COVID-19 Restructuring

A “shared air” virus has emerged that has entered into the public collective conscious. Fact. While few large-scale long-term changes have yet been solidified, a restructuring began in March. Just assuming some knee-jerk change remains and becomes permanent, long-term change has already occurred. If attitudes persist, the stage is set for widespread adjustment in individual decision making. What loses and what wins? To close the post on a positive note, the winners go second.

Have Lost
  • Skyscrapers. Ventilation retrofit is expensive at best. Lower density is less money. They face the challenge of convincing their tenants of their safety with respect to the shared air environment. Even if real science can determine a building is perfectly safe, the challenge remains against the alternative of guaranteed safety (work from home). Skyscrapers rely on high-density. High-density indoors has taken a direct hit globally.
  • Commercial real estate, especially office space. The work-from-home gradual movement became a revolution overnight. No longer is the worker tentatively requesting the employer to work from home. Now the employer is maybe asking the employee to return to work. Even the employer may be happier transferring the office costs to the employee. Neither is strongly incentivized to continue paying rent.
  • Commercial real estate, retail. The online buying gradual movement became a revolution overnight.
  • Urban residential real estate. People don’t go to offices and big retail malls, then people don’t have a reason to live near them. Urban landlords are searching for tenants. Tenants are asking for month-to-month.
  • Some travel. Hotels, cruises, casinos – tourism economies.
  • Airlines. Business travel, the bulk of their business, is near zero. However, airlines are more prepared for this than most people realize. Aircraft cabins, partially due to physical requirement to maintain positive pressure gradient, are very well ventilated. This video explains very well: https://www.pall.com/en/aerospace/commercial-fixed-wing/how-cabin-air-systems-work.html
  • Indoor sports arenas. Is the indoor ventilation and large space as good as being outside? Time will tell. Studies will be conducted. The people must be convinced.
  • Science and “science.” Trust and credibility of leadership is the real loser here. There has been a glut of misinformation hastily disseminated, labeled as science, but much of the information deserves the title “science.” Those who care are now more skeptical than ever and in many cases still confused by the conflicting information. Those who follow science and “science” equally are just confused. We all lose when trust is lost.
  • Public Schools. Public schools maintained a minimum education standard and integrated a wide range of people within a community from a young age. They educated and indoctrinated good citizens. They are a staple of America. Their value has historically been:
    1. Access to curriculum
    2. Paid professional teachers
    3. A disciplined environment conducive to education
    4. Collective agreement – all the other kids in town go to public school.
    5. Sports
    6. Reliability
    1. The internet has removed public schools’ information advantage making curriculum universally available to anyone who downloads it. The internet spoils the classroom in the form of distracting smartphones.
    2. With the virus, schools have to convince teachers to return to work.
    3. The virus impacts discipline by introducing multiple standards for multiple approaches to the virus.
    4. The virus forces parents and adolescents to collectively reconsider the value of school all at the same time.
    5. Sports outside school have been rising for decades as competitive parents look to give their kids an edge. Independent sports leagues now offer parents a like-minded group of peers around which to organize independent education.
    6. Public schools are not opening in many places. How much worse can it get than the school self-identifying as not essential?
The Winners
  • Sailing. naturally ventilated, the frontier of the ocean looks more attractive with the land inhabited by “sick” humans wearing masks and avoiding each other.
  • Rural high-speed internet providers. Many rich work-from-homers will require fast internet in rural places. An internet-enabled ruralization has already begun.
  • Suburbia. City dwellers will not move to farms and ranches in the middle of nowhere. They will move to the first place with a house big enough for a home office that has a yard.
  • Architects. New buildings will pay more for design. Many old buildings may retrofit better ventilation. Money will be spent on building design. Building design is front and center for public health, no longer for just aesthetics.
  • HVAC. So far HVAC companies are making more money just changing filters, selling expensive germicide filters, and general attention to ventilation. Long-term they may have to come up with proven solutions. Money will be spent on ventilation, HVAC.
