Earlier this week, we discussed the impact COVID has had on some of our everyday habits in terms of how we socialize with others in public spaces like stores, gyms, restaurants and even on dates all during a pandemic. While we can only offer so many social safety tips, it’s important to also note the overwhelming developments of digital engagement technology that continue to connect us with our loved ones, educate us even when schools are closed, provide virtual healthcare services in addition to stabilize our economy with remote workforce management. That’s why in part 2 of our “Living In 2021” blog series, we are going to discuss how these advancements have evolved how we define “social interaction” as well as what this year ahead will look like with continuity of communication as its focus.

Working and Learning Remotely

When COVID-19 first hit, one of the major causes for concern was the shift to remote work and education. Many businesses and schools have had to familiarize themselves with telecommunication software such as Zoom or Google Hangouts at an accelerated rate. So much so, that as many as 42% of Americans were working remotely by June of 2020 and by September a whopping 73% of the 100 largest school districts had gone completely remote in k-12 public schools aloneDue to this major disruption in social normalcy, it goes without saying that 2020 has certainly broken the stigma around online work and education – and it is likely that there will be an increase of both remote-based learning and digitally-driven business strategy in the upcoming years. 

However, two common challenges found when working or learning in a remote setting are efficient time management and effective communication skills. Although engagement has proven to be ever changing, the biggest things to remember are to be honest and consistent. As far as time management goes, using tools like this Pomodoro timer or even a simple daily planner can help you manage your time and stay on top of tasks. If you’re an employee looking for more advice on how to successfully work from home, read more here but for employers in search of virtual company culture tips and tricks, click here.

Virtual Healthcare and Communication

Similar to business and education, healthcare has also taken on the challenges of delivering virtual care alternatives such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM). In fact, one of the greatest highlights of 2020 has been the impending rise of not only telemedicine, but digital healthcare software in general that incorporates intuitive engagement features that make it easier for patients, providers, referral sources and payors to all communicate more efficiently. With the widespread use of these new technologies, the healthcare industry has continued to provide quality care to patients as well as enable providers to innovate solutions that enhance patient experiences and encourage resilience. That being said, it isn’t surprising that research shows the positive probability of telehealth remaining a popular alternative to in office visits, even beyond the pandemic. For a better understanding of telehealth and RPM, check out some of our past blogs like Patient Innovation: What Is RPM? or Benefits and Strategies of Telehealth.

Rerouting Day-To-Day

Technology hasn’t just helped students, workers and healthcare professionals, it has given everyone the opportunity to regain some sense of normalcy and really focus on being grateful for the resources we do have. Even though things like facetime, YouTube, curbside pick-up, etc… have always served as useful tools in our pre-COVID world, this year they took on a whole new meaning of importance. As chaotic as the shopping experience was in the beginning of the pandemic (particularly in the toilet paper aisle), there is no telling how much worse it could have been without the convenience of online ordering and curbside pick-up. Thanks to grocery apps such as Instacart, many people have found that digital shopping is not only a safer solution, but it is also cost and time effective. Needless to say, just as other trends we have seen regarding virtual everyday living, it’s safe to assume that these shopping alternatives are likely to stick around even after COVID has ended.

Redefining Engagement

In a year of social distancing and masks covering up smiles, connecting with others has taken on a completely different level of significance. While in the beginning and even historically, some have challenged the sincerity of online engagement, as humans it has become clearly evident that we all depend on interacting with one another, no matter the means. Whether it be communicating virtually via our phones and computers, it is a given that we are more vulnerable, which leads to more genuine relationships, in depth conversations and raw memories.

There is a lot to be said for the ways that 2020 has shaped our world and a lot to soon be revealed in this year, forward. The recent adversities brought upon us have indeed caused so much grief and fear, but with that, it has also given us insight into just how technologically advanced, adaptable and above all else compassionate the world can be. The fact that we are still here today is proof of that, so here’s to 2021 and being ready for all that it has to offer.