Pandemic Aftermath: 2022 and beyond

By Steven Weinstein, CEO, Seismic Capital Company

What about that light at the end of the tunnel?

Is the light beckoning you back to your job, to the office, or to other routines?

Is it a beacon shining on things you’d like to change — work, home, relationships, the world?

Is it a spotlight on how bad things were during the pandemic? Or beforehand, that you need to change now that you have a new sense of clarity?

Is it casting a shadow on fears that things aren’t going to get better?

There is no reliable crystal ball to forecast the future, but let’s take some educated guesses about how we have changed, what we are going to change, and what’s going to be changed for us. Let’s look at how we live, how we work and travel, how we are entertained, and how we compartmentalize.

As investors betting on the future, and, as we look toward 2022 and beyond, here are some trends we’re betting on — at work, at school, for fun, where it happens, what we eat, and out in the world.

At Work

Watch for significant employee movement — to new companies and even to new locations. A recent Microsoft survey found that more than 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.

This means employers will have to do more to retain the employees they have and also find ways to attract new ones. The companies that want to make their mark will be clearer about their missions, and they will provide employees with:

  • better work conditions (including career path, work/life balance),
  • better benefits,
  • better pay,
  • hybrid offices and flexible work.

Managers and executives will need to step it up. Keeping a restive workforce happy will require charismatic leadership at all levels. Also:

  • New systems and apps will emerge to maximize the efficacy of in-office time.
  • The workplace will morph beyond corporate facilities — into flex spaces, coffee bars, gathering spots, fitness pods and malls.
  • We’ll be betting on technologies that make movable and remote workspaces more secure and private.
  • Watch for new kinds of motivational messaging to keep workers engaged.
  • Watch for new training mechanisms to teach both hard and soft skills.

We’re looking for the app that replicates the in-person “Hey, have you got a minute?” interaction. That informal, no agenda interaction that drives relationships.

Big Trend: ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) will be everywhere. It’s all about how we work together on the planet, not just about one firm’s profits. Shareholders and customers alike are going to insist on end-to-end accountability from the companies they work with, just as employees are making themselves heard.

The employment shifts mean your career will be about you. You will need to thrive in your current job, while at the same time building your own platform for success. New tools will emerge to aid that.

Prediction I: Slack or Zoom will make a major acquisition to enhance the hybrid model of Work from Anywhere (WFA), connecting in-person to workflow, organization teams and video.

Prediction II: Dressing for Zoom will become a thing. When there’s an occasion to use a virtual background, it will be way more creative than what we’re seeing now.

Prediction III: Something big will happen with NFT’s (non-fungible tokens). There is significant regulatory risk ahead, as the SEC evaluates whether NFT’s (fractional or whole) represent investment securities. Watch for this industry to flip several times over 2022.

At School

Schools around the world had to scramble over the past year to do any teaching at all. The least common denominator was to do something approximating what was done in the classroom. But, for most kids (and even most families), it didn’t work. And that’s true starting with the earliest learners all the way through to colleges and universities.

But what we did see was some glimmers of things that might work, if education hadn’t been trying to move 56 million American school kids online at the same time. These, and those created elsewhere, will continue to advance. What to watch for:

  • Learning pods and hybrid learning will emerge and create new paradigms.
  • Online training, coaching and mentoring will expand greatly.
  • New methods of teaching soft skills will emerge.
  • We’re looking for the training tools that really engage learners, with a strong feedback loop.
  • We’re betting on compression technology that will allow more data to be moved way more efficiently than it is now, meaning even the slowest internet connection will be able to support learners at home.
  • We’re betting on 5G to change whether many people need broadband at home.
  • Parents will be more engaged overall in their children’s education than at any time in the past 50 years, but what will change is the parents’ relationship to work, where 9–5 won’t be a thing for many workers anymore.

There will be a tussle between teachers and parents about who does what when, and who’s in charge of kids’ education. Parents will be able to be more engaged.

College Forecasts:

  • Top 50 schools still will command even higher tuitions, as their diplomas will continue to be a ticket to higher lifetime earnings.
  • Below the top echelon, private Colleges overall will face pricing pressure, especially if community college and possibly state universities become free. Watch for unprecedented industry consolidation.
  • Watch for emergence of new trade and technical schools.
  • Standardized exams will face further scrutiny, and their cost will be challenged.

For Fun

All sports — individual, team, spectator, on-line — will become more closely connected to the internet. The lines between physical sports and e-sports will blur.

Online sports gambling will take hold as a part of conversation and activity with more events becoming available to wager be it traditional sports or esports concepts.

Fitness will become a hybrid between the traditional gyms and exercise studios and home equipment and online training apps and zoom classes.

Hybrid will also be the name of the game for cultural events. The live experience in theaters, arenas and stadiums, concert halls and museums will differ from what will be available online, but both paradigms will receive strong development support.

Remote engagement will be a game-changer for live events in ways we can’t even anticipate just yet.

