As the coronavirus pandemic continues to bring uncertainty to our homes, workplaces, and communities, some long-term shifts in how we live, work, and play are starting to emerge.?
Several companies, for example, are already saying they will allow employees to work from home indefinitely, while severe changes to the travel and tourism industries reflects a leaning towards domestic travel for holiday-makers for the foreseeable future.
Overall, many of the trends that will stick for at least the next 12 months will lead to families spending more time together and in closer proximity than ever. In the last few months, we?ve seen the home turn into our makeshift workplaces, gyms, schools, study areas, and more. This all-in-one use of our home environments means every purchase, unlike pre-pandemic days, is more likely to be made for the purpose of the family than the individual. This means that if you believe the old adage that every company is a technology company, we?re entering an era where every company will soon need to be a family-tech – or fam-tech for short – company.
There are three main reasons this shift to fam-tech is here to stay:
- We?ve redefined what matters: The pandemic has forced every community member to re-assess their priorities, including the seemingly small things like daily coffees and shopping sprees at sales times. With a tougher economic climate, alongside the transformation of the home environment, businesses that have prioritised the new needs of families – such as remote working technology at competitive prices, or second-hand clothing that can be purchased nearby without having to go to major shopping centres ? are showing strong financial results during the pandemic, proving that prioritising the needs of families isn?t just common sense, it?s good business.
- We?re all in this together, literally: While the restrictions differ from state to state, generally speaking, families are spending more time together at home. This means there?s higher chances of children walking in the background of zoom meetings, the sound of cooking in the kitchen competing with the teachings of online courses via laptops, and the general chaos of the family home creating potential distractions during telehealth appointments. For businesses, they?ll need to revise how they build and design products from scratch, ensuring that ?the buyer? is defined first and foremost as ?the family?.
In my industry of online health, for example, there are many providers who are viewing the shift to digital as being as simple as replacing an in-person appointment with a video conference link ? but for effective telehealth services, there needs to be a more holistic and family-oriented approach to service delivery, and it?s important for parents to ask questions around ?what else? their telehealth provider does to ensure the family?s and patient?s needs are clearly recognised and taken into consideration during consultations.
- Flexibility is no longer a corporate concept: The pandemic has made both companies and families recognise that flexibility, when provided in every aspect of life, has extensive benefits, including greater productivity, improved stress management, and more options for busy, multi-tasking parents. Flexibility used to be associated with working slightly different hours or working from home occasionally, but now that we?ve had a taste of working and living on our own schedules and in the familiarity of our homes, there are shifted demands on every industry to step up. Retailers are expected to improve their delivery processes, banks are expected to make online finances easier and more comprehensive, and the health care system needs to be accessible from anywhere, at any time.
Francesca Pinzone is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of online allied health services provider, Umbo. She is passionate about bringing health services to children in rural communities and removing social inequalities. She has a MA in International Public Health from the University of Sydney, a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact from the University of NSW, and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing from the University of Technology, Sydney.
Francesca has over 12 years of experience working in non-profit organisations and in international development, having previously worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Pakistan, UNICEF in India and CanTeen in Australia, and also currently teaches Creating Social Change: From Innovation to Impact at UNSW Sydney with the Centre for Social Impact.
She is also a mother of a child who has received speech therapy.