What is it?


The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world when it emerged in late 2019, altering the way society fundamentally interacts, lives and works. The country shut down; jobs, schools and universities went remote; people, businesses, governments and organizations had to adapt. Initially thought to be temporary, the ongoing reality of the pandemic has ushered in a new paradigm, altering lives today – and forever.  

How is it impacting the world today?

COVID-19 has changed how we live, work, learn and interact, creating a more virtual existence for people both personally and professionally.  

As a society, we have had to fundamentally change or reimagine the systems and processes we have relied on to make them more flexible, convenient and versatile. From telemedicine to reimagining the layout of public spaces, this new paradigm has created challenges yet has also created new opportunities for science, technology and design innovation.  

How is it being implemented across industry?

The pandemic has forced the world to accept and respond to constant change. Businesses have transformed, with huge shifts around supply chain, infrastructure, health care and the workplace. Companies have created new business models, while technology has adapted to allow for virtual meetings, doctor appointments, remote work and advanced communication. Hybrid work models remain in place for many companies, while public spaces encourage or enforce physical distancing, face coverings and more. “When the pandemic is over” is no longer a given, and industries are adapting to a new normal that incorporates the pandemic indefinitely.

3M and the New Paradigm

How is it being viewed, utilized and developed at 3M?

3M recognizes the important role innovation plays in this new paradigm. From developing telemedicine capabilities to support the future of virtual appointments, to implementing “Work Your Way,” 3M’s trust-based approach that lets employees work when and where they can most effectively, to rethinking public space through design, the efforts to embrace the new paradigm have created avenues for problem-solving and innovation.  

Diverse technologies changing our world.

All of our key “Futures” topics have played – and will play – a crucial role in the changes of tomorrow. From technologies like AI expanding efficiencies through machine learning and AR/VR ushering in mixed reality, to the ways the pandemic has highlighted the importance of sustainability and equity in challenging times, each will play an ongoing role in the new paradigm as we develop, consider and incorporate their abilities and applications.

A partner in times of crises.

3M has helped the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic – accelerating our own manufacturing of deeply needed products as well as sharing our expertise and collaborating with other companies, universities and nonprofits to help facilitate a robust global effort. One example: producing more than two billion respirators to help protect health care workers and first responders early in 2020.  

Big Picture: What could it mean for the future?

The short- and long-term future relating to COVID-19 is not easy to predict, but the manner in which daily lives have shifted and the way industries have revolutionized established systems suggest long-term change. The way society has lived over the course of the pandemic has created new developments and innovations to support a different way forward.  

Learn more about the application of the “New Paradigm” in our stories below, and see our 3M Futures survey on the New Paradigm, highlighting global perceptions of our new normal – and the way individuals around the globe see their lives changed forever.