How has COVID-19 brought more things online?
By Ma Ke

With countries around the world gradually resuming office hours, reopening schools and shopping malls, life seems to be heading back to normal again. 

But in China, those who experienced the merits and convenience of an online lifestyle are asking: Could this be the new normal? 

Online conference applications have changed the ways people understand working hours.  

App developer Team Viewer sent out questionnaires to employees from 300 companies in tier one Chinese cities. Half of them hope the online lifestyle can continue.  

Many of those surveyed say that holding meetings online is more efficient because there's no need to book a time and venue suitable for everyone.  

Home working is particularly welcomed by programmers and other occupations with flexible hours, who find a familiar environment helpful during stressful work. 

Work apps like Zoom, WeChat Work, Tencent Meeting have acquired strong user bases during the pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted online education. /VCG

The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted online education. /VCG

The pandemic has also boosted online education.

With exam season approaching, anxiety is spreading among students who are still stranded at home, especially middle- and high-school seniors.

School teachers have learnt to use online chatting apps to hold online classes and give out assignments. But they can't be online 24/7. So when students come across a difficult math problem or need a confusing physics equation explaining, they turn to online private tutors who can give them feedback quickly and concisely.

But there are downsides to studying at home.

Self-restraint is the number one challenge. As children are now justified in using electronic devices at any time, they might easily open video game apps when their parents aren't watching.

Another concern is poor vision. Increased screen hours have parents worrying about their kids' eyesight.

Online retail has boomed in China during COVID-19. /VCG

Online retail has boomed in China during COVID-19. /VCG

Apart from work and school, the greatest pandemic success story comes from online retailers.

Online influencer marketing, once sneered at by physical stores, has become the biggest winner in the global economic shift. 

One anchor, one booth, one-hour live-streaming can bring tens of thousands in sales revenue.

The jaw-dropping rates of return have even attracted A-list TV stars, athletes, comedians and other celebrities to take a slice of the pie.

But experts warn that the heat of online retail could come down as shopping malls join in the big sale to attract customers.

China is leading in the research and development of 5G commercial use, VR, AI apps. Even when life goes back to normal, a future where every need can be met online could be coming soon.