At propelland we believe we can all be change agents. Now more than ever, we are prepared to use our skills as makers, designers, and business leaders to lead in a world that has become the new normal. By releasing this report, we hope to help our network and community continue creating the extraordinary in an ambiguous and irrevocably different world shaped by COVID-19.

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To ensure a more holistic perspective and to delve deep into the community psyche, we deployed a survey, conducted remote focus groups, and performed secondary research.


The survey was distributed through propelland’s network in English and Spanish from April 6 to April 12, 2020. We received a total of 427 valid entries with responses from participants residing in 25 countries. The top represented countries were Spain (39.34%), Mexico (29.98%), the United States (14.75%), India (4.68%), and Argentina (2.34%). The remaining countries had ≤1% representation: Andorra, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

For those that self-identified as business owners (35.24%), the survey contained 8 additional questions regarding recent challenges to their businesses. This segment included participants from Spain, Mexico, the United States, India, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, and Colombia. The majority of businesses have fewer than 10 employees (78.75%), followed by 10-50 employees (16.25%), 50-100 employees (2.50%), and more than 100 employees (2.50%).

Facebook focus groups

Focus groups were conducted remotely through two Facebook groups, one for Spanish-speaking participants (24) and another for English-speaking participants (10). The groups received one prompt per day from April 6-10. Participants were asked to provide individual answers to each prompt and invited to react to one another’s responses to promote conversations. Participants were recruited through propelland’s network in Spain (12), Mexico (11), and the United States (9). The data collected is anonymized to protect participants’ identities.

Secondary research

Secondary research consisted of compiling third-party reports, articles from sources like The Financial Times, The New York Times, and Fast Company among other publications, and social listening on social media platforms like Facebook, Medium, Reddit, and Twitter.


  • Today
  • Emerging Trends
  • The future reimagined


With the uncertainty that surrounds our current situation, many of us are living day to day and asking: “What adds value to my life today?”

Despite differences among individual considerations and mindsets, we have identified key collective behaviors that affect people’s perceptions of products, services, and experiences in a COVID dominated world.

The role of propelland in the new normal is to help accelerate immediate impact by bringing to life solutions that add value in people’s lives. Hacking ways to recover better and faster. Hugo Giralt, propelland Founding Partner and CEO

Individuals Behaviors

6′ Bubbles

Social distancing will become second nature for people when they go out. With the common refrain to keep six feet away from each other, we will think in terms of 6 foot bubbles to avoid becoming sick.

We asked survey participants, “What could ease your biggest challenge right now?” The majority of participants choose health (39.3%) over routine (20.5%), money (18.3%), public measures (11.4%), and other (10.5%).

Planning before Outing

While you may have used a grocery list before, you may now be doing a fair amount of prep work to maximize your time outside. When casual shopping shifts to online-first, the customer experiences will need to evolve. The planning will likely extend to any public spaces where people congregate.

“Some other services that I wished existed… An online tool to check/predict what’s available in a particular grocery store without going there.”

Borderless Relationships

While time difference is still a barrier, geography has become increasingly blurred by the common denominator of confinement and lack of spacial attachment.

“I’ve had video calls with family members I never call and I’ve celebrated 3 birthdays on Zoom of friends I’d never been able to sing happy birthday before because we all live in different cities.”

Battling Screen Time

People are spending more time with their screens and that has intensified contradictory emotions in a battle to balance work and play. Working parents with children at home have increased pressure from managing screen time for home-school and for entertainment purposes.

The following statement exemplifies the responses that dominate the survey answers and focus group entries:

“I have doubled the use of video consumption, for professional, personal, and development activities.”

Focus on Self

Increased focus on personal health and wellness – cooking & eating healthy, working out, mental health, and self-development are some of the key areas people have increased attention to.

“Digital learning has exploded and the strong network connection makes this and more possible for me. When it comes to using digital services, I have broken many personal barriers throughout this period.”

Among the digital services adopted throughout the stay-home period, online workouts and online learning have the highest stickiness rate outlook.

Delayed Decisions

People are focusing on the short-term. Decisions such as buying a home, getting married, and holidays are being put off. Most of the attention is shifting from spending to saving.

“Wanting to remain financially solvent and work to help in this crisis, yet not being able to help, or find places to allocate my time and purpose — is a disheartening and unique purgatory.”

In spite of immediate concerns, the outlook for the next 10 years is predominantly positive—especially amongst age groups that make up the workforce.

Businesses Behaviors

DRAW OBSERVATIONS — find Paco’s work and add Hugo’s intro from deck retrofitted for this




The future does not occur in a void. The future is a result of a number of factors and decisions at a moment in time with effects that unfold over time. For example, COVID-19 is a factor that has led to a number of decisions at a policy, professional, and personal level that have accelerated the pace at which the future unfolds. As a consequence, some of the business models, products, services, and experiences that fulfilled our needs and desires three months ago seem unfit today. On the other hand, emerging models that were growing slowly are quickly gaining preference.

From our research insights and observations of collective behaviors, we identified six trends influencing the transformation of businesses and systems adapting to coexist with COVID-19. Along with each trend, we present a selection of existing products, services, and experiences, showcasing the acceleration of models and behaviors that will persevere and propel us into the future.

