The future has never been easy to forecast, and the coronavirus makes life even more unpredictable. To gather informed perspectives on how we most likely will live, learn, work, and communicate when we reach the new normal, National Geographic interviewed a range of experts and leaders.
One positive aspect of schools closing may be how districts are innovating to improve learning from home. Although equal access to tech remains a barrier, tools will be designed that may bridge divides. K-12 students will use technology to help with homework, set goals, and measure progress. And college students may find campus to be optional, Arizona State University president Michael Crow says. ASU is one of a number of schools evolving into a new “national service university,” ballooning its enrollment to provide high-quality and low-cost education on a larger scale.
The future of work won’t be fully remote, but it won’t be clustered in offices, either. “It’ll be a hybrid,” says Martine Ferland, CEO of Mercer, a human resources firm. Smaller offices will be hubs for occasional in-person collaboration, while enhanced digital tools—such as better video chatting—will support workers at home. And more emphasis on balancing productivity with personal needs will allow employees to organize their work hours to fit their schedules. Flexibility, Ferland says, will be the ultimate job perk.