Behavior Change

As I’ve mentioned a few times here during the pandemic, I’m very interested to see what behavior changes that we adopted during the pandemic will stick when it eases and which will not.

Mask wearing, for example, has been commonplace in Asia for many years but not so in the west. I suspect that will change now. Anytime I don’t feel well and need to go out, I plan to wear a mask as is the practice in many Asian cultures. My guess is the Covid pandemic will make that quite common in most parts of the world now.

Another one is food delivery. Apparently only about 3% of US households used online food delivery services before the pandemic. Many more adopted them during the pandemic. Some will go back to the grocery store in the coming months but many will not. The adoption hurdle has been cleared and online food delivery is now in the mainstream. Full disclosure, USV has a few companies in our portfolio that benefit from this trend.

Another is telehealth. Many of us did one or more doctor appointments over video during the lockdown. For something simple like a prescription refill or a checkin, it worked quite well for me. I don’t plan to stop seeing my doctor in person when I feel it is necessary, but I welcome the option to do it over video when it is not. USV also has a few companies in our portfolio that benefit from this trend.

Maybe the most impactful behavior change that many of us have adopted during the pandemic is working from home. The home part has been challenging for many. But the idea that we can be productive and effective outside of the office is a game changer for many employees and many employers. I suspect most knowledge industries will make material moves toward hybrid models post pandemic.

The next 6-18 months, the time most experts think we will still have material risk from the virus, will be an interesting period to study these behavior changes and get a sense of what will stick and what will not. Now that most parts of the US have reopened but are still being careful, we can watch and learn and possibly get a head start on understanding how all of this will play out in the future.

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