“As this pandemic accelerates the digital transformation of our work and lives, propelland’s hacking mindset and extensive toolbox can help companies navigate the uncertainties of this time, and come out stronger on the other side.” Sid Vanchinathan, propelland Founding Partner and COO


Trend # 1 Seamless transition from screen to door

Due to the increased anxiety of being in public, digital and physical touch-points will become increasingly integrated to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

Optimized experiences

Launched in 2017, Nordstrom Local is a retail space with a focus on services rather than products. The stores themselves have no inventory and the space is comparable to a hair-salon in size. In fact, if you need a hair-cut some locations of Nordstrom Local will be able to help you. The value-add services vary per location based on the needs Nordstrom identifies in the area. Some of the core services across locations include easy online order pick-up (including curbside pick-ups), alterations, easy return & exchanges (including mail returns to other online retailers), and styling help. The stores also feature local partnerships with non-for-profits.

Recommended read: Why The Expansion Of Nordstrom Local Is Important

Browsing experience beyond four walls

Pincodes is the term Pinterest uses for the visual search-enabled QR codes that allow retailers like Ikea, Albertsons, Target, and The Home Depot, to connect online and offline retail experiences. Pinterest Lens uses Pincodes to recognize objects and shorten the consumer journey, moving from discovery to cart in as little as two clicks. The computer vision technology Pinterest leverages makes Lens capable of recognizing 2.5 billion items across the categories of home and fashion.

Recommended read: How Pinterest’s Cofounders Are Turning Cameras Into Keyboards

Reduced physical friction with automation

A combination of computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning make for a cashier and line-less grocery shopping experience at 27 brick-and-mortar Amazon Go Grocery stores. Just Walk Out is the name of the technology behind the model and the tech giant just announced a licensing model for third-party retailers. Starship Technologies has launched a food delivery service that offers a frictionless and contactless experience guarding health safety. Users order through the Starship delivery app and drop a pin where they want the delivery to be dropped off by a robot that is supervised remotely by a human controller for troubleshooting.

Recommended read: As coronavirus hits hard, Amazon starts licensing cashier-free technology to retailers


Trend #2 Tradeoffs for humanity’s collective good

As priorities shift, competitors are collaborating to bring health solutions to market faster and individuals are lowering barriers and giving up data, time, and expertise towards collective wellbeing.


Google + Apple Public Announced an unprecedented partnership to develop tracing Bluetooth-enabled technology. The end goal is to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus. Both companies have presented a unified front with user privacy and security central to the design of the solution. On a separate note, McDonald’s and Aldi have established a personnel pact allowing Aldi to make front to increased demand while the fast-food retailer rides the halt to their business. Lyft and Amazon have followed a similar model, where Lyft drivers have a dedicated portal on Amazon’s career page to expedite hiring for fulfillment positions and make front to online orders surge and, on the other hand, to plummeted demand of ridesharing.

Recommended read: Aldi, McDonald’s Make Staff-Sharing Deal in Germany

Open health innovation

A self-reporting Android and iOS app that invites users upfront to donate their personal data to contribute to COVID-19 spread research. The data aggregated is shared with researchers, public health professionals, and doctors, including those who are signed on as collaborators with the project. In addition, for each unique data donation, HowWeFeel donates a meal through Feeding America. In general, the collaboration between the global scientific community has skyrocketed and broken many IP barriers for innovation. Take, for example, COVID Moon Shot a website that collects compound designs for potential cures and Folding at Home also in the quest to find therapeutic solutions which increased the capacity to run simulations with volunteers’ computer processors.

Recommended read: Pinterest CEO and a team of leading scientists launch a self-reporting COVID-19 tracking app

Freedom redefined ****

Information like body temperature and blood test results were previously guarded jealously to protect patient’s confidentiality. Now, food delivery companies in China and factories all around the world have implemented temperature tracking as a measure to prevent the spread and establish trust. Dubai based airline Emirates has implemented a blood test at check-in to decrease the risk of spread during confinement in airplane cabins.

Recommended read: As fever checks become the norm in coronavirus era, demand for thermal cameras soars


Trend #3 No more postponing

Our vulnerabilities as a global community have been amplified further exposing the need to address these issues comprehensively and urgently.


The adoption of digital products, services, and systems is happening faster than the development of the infrastructure to secure online communications, transactions, etc. Distributed servers and varying intelligence law requirements hid behind delightful customer experiences and user interfaces. Such is the case of Zoom, the publicly-traded American video conferencing company that hosts its servers in China and has been reported to share users’ data with the government in compliance with the intelligence law of the country. In addition to the information sharing threat, unsecured connections gave place to Zoom bombings, where unauthorized users joined meetings and displayed inappropriate content.

Recommended read: Cybersecurity And Compliance In The New Decade

Social disparity

As of April 16, there were 22M claims for unemployment in the United States. Besides health safety, job security, personal finances, the global economy, and business survival are the top concerns reported by survey respondents. Concerns around the future of societal constructs like the division of private and public domains and what are the responsibilities that fall under each domain are in question. Like for example, what is the role of companies in ensuring benefits for contract workers? Or what is the role of citizens in ensuring the safety of communities? In the current climate, the faults of the systems will continue to shift models and the roles of stakeholders. An example of such is offered by CITIZEN, a safety app providing instant access to verified 911 information initially flagged by users—reporting everything from fires and robberies to missing pets and natural disasters.

