What exactly is a culture shift? According to Merriam Webster, a culture change is defined as a “modification of a society through innovation, invention, discovery, or contact with other societies.”
Others define cultural shifts as changes in how we live after encountering new ways of doing things that change our previous beliefs about how something should be done. In other words, when you shift your perspective, you may experience a cultural shift as well. And if we can all take away one positive from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that we are experiencing many cultural shifts that impact how we live today and how life might look in our post-pandemic world.
While much of the past year and a half has been marked by tragedy, turmoil, isolation, and illness, there have also been some beneficial shifts resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Call them side effects or silver linings, but there have been many unexpected cultural shifts that have come from the global pandemic, and while we wouldn’t wish the past year on our worst enemy, we hope some of these shifts last in the long run. From new work-from-home habits to increased family bonding, increased connectivity, and greater appreciation for our health, these are some of the cultural shifts that have occurred as we enter the new normal post-pandemic life.
Flexible Work Schedules and Remote Working are the New Norm
Offices everywhere had to close due to the lockdowns associated with Covid-19. Employees and leaders at all levels of the professional landscape had to learn how to work from home, connect virtually, and be effective remotely.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 71 percent of workers surveyed are doing their job from home all or most of the time, and more than 50 percent say that, if given the choice, they would continue working from home even after the pandemic is over. The virus has caused a major shift in company work habits that were once considered challenging, according to a November 2020 McKinsey report. “The virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past, setting in motion a structural shift in where work takes place, at least for some people.”
Aside from the fact that almost no one wore pants for 12 months, things went pretty well for many people. Companies learned how to thrive and adapted to Zoom conference calls in place of in-person meetings.
Workers achieved more work-life balance. Virtual workshops allowed businesses and employees to access training from anywhere. People acquired new skills and used their time in lockdown to revisit old goals and think big for future plans.
Out of necessity, companies had to be more adaptable and work to solve problems rather than sticking with old patterns that weren’t working.
Working parents were able to balance their schedules and spend more time with their families without suffering in their careers.
Yes, there were many challenges, but there were also many stories of success and resilience. And above all a change, there has been a major shift in how companies think about their office culture and a new focus on progressive work environments and flexible schedules.
At-Home Fitness is Booming
When gyms across the country closed at the beginning of the pandemic, fitness enthusiasts panicked. Soon, Americans would learn just how vital exercise is for our physical health and mental well-being.
Moving our bodies and staying active became a lifeline for people coast to coast, and we all had to shift the ways in which we worked out. At-home fitness classes became a huge success.
From the Peloton at-home bike to online subscription services and Zoom yoga classes, at-home fitness was (and still is) booming. For a while, you could not get a set of free weights even if your life depended on it. And for many people, our sanity certainly did depend on it. The American College of Sports Medicine recently named “online training” its number-one fitness trend for 2021. Sales for at-home equipment are still through the roof, with Peloton sales increasing 141% to $1.26 billion in the 2021 fiscal year third quarter. Their fitness subscriptions jumped 135% to 2.08 million.
People are Connecting Better with Friends and Family Near and Far
Because no one was allowed to physically be together for so long, families, friends, and colleagues learned how to connect virtually through FaceTime calls, Zoom chats, video messages, and even through online gaming. All of these newfound ways of staying in touch were hard in many ways (nothing replaces a hug), but in other ways, they were a major bonus — people could connect and reconnect with loved ones no matter how close or far apart we were. Suddenly family members and old friends who lived on opposite coasts spent as much quality time “together” as neighbors who lived five steps away. Loved ones finding new ways to bond and keep in touch will always be a positive cultural shift.
Hollywood at Home
With movie theaters closed, Broadway shut down, and concerts canceled, theater executives, production companies, and performers had to develop other ways to release their blockbuster hits and entertain audiences in their own homes.
The result is must-see films and live music available at the click of a button from your couch. While we miss concerts and seeing live shows more than we can say, it’s pretty nice to eat popcorn and see the latest award-winning film in bed with no lines and no crowds.
For production companies, it seems to be going well, too — when Hamilton was released on Disney Plus in July of 2020, Disney Plus subscriptions increased by 74 percent in a single weekend.
Greater Appreciation for Our Health
Masks may have been controversial, and social distancing was tough at times. Still, one happy side effect of the global pandemic is that everyone not only learned to avoid germs and prevent disease, but we also developed an appreciation for good health and longevity.
We learned just how crucial it is to be in good health and take care of our bodies, and we stopped taking for granted the little things, like the ability to take a deep breath and fight off illness. We developed a deep and lasting respect for healthcare professionals and frontline workers who risked everything to care for us in our time of need.