Staying Connected While Social Distancing

Published 05/05/2020

The official longest day of the year (June 20) has nothing on how long the days have felt over the past few weeks. After most states issued shelter-in-place orders because of the coronavirus, people all over the country were compelled to bake bread — banana and otherwise — and check the strength of their internet connection as they rushed to modify their daily routines. With each surreal trip to the grocery store and the umpteenth delivery from Amazon Prime, we find ourselves contemplating when it will be possible to return to our regular schedules.

In recent years, there had been a general movement against social technologies in favor of more real-life connections. Now those same technology tools are acting as social connectors in this new period of social distancing.

With the need to move to remote environments, businesses and schools were called upon to swiftly transition to an online world. Team meetings and taking attendance transitioned to entirely virtual and making sure that the room in plain view behind us was camera-ready became a critical issue. The following exhibit illustrates how technology tools are serving to keep employees and students connected through online meetings and virtual classrooms. 


Coronavirus has also changed what we are watching from an entertainment perspective, including the sudden absence of sports in a year when baseball failed to start and the NBA suspended its 2019–2020 season. With assurances from Netflix that it will not run out of new content along with the launch of new content options such as HBO Max, there are plenty of television shows and movies to keep us distracted.

But nighttime is no longer the main time to tune in for many people. This trend is likely driven by some combination of furlough and parents working from home attempting to entertain children also home all day well before summer vacation. The following exhibit offers a glimpse of when we are streaming media as an outlet to unwind.


No matter how adept we become at managing our new routines, it is not easy to reconcile where we were two months ago with where we are today. However, if we view our current circumstances not as the new normal but as a temporary situation, we may find equilibrium.

 A lot of us feel ready to return to work, attend school and visit family and friends. However, we are reminded that we do not have an all-clear yet. Investors often experience similar conflicted emotions, especially in times of crisis, when staying on course involves not taking action.

Evidence can help us understand the effect of our actions today. It shows both the positive effects of social distancing on lowering the growth of number of coronavirus cases in larger metropolitan areas but also the incredible economic toll those policies have created. At Forum, we do not purport to have a grand answer regarding the eventual turning point of the health crisis or the reopening of the economy.

As financial advisors, we are there to support our clients in every way we can, and that means helping them make wise financial decisions (both personal and business-related) that keep them on course to accomplish their long-term goals. We will continue to stay connected with our clients —whether by Zoom video conferencing, email or phone — through this period and beyond. Please contact us if we can help you plan during these extraordinary times.


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NOTE: In late April, it was widely reported that one baked good had risen above the rest based on recent search trends. According to Google Trends, “the most-searched recipe in all US states in the last 30 days” was for banana bread.



Sources

Ella Koeze and Nathaniel Popper, “The Virus Changed the Way We Internet.” The New York Times, April 7, 2020.

Lucas Shaw, “How Coronavirus Changed the Way We Watch, Listen and Play.” Bloomberg, April 14, 2020. 


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