The global pandemic destroyed lives, forced layoffs, enforced remote working, and normalized virtual reality.

Millions of people worldwide started working from home in 2020, changing the work scene forever for many. Washing hands and wearing masks became almost a second nature to us.

Pre-2020 work-from-home(WFH) was only approved by organizations during an emergency. WFH was often considered taboo, hinting at employees losing the benefits of teamwork or an ergonomic work environment. The year that passed has changed all perceptions about working from home and altered business strategies.

March 11th, 2021, marked the first anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown because on that day a year ago, WHO declared Coronavirus as a global pandemic.

Most of us went through the phases of the initial denials, the rampant spread of the virus in a matter of weeks, those sudden deaths of loved ones whom we couldn’t grieve enough, long-distance from extended families, many canceled vacations, battling loneliness, sudden job loss, homeschooling kids, starting new ventures and endless working from home.

Here’s how the days initially looked like, and how top corporations, businesses, and the overall economy coped — also, a quick look at the worst-hit industries and how the new normal would feel like.

What WFH during Covid-19 meant to employees and employers — Changing mindset and trends.

For several full-time employees, it meant no more juggling in the traffic in the morning and evening rush hours, saving at least 2 hours of commute time. Working from home also means waking up to a slower morning, but overworking with no sense of time, no human interaction, in a non-ergonomic environment. Or setting up a dedicated workspace at home.

And oh, add helping kids with their online classes. Kids interrupting meetings is hardly a bother these days. Is it?

For some, it also meant developing a newfound interest, while facing less of a sneaky boss peeking over their shoulders yelling about unfinished tasks and impending deadlines. Now, you don’t have to ask for permission if you log in to work a bit late after a 10k run or because you were in a workout mood and stayed longer in the gym one morning. You know you’ll put in more than 8 hours anyway. Also, caring for elders, young kids, and new mothers staying at home became a possibility at this time.

Employees working from home are pressured to work their ass off to prove their might, lest they be shown the door in the next quarterly appraisal. Top corporations agree that working from home is working for them because of nearly 35% reduced distractions and lesser people calling in sick, according to a study. Remote working is also helping businesses save millions of dollars in infrastructure and real estate.

Top corporates approve WFH during the pandemic says research stats.

Gartner, a leading research company, reported that at least 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely for some time. More than half of them(47%) stressed that they intend to enable employees to work from home full-time. According to a study by Global workplace analytics, 68% of nearly 3000 people in a survey say working from home is a success for them. Also, around 70% of managers also are happy with the productivity of employees work from home.

Leading remote work platform Flexjobs listed 27 top companies that allow temporary or full-time WFH. Twitter, FB, Microsoft, Google, Infosys, Adobe, and several fortune 500s lead the way in okaying permanent work from home. The annual state of remote work by owl labs said in its 2020 report that 70% of full-time employed people are working from home, and nearly 77% would be happy to continue this way. People are saving almost $500 each month working from home.

COVID-19 Impacted Businesses

Among developed economies, the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio is projected to rise from 3.3% in 2019 to 14.4% in 2020; the ratio for the United States is projected to rise from 6.3% to 18.7%, respectively, the highest ratio for any country or region, as per a detailed report by the Federation of American Scientists(FAS).

Among developed economies, the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio is projected to rise from 3.3% in 2019 to 14.4% in 2020; the ratio for the United States is projected to rise from 6.3% to 18.7%, respectively, the highest ratio for any country or region.

Unfortunately, some businesses that run exclusively on manpower have taken a hit, like front desk executives, construction workers, school, college, university staff, millions of small local businesses. But below industries are the worst affected incurring losses to the tunes of billions, and how?

Real Estate

More businesses are going the remote route and closing down physical establishments. Several industries, small and medium enterprises, have shut shop owing to no sales.

People have moved back to their hometowns, leaving gaping vacant office and commercial spaces, which were once brimming full. In the home construction zone, builders are now including specific work areas in their new plans, as remote work is likely to continue for the next few years.

NY Times recently reported the market value of commercial properties in New York that include office buildings plunged nearly 16 percent, triggering a sharp decline in tax revenue that pays for essential city services.

Another real estate survey predicts and hopes that 51% of tech company employees will return to work in September 2021, while 50% of employees in the finance and insurance sectors will return to work by July 2021, so the commercial real estate sector can limp back to support itself a bit.

