowns are likely to slow down economic recovery further while China will be seeing its economy grow.
However, the growing economic clout of China isn’t likely to be welcomed by all across the globe as lots of questions about its human rights record and the way it arm-twists its economic partners into pandering to its wishes abound.
Millennials will change Wall Street forever
2021 is likely to see millenials having a bigger say in the world of investing, especially on Wall Street. Several factors can explain this coming change.
First, millenials are poised to take up leadership positions on Wall Street as the boomer generation retires or, sadly, dies off.
Secondly, millennials are getting hold of inherited wealth from their parents while at the same time they are poised to reach the peak of their earning capacity in their different careers. These resources will give the millenials a lot of clout when it comes to reshaping how the investment world is run.
For example, millenials have grown up surrounded by technology, and this means that these individuals are likely to feel at home depending on an app rather than taking advice from a sweet-talking broker (no offense intended!).
Also, millenials care more about the social or environmental impact of where they work or invest their money, so companies whose activities are seen as harmful to the environment are likely to be less attractive to millennial investors. The maxim “follow the money” will take on greater significance as Wall Street transforms to align with the expectations of moneyed millenials.
Brick and Mortar Stores are Endangered Species
The pandemic accelerated the switch to a digital world, and online purchasing as well as home delivery systems grew to reduce people’s exposure to infection. 2021 will see more businesses go online and fewer people will be willing to visit a physical retail outlet to buy what they need.
This means that brick and mortar outlets are now on the endangered list, and the big question is, what will become of all that real estate? One possible alternative is to turn those spaces into residences, and some cities are already offering incentives to facilitate this transition.
Technology which makes people feel safer will increase in popularity
The technology space will see a boom in products which make people feel safer. For example, the pandemic created a huge market for manufacturers of pulse oximeters, those little devices you clip onto your finger to measure your blood oxygen concentration. Who even knew what a pulse oximeter was outside medical circles?
Such a device increases one’s feeling of safety once they check and confirm that enough oxygen is circulating within their blood.
2021 is likely to see an increase in the popularity of such technologies which give people a sense of safety.
The Age of servant leaders is upon us
People are likely to be more selective while choosing companies and employers to work for, and the character of managers is going to be under the spotlight. Servant leaders, those who put their employees and teams at the core of every decision they make, will have an edge over those who don’t hesitate to dish out pink slips at the slightest excuse.
2021 will mark the beginning of a huge interest in companies and managers that see their employees as the cornerstone of the organization. After all, we are just, hopefully, turning the corner out of the darkness triggered by the pandemic, so who would want a boss who doesn’t care about your needs, such as the need to work from home on some days while your kids aren’t back in school yet?
Prepare for a new wave of entrepreneurs
Millions of people lost their jobs in the U.S. as the pandemic took its toll on economic activity. Thousands were also forced to pull the plug on struggling companies as the reality of the pandemic hit home.
The result of all this upheaval is that a new wave of entrepreneurs is going to emerge from the ashes of the misery brought by Covid-19. For example, e-commerce is going to see a lot of activity in the years to come, and many will enter the digital world to tap those opportunities.
As the “new norm” gets established, entrepreneurial minds will most likely see new opportunities and move to grab them. Those who lost their jobs, or those who were awakened to the reality that their jobs aren’t as secure as they once thought they were, will start a side gig and possibly grow it into something big.
The real recession is coming
While 2020 saw a recession similar to the Great Depression, 2021 is likely to see Season 2 of this recession. A number of indicators point to this possibility. First, many companies which had initially reported temporary layoffs are now saying those sent home will not be coming back. Secondly, the companies which somehow managed to stay afloat without cutting the workforce are now beginning to feel the squeeze of extended disruptions to economic activity, especially with the second wave of Covid-19 making authorities consider rolling back the easing of lockdowns.
Of course not everyone is affected to the same degree during a recession, so the real question is, what are you doing to avoid taking a huge hit when the recession bites in 2021?
The structure of cities will change
The lockdowns in 2020 exposed how vulnerable communities are in the current way cities are designed. 2021 is likely to see a shift towards smaller clusters of communities served by various amenities, such as schools, shopping centers and hospitals, which are within a 15-minutes’ distance. In a short, a distance that one can cover on foot or by bicycle.
These changes are being motivated by the realization that the dawn of global pandemics and other disasters is upon us, and one way to soften the blow is to restructure the blueprints of our cities.
This list of big ideas and predictions for the year 2021 is by no means complete, so we welcome your thoughts on what else you see happening in 2021. Share your views in the comments below!
To Your Success,