M1_ Anno Coronaviridae - After Covid

4/7/202014 min read

We are not welcomed into the future so much as we are forced into it. Since conception, we have been forced into the future. As we realize our mortality and approach death we pretend to have had options and control. The pandemic is quickly eroding our illusion of control thus showing us that we never had the entire deck on the table but only a handful of cards, face-up, for everyone to see. In vain, we tried to disguise them. The cards never quite make the hand you would like but you stay at the table because everyone else does, hoping for a chance to win. Aside from mortality, what has corona shown us? We are not in control of everything. Our environment is dirty, always has been. Inside the home is no more clean than outside it. We commute on top of strangers in order to work beside strangers. We treat our teachers as babysitters, schools as daycare, and offices as temples. The reality is that our home is our temple. Our teachers are saints. The search for knowledge is daycare.

Inside and outside could both use a cleaning. The commute is the most degrading and worthless part of the contemporary day and evening.

“And I saw no temple in the city” Revelation 21:22

In our homes, we strive to make ourselves comfortable in our own skin. If we are lucky enough, we decorate from the floors to the ceilings with items that bring joy and inspiration. Items that remind us of past times that keep us focused on the present that we are forever heading towards. We are forever fine-tuning the home. Adding accents inside and out. The real estate term ‘curb appeal’ summons images of manicured lawns, lit pathways, and oversized driveways, leading to your mid-century bungalow, McMansion, or elevator doorman condo building.

We leave our homes in search of wealth, connections, knowledge, and comforts. Packed in subways, cars bumper to bumper on freeways, buses loaded with our children and sidewalks bursting with people. All with a unique mission though many share the same title.

When we have had enough of the outside world we retreat back into our homes, retreading those same worn paths, with the remains of our daily trek. The results being the remaining wealth if any, gained minus commute, food intake, and costs of doing business all lingering in our heads to the replay of the conversations and interactions, the inspirations from environments and people passed throughout the day and cacophony heard from passing cars or the enticing displays of the storefronts.

A student internally recites the teacher’s lesson just as the graduate sips with colleagues at a happy hour. Both have the same final destination though the location is different. Welcome home. “Here the temple was not removed but expanded....but nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false…” Revelation 21:27 The day resonates with each of us individually the same way we worship our temples - Individually.

As soon as we come home and decompress we quickly cherry-pick the day's highlights for our mental replay simultaneously as we replay the highlights our bodies replay the lowlights. The stress of the commute; the school bully; the unwanted advances & comments of a co-worker or stranger as she/he heads to work. The c-suite boss that reminds you that you are expendable and that the c-suite is not for you, billboards and mannequins remind us that we are not it. A parent that couldn’t help with their child's homework even if they had the time is a daily reminder that we studied the wrong subjects and excelled at none.

We have evolved from the hunter-gatherer to the influenced-customizer. We can be inspired from the armchair. Worlds and goods from afar brought to our lap on demand without a moment's notice. Goods dropped at the door whose journeys are now commonly tracked like a would-be hunted meal was centuries ago. Conversely, today’s trail tracked deliverable comes with a guarantee and return policy. The detestable and false are known after sampling and kindly (not always) dispatched from our doors. The unclean is not so easy to determine. We are unbalanced in our ways to identify the unclean as we can for influenced inspirations. We have yet to be influenced to cast out the unclean. In the process of the daily commute we dirty the world almost from the moment we leave our homes and continue throughout the day until our return. Selfishly dirtying the world and each other for no apparent reason other than to acquire short-term funds to foot the bill for short-term fun and comforts. Nowadays, it is almost completely unnecessary to venture far from home on a daily basis other than for work, food, and medical reasons. Leaving the safety of our home invites calculations of the previously unknown and unplanned; variables that undoubtedly threaten our return. If we do manage to mitigate or survive the daily threats, we return not only with the daily spoils but also the daily dirty. Warm shoes checked at the door so not to invite the sole of the day inside. The stained white collar of a dress shirt seen as we change into something more comfortable reveals the traces of dirt and pollution in our air. These obvious gestures, done in order to maintain the cleanliness of the home, produce a false sense of security. They are in vain. What you can’t sense, you can’t fight. Technology helped us expand the temple but it has not helped us keep the unclean from entering it. If anything it has helped us welcome the unclean with open arms. Packages and goods enter the home covered in dirt the eyes cannot see. Handled by even more strangers and delivered on routes as foreign as its origins. Almost as if the filth is eclipsed by convenience.