  • Jaywalking and other minor rule-breaking. The information dissemination by media and rule-making by the government has been so poor that people who would otherwise follow just about any rule now feel empowered to “blow them off.”
  • Street parties. Combine minor rule-breaking with a virus that primarily spreads indoors and people are finally drinking on sidewalks.
  • Speakeasies. Let’s be real. People are going to gather. This isn’t the first time the bars have been closed. This time we don’t even have to make our own booze. Let’s just hope for good ventilation.
  • Street vendors. Eat outside. Low overhead when the weather is bad.
  • Camping and RV-ing. People wanna get away! RV’s are on wait lists.
  • Chick sales. People are raising their own chickens.
  • Awnings and umbrellas. Bars and restaurants are creating as much outdoor space as possible.
  • Skylights. Let in that sanitizing UV sunlight!
  • Garage doors, especially well-insulated glass garage doors (very expensive). Bars and gyms are more viable if they can ventilate well and people feel like they are outdoors.
  • Fans. Ventilation, not enclosed air conditioning.
  • Golf. Golf courses are winning. Just ask them. You might even say golf courses are taking a piece of the office space pie!
  • Outdoor sports attendance, including minor league baseball. Hot take! I am calling it a winner. I believe people will remain skeptical of the indoors and transfer sports watching to in-person live sports. People will prefer to go to a big local stadium outdoors than crowd into a bar or stay at home to watch TV.
  • Bicycles and electric-assist bicycles “e-bikes.” With people avoiding public transit, bicycles are the outdoor way to get around. E-bikes make it even more viable long-distance.
  • Bike lanes. With more people in bike lanes, more people vote for funds for bike lanes.
  • State government power. The federal government quickly passed off decisions to the states. Governors immediately took the power and dictated. Local governments could be winners, but with many schools still shut down, local governments are missing a key component of their authority.
  • County Sheriffs. In the wake of knee-jerk outlandish dictation from on high, sheriffs became legislators overnight, deciding in many cases what would and would not be enforced.
  • Private Schools. Parents are recognizing the need to take responsibility for their children’s education. The first option by those who are willing to pay for it is private schools.
  • Trade Schools. As parents and adolescents are forced to reconsider the value of public school curriculum that has long ignored practical trade education, those willing to educate themselves, show up on time, and work for a living will quit school, stay out of debt, learn a trade, and prosper.
  • Home schooling. Many educated people already considered home schooling. Public schools are flaky at best through the pandemic. There will be more home schooling. I am not talking about isolated families holding classroom-for-two in the dining room. I am talking about parents taking responsibility and coordinating with other parents to educate their children. This is with neighbors, sports teams, classmates.
  • Video games. Sad but true. To some people, this is an opportunity to veg.
  • Home improvement. People are home. They look at their homes and make them better. Home Depot and Lowe’s sales are through the roof.
  • Pools. Sales for home pools are through the roof.
  • Local production: to the extent that trade is disrupted, local production may have a void to fill.
  • Corporate bankruptcy lawyers. Restructuring means some failures. Bankruptcy is restructure through failure.
  • Government social programs. Let’s be real, many handouts will remain and become permanent.
  • Gun sales. Gun and ammo sales are up.
  • Biotech. Money will be thrown at this. Fact.
Pent-Up Demand
  • Change management consulting. Businesses are restructuring. Currently the change is being done on-the-fly. Change management consultants are studying that change and preparing to help businesses navigate the change long-term. They will be hired once the dust settles and budgets return.
  • Personal bankruptcy lawyers. Those who will go bankrupt also spend their stimulus checks quickly. Once the government hand-outs run out, their newly improved lifestyles will turn to bankruptcy just as quickly.
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27 July 2020: https://www.politico.eu/article/the-death-of-the-city-coronavirus-towns-cities-retail-transport-pollution-economic-crisis/

My Personal Adjustment

As a student entering a Master’s in Engineering: Energy, I am reconsidering my class selections within the program and leaning more toward building design classes and efficiency (to include air flow) than I was before. I have begun following architects as potential employers.