For most model railroaders the hobby has a big social element in it. The cultural effect of the pandemic has hurt that. I think it's good to talk about it and share positive thoughts on what comes next. But it's a dreary subject.
One direction I think will sooth the hurts will be to explore the artistic side of our hobby. Artists have, for millennia past, been working in a mostly one way world. It is the rare artist (other than art teachers) who hangs around his exhibition to interact with others of his kind or the general public. Art is really an expression of one's self that is given to others, even if there is a minimal intercourse of communications involved.
So think about your model as a work of art. It is usually static. The 2d version is easy to share. The 3d is not so in these pandemic times even though technology of the future may change that. But there are also opportunities for especially the 2d version to be dynamic, by adding animation and making a video presentation as some of us are doing in early experiments. But the existing "art" and technology has a long way to go to compete with traditional forms of art.
One approach is to build the model or an entire scene and use it to tell a pleasing story (or perhaps a horror story) in a well posed and/or edited photo. We have pretty cool (and affordable) computer technology today to support that approach where the captured image is the essence of the art.
Another approach is a sequence of images that tell a story through the medium of changing scenery. Sure, moving train models around is the foundation of our hobby. But how about changing other elements of the scene to produce a story of a dynamic activity. How might we alter our modeling to make it easy to reset "stage" where the story is filmed. You don't need animation if the medium is a set of fixed images like illustrations in a story book. A real interesting approach is to model the same place in two different times, perhaps decades apart. What a great way to use up that duplicate kit you ended up with and never got around to selling or giving away. Just model all your buildings to be removable from the layout with a minimum of damage to the scenery around. Or make the "before" a vacant lot.
What you do need is model elements that are easy to move around (like human figures or trees with pins sticking down rather than flat bases). Or movable arms. How about smoke and steam that are painted on thin transparent plastic or boats that are waterline models with wakes. Lots of space here for creativity. And plenty of things to share with others as a new environmental reality surrounds us.