Textiles

No parties, no weddings, no going to work, and of course significant job cuts, the apparel industry was taken by an unpleasant shock and bore the losses of billions of dollars. A massive fall in consumer demand led to factory closures and an imbalance in the supplier-demand cycle. According to International Labour Organization (ILO) research, imports to the USA and EU were reduced by 40% and 32 % from Bangladesh and India. Similar reductions in imports from Vietnam, China, and Indonesia also led to massive worker layoffs.

Nearly 357k people in Bangladesh alone were rendered jobless, according to a recent report about “State of Readymade Garment Enterprises”. The textiles and apparel economy saw a global dip, as governments enforced closedown of non-essential workplaces, which included Asia’s garment factories where 86% of the world’s garment factories exist.

More than 40 apparel manufacturers on the likes of JCPenney, JCrew in the USA have filed for bankruptcy. Some factories managed to survive with half the labor force or wage cuts. Not to mention thousands of other smaller textile manufacturers who disappeared without any trace.

The textiles and apparel economy saw a global dip, as governments enforced closedown of non-essential workplaces, which included Asia’s garment factories where 86% of the world’s garment factories exist.

Travel, Hospitality, and Airlines

The world’s travel industry is obviously the worst affected because of the travel ban on major tourist attractions worldwide. This directly impacted the airline industry, and God knows how many of the getaways we all have canceled. While the US alone puts the loss of revenue due to travel bans to $910 billion, which is seven times 9/11. While another reliable source puts global tourism losses at $1.3 trillion due to COVID-19. The IATA(Internation Air Travel Association), representing some 290 airlines or 82% of total air traffic, said, — A net loss of $38.7 billion is expected in 2021 (deeper than the $15.8 billion forecasts in June 2020).

“This crisis is devastating and unrelenting. Airlines have cut costs by 45.8%, but revenues are down 60.9%. The result is that airlines will lose $66 for every passenger carried this year for a total net loss of $118.5 billion. We need to get borders safely re-opened without quarantine so that people will fly again.,” — Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

With quarantine being the norm and the mandatory no-infection certificate needed in both places, travelers are highly hassled and hence discouraged from flying.

Forbes also predicted that one US airline will file for bankruptcy, orders for new airplanes might get canceled, there could also be a merger of two or more airline businesses.

And not to forget the multi-million dollar losses the amusement parks, museums, tourist places, destination hotels, and local transport in all major cities worldwide. Is it even possible to put a number to these? So many lives shut down.

Health and Fitness Industry

People forced to stay safe at home had all the reasons to stop working out in 2020. Hundreds of gyms and fitness boutiques were closed, and only a few can recover and start back.

However, e-commerce sales of fitness equipment jumped 55% in five days ending March 15th, 2020 compared to sales earlier in the month, according to data from Adobe Analytics. The gymming equipment sales even bet the Christmas and Newyear shopping that year says one report.

Since many people have invested in some kind of fitness equipment to keep fit during the lockdown, market trends say many such people will think again before returning to the gym. Online yoga, pilates, workout videos, exercising Apps sprung up like wild mushrooms globally.

For instance, Classpass, a fitness studio with a Unicorn status, partners with local fitness boutiques, started live streaming video workouts to promote virtual fitness classes.

Beauty Salons, Massage Parlors, and Tattoo Studios

Almost everyone cut their hair at home in 2020 at least once. People are turning to at-home self-care as the risk of infection in beauty parlors, spas, and massage parlors are more pronounced as touch is inevitable in those businesses, says a report. At-home grooming products saw 10–12x more sales in 2020, says another study.

According to Japanese research, you risk infection even by talking with masks-on in spas or salons. This is because, as one speaks or even exhales, particles move down due to gravity on someone seated below getting the treatment.

This got to be history’s most unlike story, anyone has ever seen or heard before. A virus bringing the world economy to its knees. Schools, varsities, private and government businesses shut, travel bans, shopping malls, theatres, restaurants closed intermittently. The art, entertainment, music concerts, sports events called off. Several countries are done with a second wave; mutations are scarier, and so are the vaccines’ side effects.

The good news is vaccines are working and helping flatten the curve. By the time every country can vaccinate its willing citizens and achieve herd immunity, fight mutations, the end feels so near, yet so far. But we’ll get there. This article is just a minuscule effort to comprehend the effect of the virus on us and the global economy.