Bay Area futurist's vision for next 10 years post-pandemic does not include a 'return to normal'

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- During the coronavirus pandemic, how many times have we expressed a desire for life to return to normal? Futurists say that's not going to happen, especially with changes that already are posing new challenges.

Marina Gorbis, executive director of Palo Alto's Institute for the Future, focused on four key areas.

Health Care


"Our public health care system is not in good shape," she said. "In terms of public health, it seems like in view of these pandemics we need to act as a union, not as a collection of independent states."

That's because we travel. We socialize. Viruses don't know boundaries. Political division will make that challenging to address. National leadership will be needed.

There's also a growing need for caregivers as the population ages.

Mental Health


"We need to recognize that the kids have been through a trauma," said Gorbis. "Their parents have been through a trauma. We all have been through some form of a trauma."

More mental health services will be needed to deal with pandemic setbacks as well as global turmoil.

Globalization


"We're going to enter a period of kind of re-globalization, which is kind of bringing rethinking and reinventing what we globalize and what we keep local," she said.

Shortages of goods caused by supply chain disruptions provided a wake-up call about dependence on overseas manufacturing.

Worker Power


"I think that the power is shifting to the employees," Gorbis said.

Workers have become more selective and more demanding in a tight labor market.

"We do have increasing power of employees to choose where they work and how they work and organize and really advocate for better conditions."

This could transform how companies manage and balance what's best for shareholders and employees.

The Next 10 Years


So the next 10 years could lead to significant changes.

"We think that the choices and decisions we make in the next 10 years will impact people long-term based on the critical decisions that we need to make."

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