What the shadows hide it does not neutralize. As I write this the “...darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” 1 John 2:8 The only things that die in the dark are democracy and flowers. We are finally going to enter the future that we were promised as children.

Fight Club’s Tyler Durden is not far from reality in his vision where:

“you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty carpool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”

Damond John issued a warning for retail on TMZ Live of all places:

“This is going to be devastating for retail stores and especially for those in the middle [market] aspect of the business. You have your Louis Vitton and people are always going to want that experience and maybe you will have your mass (retailers).. but it's always the middle that is going to be compressed… because the people that go for luxury goods and maybe they’ll go shopping for everything when they want to go get their food and everything else, however, middle is going to get compressed and a lot of people are going to fall by the wayside. If they don’t make retail more like a pop-up store where it’s an activation, there is actually no reason to go there anymore...you're going to have a lot more condominiums and places to live. Aren’t you asking yourself the same question? How can a regular person live in Manhattan when it's a million dollars just to get a small little one-and-a-half-bedroom? Now, the price is going to be compressed and then you’re gonna have more real estate open. Because, you know, I think there is going to be a correction of the market and people are going to start using that [space] for places for people to live. I think [companies] are going to have to have a smaller imprint in real estate and renegotiate the leases that they had that were killing them in the first place that made those goods so expensive. I think that you will have private shoppers, and that [you’re] going to be home and they're gonna be on zoom or one of the other platforms privately shopping for you. I think there are ways for them to adjust but they have to start doing it sooner than later because they just thought somehow things were going to get better when it's only going to get better for those who can touch their consumer directly and not have to worry about them walking across the store.”

The future lies somewhere in between Tyler and Daymond’s world.

Prior to Corona, the biggest threat to commercial real estate were other larger retail stores. Not online sales as many would like to blame. Post Corona, the biggest threat to retail will be our anxiety of going outside and a new world shaped by a reduced need to. The sale and product must literally be “to die for”. To get people to leave their homes (temples), everything must be done to calm that anxiety. People did not flock to the skies after 911 until we had air marshals. We need the equivalent in our commercial, retail and common spaces. Gone are the days of walking into store after store and touching everything as we did so casually even a few months ago. Gone are the days of measuring the man by the firmness of the handshake. Gone are the days of sending our children off with strangers to be cared for by strangers. The silver linings of stay-at-home will become welcome fixtures. Here are days of fewer touches with more meaning. Here are the days of measuring the man and the woman by the cleanliness of their code. Here to the days of work-life balance. Mother nature regains her voice as the dolphins and clear water return to the canals of Italy. Deer reclaim the cobles of London without fear of the introduction of a double-decker bus. School children, in non-war zones, will learn at home without the threat of a hail of gunfire. Spending time in the comfort and security of one's home with your family, less traffic, cleaner air, cheaper energy, we will begin to welcome the silver linings of Corona one-by-one. Entire industries will be born out of this pandemic in order to prevent future ones.

The same technology that we will use to provide an in-depth-in-home learning experience for our children will be the same tools that we use to virtually shop and experience goods before delivery. Children used to fight parents for the iPad. Now parents will be fighting their kids for the VR headset & space to virtually walk the aisles of a Macy’s that no longer exists if not only for warehousing. A celebrity chef just as well as a local favorite can guide you through preparing a meal with your tabletop hologram using the goods that were delivered earlier that day with the wave of a hand or prompted by your dreaming aloud as you paced your kitchen that same morning. Perhaps they might even pull-up to your window/curbside as we saw in The Fifth Element when Korben Dallas trades philosophy for lunch from a chef serving Chinese from a hovering food cart.

