Due to COVID-19, the last few weeks have seen a dramatic change in how we interact with the world. Social gatherings have been curtailed, shopping options are limited to essentials and leaving the house has become feared, if not illegal.
While circumstances have definitely changed, fundamentally people haven’t. We still need goods and services and we still need social interaction. Society has been scrambling to meet rapidly changing circumstances that have no precedent. (Unfortunately, those adaptations are often haphazard and overlook best practices.)
Thankfully, nowadays there are online options for many important services. Groceries can be bought online, as can prescriptions and almost any imaginable product. Amazon is reported to be looking for 100,000 more workers as eCommerce demand for the online retailer surges.
When it comes to food, online ordering for delivery or take-out has become mainstream. Restaurants that don’t offer these options may be forced to temporarily shut down. Of course, not all businesses can take the online route, but at least for many it is an option.
In terms of entertainment, online options are well established. While the community experience of viewing a movie, concert, play or sporting event is not the same as watching at home, it’s a small inconvenience compared to the risk posed by COVID-19. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO and the abundance of at-home entertainment make staying inside substantially easier. New forms of social gathering are seeing massive upticks in popularity, from virtual happy hours to packed online meetings.
You might not be able to visit a museum, but you can take virtual tours. Attending class might not be allowed, but you can still educate yourself and learn about an infinite number of topics. You can visit any number of online forums and discuss various topics and subjects that have been of interest for millennia.
The trade-off between inconvenience and health needs to be at the forefront for all of us. While many people’s lives have been upturned, others face a life and death issue. If we’re healthy and can recover quickly, this inconvenience might seem unnecessary. But if we act for ourselves and don’t take preventive measures, we can infect others who then go on to spread the disease. We have to act as a community and stand up for those who don’t have the same resiliency.
To give some perspective, there are many people who experiencing difficulty to attend a live event, restaurant or other social gathering at the best of times. Online interactions are one of the few ways they can experience the outside world.
Now, we are all mobility limited. Every sector of society is experiencing the realities of dependence on digital services and learning firsthand how crucial they have always been for vulnerable populations.
Looking for safety and security online
For people who are most at risk, such as immunity compromised and older individuals, online services are not only helpful in staying connected, they are literally lifesaving. Delivery of food and medicine provides the necessities of life when going out in public is risky or impossible. Accessible digital services are a fundamental tool for overcoming this pandemic as a society.
The online world, for the most part, does seem ready to handle this crisis. While demand has surged and there are some reports of slowdowns, there haven’t been huge disruptions. Smart companies have built systems that are scalable and flexible, which have served us all well.
One likely outcome of this period of time will be an acceleration to online business models. Whole industries that have only dabbled in online offerings are now ramping up solutions. Consider education; there were many courses online but the paradigm is still in-class learning. Or healthcare, where the availability of telemedicine was rarely used. In the next few weeks and months, these delivery mechanisms will become much more common and we’ll get used to them, both as a social norm and as ways to operate an organization.
Hopefully, as this crisis eventually fades, the systems we’ve developed for efficiency, speed and access continue to make inroads into society. This is, no doubt, a terrible situation. But it’s also an opportunity: an opportunity to learn about our capabilities, our ability to help those in need and our ability to overcome this together. As the initial shock wears off, we’ll have to re-examine what we can do and how we can all improve.
At Trulioo, we’ve always been about creating a safe online world that includes everyone. We always knew our mission was vital, but the last few weeks have made it that much more evident how important the digital world is for everyone’s daily life. No one should be left behind. Because everyone is someone.
In these strange times, we need a bastion of safety and security, some place to ride out the storm. The availability of trusted online services is not only about being able to order what we need, fight boredom and feel connected; the online world is a key to psychological health, allowing some normalcy into our overturned lives. For those providing digital services, this is a critical moment to protect our customers, our communities and our civilization. We all need to work together to hold the line, fight fear and offer the world something of true value — a safe home.