Johns Hopkins Business Professor on the Lasting Effects of Coronavirus

Author and Johns Hopkins business professor Kathleen Day talks with Yahoo Finance's editor-in-chief Andy Serwer about the long-lasting effects the coronavirus will have on the workforce.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: I'm joined by Kathleen Day, journalist, author, and lecturer at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Kathleen, nice to see you.

KATHLEEN DAY: Nice to see you.

ANDY SERWER: So I want to ask you what you think some of the permanent effects of the coronavirus are on the economy and our society.

KATHLEEN DAY: One thing I think-- well, hopefully-- people will realize how ill-prepared we were economically in terms of supplies and things for a pandemic. Culturally, I think people may begin-- have begun to realize that maybe they don't need to spend as much time in the office face to face. I think that I-- I read a gentleman in Italy, early on in this-- early on. It's two weeks ago. It seems like centuries ago-- two weeks ago, was saying that his company realized that maybe they had been spending too much on real estate. Maybe they didn't need so much office space. I think there's going to be a lot more allowance for people working from home.


One of the things the internet has done has blunted the economic downturn from this. I mean, we're going to have a downturn from this. We might have had one anyway. The virus may make it worse. Probably it will. But I do think that the internet has blunted it. You and I are working. Lots of people are working. My husband gave an argument in court by phone. So things have changed.

I do think people will become much better prepared for using electronics to do their work and make it better. Now, we're using Skype, but there are-- for example-- I keep using my husband-- my husband gave a court argument. The court needs to be-- courts need to be better prepared to handle things like that, have a more sophisticated way for people to give arguments remotely. I think that's one of the big-- I think that's one of the big cultural changes.

ANDY SERWER: On the other hand, I think you said you thought people would go nuts if they just stayed inside and worked from home for the rest of their lives.

KATHLEEN DAY: Yes. Having said that-- yes. Having said that I think this will open people's eyes to the usefulness and utility of commuting by electronics, I do think people miss being around people. People miss going out to restaurants. People will miss interacting with people.

I think there's a balance. People often would love to have a day where they can work from home and not have to go in. But, yet, they have to go in every day. People who only work from home I'm sure miss being around that proverbial water cooler-- I don't know if we use those anymore. We all bring our own water-- but miss interacting with people. It is really nice to interact with people.

And sometimes when you're working from home, you're not interacting except by email. And there's a whole generation of people who don't like to talk on the phone, and I think that's too bad. And sometimes it's also just inefficient. Sometimes it's really nice not to communicate, not to transact business by email or text message. Sometimes you need to pick up the phone and just-- you can get a lot accomplished by simply having a conversation with someone in real time. You get more done in a shorter period. So I think there's a lot of etiquette like that that we-- etiquette may be the wrong word, but a utility etiquette that we can have so that people do have a mechanism for interacting if they spend more time telecommuting.