First, let me preface this post by saying the following: COVID-19 is a bad, bad, bad thing. A lot of people are suffering and will suffer and, sadly, die. It is nothing to rejoice about or celebrate. One can only hope that it sounds worse than it will be.
After having said that, let's look at what the positive outcomes could be for all of us. This is all speculations, but it's nice to think of the good things that could come out of this.
More Work From Home
I believe that this situation will lead to employers realizing that employees can be productive working from home with little to no added cost to them. Working from home is working for many companies already like aha! with their CEO Brian De Haaff blogging about it regularly.
More Remote Jobs
With more work from home comes more remote jobs. Employers will do the math and realize that a successful work from home program will save a lot of money. Office space for an employee costs the employer thousands of dollars a year (on the low end) just in rent. Employers will realize that they can hire anyone from anywhere without any additional costs. The bests will be available to anyone anywhere.
More Access to Education
With all the school closings, schools need to figure out how to carry out their primary mission without having a physical space. That means more and more MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) will come up as a result of this. A lot of universities already offer such programs but that number could increase. The same goes for the number of online degrees.
Increased Attention to Hygiene
Nothing says "pay attention to what you touch" more than the fear of catching a potentially deadly disease just by touching a soiled surface. I think we will start paying a little more attention to ourselves and how we impact others.
Increase in Self-Awareness
This whole "social distancing" campaign is aimed at limiting our impact on others, especially those less able to fight off illnesses. I think people will realize that they do matter and that every small action can make a great difference.
These are quite interesting times we are going through. I have personally never heard of anything like it before. Had this happened decades earlier the consequences would have been far more catastrophic. Businesses having the ability to close without shutting down is fascinating and exciting. I believe we will make it through as a better society.