My predictions - Clean 2.0

All low-tech contact surfaces will be made of copper or coated with a thin layer of copper microns or a similar antimicrobial plating. Entrances and internal doors of newly constructed spaces will have to open without human touch. In addition, positive pressure systems will be installed in even the smallest of venues that wish to welcome members of the public. The same blast of air you feel when you enter a hospital or doctor’s office will greet you as you enter all contained public spaces. In addition, these spaces will be fitted with UVC (ultraviolet C-wave light) systems to further clean these spaces after closing, much like some hospitals are using to disinfect rooms, preventing infections due to superbugs. We might even see large-scale use of ultrasonic technology to help sanitize objects and people as we enter more crowded areas.

Building code, especially in dense cities, will be updated to require these new systems for new and existing structures. No public space new or old will be allowed to operate without the new requirements. Retrofitting existing businesses and public spaces will become a huge business. Many of these luxuries will find their way into everyone’s homes as consumers will be provided government subsidies to afford installation. Homebuilders will receive tax benefits and coupons to install the new systems. Residential systems will be available online and in big-box retailers, providing another reason to leave the house. These big-box retailers will be some of the most sanitary spaces on the planet. They will boast of being about to conduct a major surgery in an aisle moments after closing. All packaging and containers from your purchased items whether in person or delivered will be recycled because of added anti-microbial content. We will live in increasingly clean environments aided by a new system that works with already existing smart devices. BYOD (or bring your own device). The costs to operate the majority of our businesses after covid will be too great vs the product that is sold. The economics are not in favor of past practices. Large offices will be one of those things that we look back on and can’t believe we subjected people to. Remote work is becoming the new norm. It will be cheaper for companies and the government to subsidize a second or third room for a home office rather than to provide serious medical treatment and aid to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people a year due to the next pandemic. Corporate units might meet in person weekly or bi-weekly in groups to discuss the trajectory of their work. Maybe even for team building or networking events but never again on a daily basis. No salary is worth dying a solitary, degrading death for. A good lawyer could make the argument that to work a traditional 40-hour workweek in an office building should require hazard pay. Corporations will focus more on productivity, health, and emotional wellbeing. Most grocery shopping could be done from home. Grocery stores as we know them will resemble large sanitary warehouses where humans alongside robotic assistants will fill orders 23 hours a day, pausing only to sanitize. Frozen ready-made meals and meal kits will become far more commonplace therefore disrupting the traditional supply chain that mom & pop grew up in and served. Dining out will be one of life’s few remaining luxuries though it will be increasingly too expensive for most of America. The cost of running a restaurant as a hospital will be too great. The restaurants of the future will either be huge sanitary cafeteria-like settings or small surgical-like theaters. Both will occupy opposite ends of the economic spectrum and will reflect one's wages and status like nothing we’ve seen since the Jazz age. Price-wise, staffed restaurants will be the most out of reach. Most people that dine out will not be served by a single human but a MC of sorts that will conduct a line of patrons to empty seats soon after they have been sanitized by a team of cleaners in tandem with robotic help.

For those on-demand cravings, nevermind the drive-thru, ghost kitchens will be fixtures translating to 21st-century fast food as car culture fades with the necessity for lengthy daily commutes. We will see a rise in locations to imbibe. If only because a universal basic income must be recaptured by the government through tax in addition to requiring less sanitation structure and staff, robotic and human, than a location serving food as well as drink. These locations will become a combination of a bar, coffee house, meeting place, and working space. The majority will be self-serve through orders being filled on your device. In addition to ordering beverages, you can order a sanitary meeting room or booth on demand for the duration of your stay. Gyms will be nearly unrecognizable and will resemble hospitals. The gyms of today are just as filthy as office buildings and are host to microbes that are waiting for the chance to mutate, becoming the stars of the next pandemic. Since humans cannot be relied upon to efficiently clean up after themselves, the workout will be conducted in individual booths large enough for a single person and a complimentary virtual personal trainer or a live personal trainer. These self-contained booths will be automatically cleaned after each use.

Your entire body will be monitored by sensors and your own personal device, relaying the data to your insurance provider under the nation's universal healthcare system. Your health will be tied to your universal basic income and taxes.

