It might be years, decades, or even centuries before the full impact of the current coronavirus lockdown measures can be properly understood.
One thing’s for sure, however: things aren’t going to return to normal anytime soon!
The events of this year have had a particular effect on the self-employed.
One of the major selling points of this lifestyle was the freedom it granted.
Those who work for themselves don’t have a boss to answer to; they can make the decisions they feel is right, and they’re responsible for the outcome.
Unfortunately, there’s a significant drawback to self-employment that’s particularly acute during times of economic uncertainty – and that’s income security.
The economy is midway through the most sudden and dramatic contraction for centuries – and there are only a few measures in place to protect them.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has provided a colossal package of support for businesses, with the aim of keeping the economy in suspended animation through borrowing.
This extends to self-employed people, who are beginning to receive emails from the exchequer about the support on offer.
What cultural changes might occur?
As well as the economy changing directly, we should also expect to see broader changes in the way we view work and what we get out of it.
Many of us have now been thrust into a vast experiment in working from home.
We might learn from this experience, and decide that much of our job can actually be done remotely.
On the other hand, we might decide that there are some tasks which really require a physical commute, and you really do need to travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street every few weeks.
Another factor to consider is work-life balance.
We’ve all been forced to spend more time with our families than we were previously, and we might come to realise that we value those extra hours spent with the kids more than we value hundreds, or thousands of pounds at the end of every month.
Finally, given that we’ve largely abandoned travel from place to place, levels of pollution, particularly in major urban centres, have plummeted.
Many might take this as a sign that the environmental benefits of a cleaner lifestyle are worth pursuing.
Almost by definition, those who work from home don’t pollute as much as those who travel – and thus working from home might become more attractive to green-conscious professionals.