Predictions for the “new normal” are a dime a dozen. A few weeks ago, they were nothing but hypotheses. Now as states reopen, we’re getting a preview of what the future might look like. But, it’s not yet clear.
Official policy is one thing, it changes instantly. Societal norms and individual tolerances are another, adjusting over time. For example, outdoor dining is available in 44 of 50 states. Only 40% of respondents have patronized a restaurant.
At one point, I described how VCs approach industries affected by COVID. One prevailing question was, “How do we know if this uptick/downturn is permanent? How long does it last?”
Physics gives us the answer.
Force of Friction
(noun) The resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.
(noun) Conflict or animosity caused by a clash of wills, temperaments, or opinions.
COVID created a lot of friction and continues to do so. Look no further than teachers and parents launching school-from-home. It was not a smooth transition.
In physics, the force of friction resists another force pushing against an object:
If the surface is rough or sticky, friction is high. If the object is big and heavy, friction high. When friction is high, there is a lot of resistance to change.
We should look at stickiness and bigness to explain how we reacted to COVID pressures. We can look at them to understand which adaptations and changes are lasting.
Mass: How big?
Bigger things are harder to move. There’s more friction creating resistance.
❕For example: Remote work.
My firm of 11 transitioned quickly. A few of us didn’t come in one day, then the rest stayed home the next.