As restrictions are lifted and businesses slowly re-open we find that our lives have changed. Our social customs are suddenly different. Shaking hands is a thing of the past, but it still feels awkward to meet someone new without extending a hand. Wearing masks is now standard fashion. Keeping our distance in public still feels a little strange. For many, going to the office means walking down the hall and booting up the laptop. We all need to get accustomed to these new social norms because they are not going away.
Learning New Habits
We are creatures of habit. Once a habit is developed and a comfortable routine settles in, making changes requires significant enticement or a major disruption. Covid-19 qualifies as a major disruption. While the pandemic itself is (hopefully) temporary, many of the new habits developed as a result of forced social changes will become permanent. These new social, economic, work and technological habits are the foundation of what is the “new normal.” It is not something we will see in the future. The new normal is happening now.
Over the last one hundred years, social norms included mass gatherings of people for entertainment venues, sports events, shopping, travel, worship, politics, business, recreation and more. We have become a global society of close personal contact. The pandemic suddenly created the necessity for social distancing. Our comfort with mass gatherings has quickly evaporated. Many believe that these changes are temporary even though the length of time is uncertain. However, the longer these social changes remain in effect, the more comfortable they become in practice.
Business, Education and Technology
Two major and likely lasting disruptions caused by this pandemic are business offices and universities. The practice of large groups gathering every day in office buildings and classrooms has come to an abrupt stop. Offices are closed and workers’ now operate from a desk space, computer and internet connection at home. University students have been sent home with no certain timeframe for a return to campus. Face to face meetings, classroom lectures and presentations have been replaced by remote video connections, video conferences and e-learning applications. Mobile carriers, network service providers, ISPs and cloud services are dealing with a sudden, massive increase in bandwidth demand.
Here is some evidence of how these changes are becoming normalized:
Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey has just announced that any employee who can work from home will be allowed to do so permanently. Employees will also be given a $1000 home office supply budget.
The entire California State University system will fully transition to on-line learning for this coming fall semester. Many other primary and university education systems will likely follow suit.
Traditional transport has been so disrupted that even smugglers are changing their methods and targets. In the UK, Peter Goodman, National Lead for Cyber Crime and Serious Organized Crime said recently, “We’ve seen traditional criminality, particular organized crime, turning their hand to the digital world in a way that they haven’t before.”
Paris is no longer a city of cafe culture…it is take out or nothing.
When businesses and universities reopen, things will be different. People will be reluctant to gather in large groups, and remote working, on-line meetings, internet shopping with touch-less delivery will all be much more common in our daily lives.
Mobile operators and other service providers for internet, government, enterprise and cloud networks are scrambling to increase bandwidth and network availability as demand skyrockets. Service providers must also look beyond simple bandwidth provisioning to include security and privacy with their services. As more business, education and personal connections are conducted on-line, maintaining data privacy and infrastructure protection will be critical to network operations. As new and faster links are quickly being added to networks, visibility infrastructure will also need to grow in lock step with the access capabilities. Monitoring and security tools must be added along with switches and routers.
As networks grow, tool management becomes more complex. All traffic must be accurately monitored and all links must be protected. Fortunately there are products that are specifically designed to provide fast and accurate deployment as well as simplified management of network tools.