Eating establishments will boom and now will be catering to in-house service and take-out diners as well, and neither will be a second priority. Malls will become gathering places for events, eating, drinking, work, social interaction and community.

Watch for:

  • Amazing changes in online games and gaming.
  • Connected apps that blur the lines between in-person and on-line. AR and VR will suffer the same fate as 3D glasses before them.
  • More and better cameras, including helmet cams, will increase awareness of risks of playing at a high level. Safety adjustments will follow, but not in 2022.
  • Look out for apps supporting remote interaction among sports players in different locations.
  • In addition to spending more time in front of screens, more and more people will also seek out non-screen activities. Will reading increase as a result? Will reading devices evolve?

Sports and entertainment will seek a bigger footprint in our lives. In the short term, they will win the battle. Is overload approaching?

And so much more betting is coming.

Where It Happens

Office buildings will adapt. The next five years will be difficult for highly leveraged owners.

Tremendous shifts will occur in residential real estate. Now that remote work has been demonstrated to be viable, office workers can live farther from their workplaces. Suburban and exurban town centers will see a resurgence of activity and, for a time, the inner cities will suffer from attrition.

The way people live will also adapt, in favor of smaller and more efficient homes and apartments.

What to watch for:

  • Touchless products will continue to rise in popularity through 2022, even as the pandemic subsides.
  • Average home size will continue to shrink, even as home time increases. The “Smart Home” (however defined) will no longer be seen as a luxury item.
  • New technology and inventiveness in tiny homes and accessory dwelling units, which will begin to tackle the affordable housing crisis.
  • Communities will begin to address homelessness in new and unprecedented ways.
  • Cities will improve their public transit infrastructures over time, to make living in a city more enticing and practical.

The corner office won’t be the place to find the most important players in any business. Look for the person with the best dashboard — and the most access to key data.

Prediction: Microsoft and the FAANGS — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (formerly known as Google) — will go on a buying spree for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence companies, apps and solutions.

What We Eat

The world will realize that there is enough food to feed everyone, if we waste less and produce more efficiently. This will lead to more consumption of plant-based foods, and significant advances are coming to manufactured meat products that replicate the experience of eating meat without the resulting associated health and environmental damage. Watch for:

  • Homegrown fruits and vegetables will abound. Even apartment dwellers will see an upswing of indoor vertical farming and other home-based food-growing technology.
  • Plant-based (not animal-based) food will increase in popularity.
  • Watch for surprising new sources of food.

Bugs are not going to be a staple anytime soon in most people’s diets.

Out In The World

Some technology we’re monitoring, all of which we’ll be looking to make bets on:

  • Laptops and other devices will connect to cellular right out of the box.
  • Way more data will flow within existing infrastructure.
  • President Biden’s rural broadband initiative will result in new service offerings targeting previously unserved areas.
  • Plastic usage will decrease dramatically as new biodegradable materials emerge
  • Solar, wind, geothermal and other non-carbon fuels will become more prevalent, more easily accessible, and cheaper, maybe even profitable for many homeowners. Waste will become fuel.
  • It’ll be easier to be “off the grid” for people to choose to do so.

Prediction: The start-up community will bring transformative tech and innovation to bear. Collected waste collection will be turned into everything from fuel to fertilizer — at competitive rates once scale is reached.

Lastly, What About People?
Oh, And Their Pets?

Obviously, people are at the center of every item I’ve noted above. But the pandemic has highlighted how critical it is for us to connect with each other. Watch for technology that lets us maintain the human connection, even when we’re online.

Virtual will never be the same as in person, but let’s see how close we can get.

Watch for:

  • Lots of weddings — celebrations are sorely needed.
  • Lots of babies. Following a year of lockdown, plus an improving economy, we’re going to see a baby boom that can transform our low population growth without massive immigration.
  • A resurgence of religion. Congregating is one way we build community.
  • An upswell of community service. We know our town and cities need help. We’ll band together in all sorts of ways to make that happen.
  • Our pets won’t ever be as pampered as they were in 2020, but they will be accepted in more places and not just hipster workplaces.
  • Pet monitoring and pet entertainment will become available to ease our — and their — separation anxiety.

The Covid 19? Those 19 pounds so many people now are carrying? Watch for thousands of new fitness trends connecting people, devices, and fun ways to lose that weight. Peloton was just the beginning.

Gen Z’ers will continue to move the needle on social issues: diversity, role models and leadership. And they are not taking the issues they’re concerned about — freedom, responsibility, social justice, homelessness, food insecurity, police reform, breaking stereotypes — sitting down.

Lastly, watch for a resurgence of optimism. It’s already on the rise.



Seismic is an early-stage growth investor committed to identifying, guiding, & nurturing companies seeking to meaningfully disrupt the space in which they work

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Seismic Capital Company

Seismic is an early-stage growth investor committed to identifying, guiding, & nurturing companies seeking to meaningfully disrupt the space in which they work