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No sooner had we entered a new decade than – well, let’s say “something else” took our attention. It’s tempting to go back and look at some of those articles predicting how the 2020s would be different from other decades from a tech point of view, but let’s face it, few of us could have predicted how quickly, and how completely, things would change. So it’s fair enough to give the writers of those predictive articles a pass on what they didn’t see coming.
It’s also a pretty good idea to look back at the first 18 or so months of the decade and see how things have changed. Obviously, there has been a reason for the unusual pace and extent of change that we have seen. However, it is still worth evaluating the difference that it has made in our lives, and the changes which have quickly become indispensable – because a lot of them are going to be more permanent than we probably imagined.
It’s only fitting that in talking about the first years of the 2020s we turn first to the way it has affected our health and the way we go about looking after it. Telehealth has quickly become an indispensable element of our reaction to the pandemic. If you don’t know what’s ailing you, it makes sense that you won’t want to go and sit in a waiting room, so online appointments are invaluable. It’s also possible to order prescriptions and have them delivered, and wearable devices that check your vitals are available too. However, we’d still always recommend staying away from Dr. Google – he causes more problems than he cures.
One of the most unpopular aspects of quarantining and locking down was the fact that it took kids out of schools – but for kids to be in classrooms, teachers and school staff needed to be present, and parents needed to take them there. So education has had to take on a more digital and distanced aspect, and tech is going to be more present in schooling even with the doors open again. From reading case studies about using classroom management software in K-12 schools, it’s possible to see how a change forged in the pandemic will now become the norm. Sometimes necessity drives innovation in ways we don’t expect.
Perhaps the most talked-about way that technology has changed things in the 2020s so far is the shift to working from home and the way that Zoom and Teams have now become a part of life. And we need to get ready for the mother of all debates about whether it’s necessary or desirable to reverse this change even when Covid goes away. When people were asked, pre-pandemic, what they hated about their jobs, issues like work-life balance, commuting and a feeling of being over-supervised were among the main reasons. Working from home changes the game on this point, and it’s easy to see how the issue could become a wedge that leads to some discord in the coming years.
We couldn’t have predicted how the world would change in 2020, and if we could choose to erase the reason for that change, we surely would. But now the change has happened, it’s easy to see how it could be embraced for the future.