Mark Raeburn: 4 min read

What will the world look like this time next year?

No one knows. 2020 has brought us the conclusion to the ongoing, will they, won’t they saga that was Brexit, devastating storms and Covid-19. It’s been a challenging year to say the least and we have still to complete half of it and so looking to predict what the world will look like next year that is the real challenge.

We will have a cure for Covid-19 by the end of 2021, we hope, and whilst all evidence points to this fact, we cannot guarantee. We will have a conclusion to the post-Brexit negotiations, we hope and whilst the government has not stated a delay, this is a possibility with Covid-19.

2021 is still clouded in mystery and so what will the year mostly look like? What can we summarise, based on what we have seen and heard?


Post Brexit?

2020 started with the conclusion to the ongoing saga that was and still is Brexit. This was supposed to be the year in which the United Kingdom forged its path, separate from the European Union. Like it or loathe it, this was to be the focus of 2020, not relentless storms that devastated communities and the arrival of a global pandemic.

Talks are ongoing and whilst the UK stated that there will not be an extension of the post-break-up talks, it seems inevitable. With Covid-19 being the main focus of every country, surely there will be an extension to ensure that a mutual agreement is reached rather than a rushed compromise. This would be in the interest of neither entity and we agree with the position of the Labour party on this topic.

Speaking to Sky News, shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves said Labour "absolutely do not want" the UK to end the transition period in December without a deal and urged the government not to "rush this".

"The last thing our country and our economy needs at the moment is a further shock that could put jobs and livelihoods at risk," she said.

Areas of controversy still surround the border in Ireland and access to fishing waters. These and other areas have reached little agreement and there is a possibility of the country being in the same position this time next year. We hope that this is not the case and we have a mutually beneficial agreement signed by both parties, alongside a way out of the global pandemic. The focus of everyone should be to help those less fortunate and make a difference to their lives. It is with this in mind that we trust in the government to have a Brexit deal that will put those on the ground first, save jobs and allow for the focus to be brought back to health and social care.

Post Covid-19?

One of the industries that will see the greatest change following Covid-19 will be air travel. No-one knows for sure but as one of the chief carriers of the disease, it will need to up its game to reassure passengers. Plastic screens separating the middle seat, onboard cleaners and at the gate blood are just a few of the proposals making the rounds at present. Whether some or all of these make the final cut is another discussion, but one thing is for sure, this industry will change dramatically following Covid-19.

Offices will be another area of life that will receive a radical makeover, whether, companies move towards working from home or look to bring their teams back, we do not know. What we do know is that the ability to transition from the office to home working has been made possible through the Cloud and programmes built around this.

The move towards technological relevant solutions across health and social care has been a slow burner, with fax machines still in use in the NHS as recently as last year. Digital 2020 has lit a spark but to push forward with implementations and change has been something that has taken time. The arrival of Covid-19 changed this with new technology solutions prescribed from the top down and change coming quickly because it was needed asap. Approaches like this we hope will continue as the technological revolution is desperately needed across the health and social care systems.

What we would like to see this time next year is that the virus is under control and a vaccination has been developed. Change and adoption of technology are taking place on mass across health and social care and investment in this area is attracting people to join. With more than 600,000 vacancies within technology and the desire to create a niche for the United Kingdom post-Brexit, the time to act is now.

What will the economy look like?

Turbulent is the most logical answer here. It is not the one that we wish to present but it is one that is hard to avoid. The United Kingdom will have by this time next year finished the divorce proceedings from the European Union, turned the corner with Covid-19 and begun to rebuild the economy around technological investment.

600,000 vacancies and a world that relies on technology, the opportunity to shape the world and push the boundaries are here. This is one area of life across the world that will only continue to grow, hopefully to the point where we can identify new viruses and diseases earlier and create vaccines easier.

As a nation, we hope that the Conservative Government will invest in this area to help push us forward beyond the current crisis. Investment in technology will create more jobs that can be completed at home and unlock doors to new ways of working. This will help health and social care develop cures and safer ways of working to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.

How digital technology will shape 2021?

We have believed that technology is an enabler of change since Peter O’Hara set OLM up nearly 30 years ago. He is still here today pushing forward with this vision of creating change in health and social care through the use of technology. We believe that it will be this push beyond Digital 2020 that will define the United Kingdom and its identity in the world for years to come.

The consensus is that the last 12 weeks are likely to be the catalyst that brings about a change in working life and vastly increases the importance of digital technology and investments in technology platforms.

A recent Mckinsey report - The Covid-19 recovery will be digital stated ‘Recent data show that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around weeks.  Banks have transitioned to remote sales and service teams and launched digital outreach to customers to make flexible payment arrangements for loans and mortgages. Grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery as their primary business.  Schools in many locales have pivoted to 100 per cent online learning and digital classrooms.  Doctors have begun delivering telemedicine, aided by more flexible regulation. Manufacturers are actively developing plans for ‘lights out’ factories and supply chains.  The list goes on.”

Technology is on the frontlines helping to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 and this will not stop in 2021, it will step up to the next level. Between now and then thousands of researchers will make breakthroughs and share these around the world to ensure that as soon as humanely possible, we can begin to vaccinate people.

We believe that with the impending end to divorce proceedings and need to craft out a new identity for the United Kingdom, technology is a key area for investment. This is what will help us move beyond our current struggles, develop a vaccine sooner and help the economy to bounce back and create careers for life.

Impact on care and health;

Whilst care and health will remain a people business, and face to face interaction will a remain essential component, there will be an impact. The pandemic and the associated acceleration of digital methods in all other areas of society is bound to feed into the Health and Care Sector. You can see this with Doctors already after the crisis video appointments are bound to increase in popularity compared to before.

In Children’s Social Care the use of online chat and video calls has been extremely well received by the Children and Young People. Technology is bound to shape more and more of the sector. 


In life nothing is certain. This has never been truer than it is today. We are living in the most uncertain times with a world that is continuing forward as best as possible, behind closed doors. The world will move beyond the challenge that is Covid-19, that is certain but the time it takes to do so is the question that is on everyone’s lips. A post-Covid-19 world will change society in much the same way that 9-11 did.

Airline travel will change, alongside access to healthcare and work. It will affect society for years to come and will be a challenge but where there is a challenge there is an opportunity. Technology has proven to be essential to everyone at this time. From Zoom calls to WhatsApp, from shopping online to sharing data of patients, technology has helped accelerate the search for a cure.

With more than 600,000 vacancies in technology and the quest to carve out an identity for the United Kingdom in a post-Brexit world, an opportunity is here. We need more people to fill these vacancies as that is where the future is. The more we invest in technology, the quicker the economy will rebound and the quicker we can develop a cure for Covid-19 and prevent further loss of life. The next few years will be a challenge for everyone and we hope that with the assistance of technology, we can move beyond Covid-19 and save lives.

If you would like a discussion about how you accelerate your organisation’s digital capabilities to keep pace in the new world then please do get in contact.