Schools, as we have known them for the past 100 years, will no longer exist. Teachers will now be virtual tutors that students will check in with just as their parents do at work in addition to specialized tutors for STEM, music, and the arts. Lesson plans and tests will be standardized and taught in-home. This will be the second largest industry to rise from the pandemic. Schools, as filthy as office buildings, they’re not safe from superbugs or violence. We will notice a sharp decline in mass shootings over the next few months, as well as no negative effect on a child's ability to learn from home. In fact, we will see scores rise over the next few years alongside the confidence of the student. Studying at home will protect them from the bullying during the day and that risk-laden time between the last bell and the return home that is most vulnerable for all school children.

The current education system is not scalable or efficient. It is not designed to fluctuate with changing demographics for as long as the walls and blacktops could remain in use. No more crowded classrooms or underutilized special programs. These locations could be better suited for flexible community gathering spaces for concerts, theater, farmers markets, maker markets, etc.

Healthcare facilities will look like Star Trek. There will not be a single non-antimicrobial surface in the facility. Everything will be automated so that the healthcare professionals, as well as the patients, will never have to touch a thing. The risk of healthcare-associated infection is already high and without serious preventative measures, people will die of a staph infection because they came to the ER for a home kitchen accident. In addition to the hyper sanitary conditions, in-home healthcare will become the largest industry to rise from the ashes of this pandemic. The ability to diagnose a patient through video using a combination of voice and sensors from already existing devices will prove to be as thorough, if not more so than, an in-person visit to a GP or specialized healthcare professional. Doctors no longer need to practice from an office on a daily basis. The rise of universal health care will prompt more electronic visits to the doctor than the current system could handle as it is. Through the use of technology, licensed healthcare professionals from all 50 states will serve patients in all 50 states.

Shopping for clothes will increasingly be done via bespoke boxes and online however the demand for fashionable items will be eclipsed by smart-athleisure-wear because there will be less need to travel from the home which equates to less need for circumstantial clothing. Video conferencing calls will be aided with clothing filters so you could be pontificating in a comfortable white t-shirt and appear in a perfectly fit french cuff dress shirt. It will be a welcome solution to having two sets of clothing; one for the office and one for nights and weekends. In addition, the fashion industry being one of the world’s greatest contributors to pollution will reduce its carbon footprint. If someone must still shop in-person, retail will only exist in three forms. pop-up, big-box, and luxury. Everything else can be had and fitted online. Virtual assistants could aid with either, including same-day delivery, adding a premium to the most common staples. Previously, a service only the upper-middle-class and wealthy could afford. Big-box retailers may continue house pop-ups much like Target has for nearly a decade now. They are the only retailers that could afford to adhere to the new clean 2.0 standards combining technology to help virtual assistants shop in live-time with their clients.

Lastly, beautifications. The salons and barbers of tomorrow will be a close relative of their former selves. Most cities require a license to cut hair and paint nails. Face masks and the appearance of clean hygiene conscious salons fetch a premium. These will become more commonplace everywhere but the days of 3 salons and or barbers on the same street are over. The licenses and the infrastructure will force many to close. House visits for a haircut, styling and nails will be the new norm. The ability to enhance the cleanliness of the room in order to provide an in-home service will be considered normal and will not fetch a premium as self sterilization skills will be ubiquitous in the future as the sale of to-go kits will be available online. You may even have your own set that will be used during house visits. There will be many barbers, stylists, and nail technicians in the near future making house calls from morning to night.

This, then, is the future as I see it. A return to the home as the center of your universe, domum centric life. And with this return we will see all people sheltered in tandem with basic human rights as well as healthcare, universal income, fair and local trade, and dignified employment. With the work that is needed for life after covid, there is no reason that as a nation we cannot provide all the above.

So in conclusion, as counter-intuitive as it seems, Coronavirus is going to be the best thing for residential real estate in decades; possibly in all of US history.

I suspect we will see massive government support for homeowners and renters. Conversely, this will be the worst event for commercial real Estate in US history. The already empty storefronts will have to find new purposes for there is no hope for their continued use as a retail space resembling their prior use if any. Clever rezoning must allow them to be used as housing if the use case cannot be made for any of the aforementioned industries.