We celebrate Labor Day weekend this year while dealing with a pandemic and many people forced out of work because of it. Many service industry jobs have gone away, at least for the time being, and maybe permanently.
While many businesses have been helped by the federal paycheck protection plan, they have been forced to figure out how to survive in a new reality. How do they make money while providing services to customers who are prevented from coming into their businesses? Delivery, curbside pick-up and doing business outside can only go so far.
As the public gets more comfortable with new restrictions, and living with a new virus in our midst, businesses continue to innovate to survive. Some have benefitted from the new reality, but others struggle.
How do you lure people, who are afraid of catching a virus, back into your restaurant, bar, movie theater, entertainment venue, hotel, or other business location? People are still leery of travel, especially by air.
Even when we have a good, safe vaccine and everyone can get it, will that bring things back to a pre virus normal?
Chances are that some of the forced changes businesses and customers have been dealing with will become permanent. Information based businesses have discovered that with a laptop and high speed internet connection their employees can be productive from home or anywhere. Why pay for huge, expensive office space in whatever city, when it is apparent you don’t really need it. Sociologists have been saying this very thing for some time, and the pandemic has accelerated the change. Commercial real estate values in many areas are dropping while residential home values in other areas continue to rise substantially.
Apartment, condominium, and single family home developers are redesigning to provide more desired amenities for working, learning, living and playing more at home. New jobs are being created to convert existing homes for the same reasons.
Service businesses will have to follow the customers. Delivery services will continue to thrive. New conveniences for people who continue to work from home will be developed and grow. There will be a shift to new types of service sector jobs.
But Americans are social people. Even though we may be spending more time at home and using Zoom™ for meetings, we still desire face to face human contact and social interaction. We always will, so a total change to an isolated lifestyle is unlikely. How we labor may change but as we always do in America, we will adapt and flourish.