Recommended read: Risk to Jobs Now ‘Unprecedented Since the Great Depression’

Environmental sustainability ****

In spite of conversations around cities being cleared up off smog due to the stay-home orders around the world, the lasting effects of business as usual are irreversible. Consumers will be more aware than ever and will prioritize products that are in line with their values. The question at hand is how will manufacturing, supply chains, and business models adapt? We expect some processes and stakeholders will shift to local execution, and in some cases even local manufacturing. In parallel, products and services will continue to become interconnected through models designed to reduce waste. Such is the case of BLUELAND, a startup selling cleaning products on a subscription model. The value proposition is a cleaner home and a cleaner planet and it is delivered through reusable bottles and dissolvable cleaning tablets that eliminate plastic containers and reduce packaging waste overall.

Recommended read: What Will Manufacturing’s New Normal Be After COVID-19?


Trend #4 Future of work is now

Work from home policies implemented quickly due to shelter in place rules have proven that business can continue with remote workers, and have thrown new challenges and opportunities for consideration.

Remote collaboration

As remote work becomes a solution for companies able to sustain operations with employees working from home, new etiquettes, workflows, space designs, and tools will flourish. Supported by sustained demand, new tools, and features to improve the user experience will continue to transform the landscape. Remote collaboration challenges employees are experiencing include focus, managing teams, creating with constrained equipment, and managing relationships with housemates, significant other, and children. Trello is a web-based list-making application that helps teams and individuals manage workflows alike—creating a digital space that can ease the combination of tasks that employees face while working from home.

Recommended read: Building Product Design Leadership From Home

Distributed talent

With a proven model for remote work, distributed talent is a logical sidekick to jobs that primarily rely on computers. One of the major shifts is in the employee journey, where every touch-point, including recruiting, happens online. Eightfold.AIis a platform for talent acquisition, management, diversity, and candidate experience. Recently the company has expanded its focus from hard-to-fill roles to distributed talent recruitment by creating a new offering called Virtual Event Recruiting. Another example of platforms that facilitate a distributed workforce is DOUBLE, which connects busy executives with experienced human assistants and technology to increase efficiency.

Recommended read:

Balancing work-life

Most daily routines, both at a personal and professional level, have been translated into digital formats and the time spent interacting with screens has become a source of tension from awakening contradictory emotions. One emerging topic raising from this category is how to help employees manage their mental health. For instance, IBM has “…taken steps that include providing online educational resources like resilience training, mindfulness communities and confidential support programs such as virtual or telephone counseling.” While in the future remote collaboration tools might adopt a holistic employee view, some apps like FITON and HEADSPACE offer options to incorporate mental and physical breaks to stretch or meditate.

Recommended read: In A COVID-19 World, Mental Health Is Workforce Health


Trend #5 Internet exclusion exposed

Digital tools and platforms experiences are agnostic to age, raising concerns about children safety and elderly inclusivity. Online sales channels are designed for users with wide access to digital financial services.

Age inclusion

After the stay home orders are lifted, seniors will continue to be the most vulnerable demographic and children will remain out of school in many countries at least until the end of the summer. In the coming months, improved age-screening and enhanced experiences to teach users how to navigate will make filters and age-specific tools for online navigation more common. ADD EXAMPLES

Recommended read:

Digital social breach

“As more Americans are forced to stay at home and practice social distancing, the income and internet divide is becoming clear in new ways for those who rely on food-assistance programs (SNAP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture has piloted an online program for years with little success. Currently, the retailers accepting SNAP payments online include Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite and Wright’s Market–however, states coverage is limited.”

Recommended read: Amazon, Walmart and the low-income grocery-shopping divide exposed by the coronavirus


Trend #6 **Can’t Won’t touch this**

In the name of health safety digitization of everything will propagate and in some markets leap-frog. From payments to identity, digital systems will favor consolidation–in some cases driven by private organizations and in others by institutions.

Touchless payments / Digital currencies


Recommended read:

Digital identities


Recommended read:

Space design


Plane redesign for personal space.

Recommended read: This is the end of the office as we know it


The Future Reimagined (ILLUSTRATION HERE)

Describe next steps for companies: reinvention and transformation

The future reimagined

What is public safety?

Public spaces are enabled by sensors that are able to determine health indicators from personal wearables.

What is mobility safety?

Cleanliness in shared transportation is an insurance worthy factor.

What is health safety?

Touch-less future enabled by digital identity technology (like that offered by Proxy).

What is supply chain safety?

Automated RPAs, IPAs, and uninterrupted distribution networks.

What is digital experience safety?

Cybersecurity solutions for careless parents of children learning 100% online.


The Future is Today

— ADD inspirational closing remarks

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Recommended reads written by propellers:

Recommended read: Building Product Design Leadership From Home

Recommended read: The Aroma of Inclusive Design