My how quickly things have changed. There’s life as we knew it “pre-corona” and life as we’ll know it after. And the defining elements of this new universe will be marked by masks and gloves and colored with phrases like Social Distancing, Self-Imposed Isolation and Shelter-in-Place. Wow…just wow.
Oh, the good old days. Remember when we were free to roam about our planet? Moving around countries, cities, towns, stores, companies, and social events with our carefree attitudes? Unconcerned whether the person in the adjacent airline seat, ahead of us in line at the grocery store or in the next cubicle was unknowingly spreading a potential villain with their breath or on their hands? Yikes. It does have rather sinister and surreal overtones, yet this is life now. With fingers crossed and prayers to our respective deities, let’s hope this isn’t forever, but we do need to prepare for a transition. It seems to be the start of a whole new world for us all – personally, socially and professionally. Yes, there’ll be an adjustment period but seeing as we humans are responsive, creative, adaptable creatures, I sense we’re going to be just fine in the long run.
Professionally speaking though, what can we expect? Work for many people isn’t just a four-letter word, something dreaded and awful. It’s something we love, something we’ve cultivated like crops in a garden or nurtured throughout a lifetime. Something that provides us with not only money, but purpose. How can we continue to do what we love and do it safely and efficiently, yet remotely?
Well, let’s be real, there are still a few jobs that can’t be done remotely at this time. We don’t have robots (yet?) manning grocery stores, caring for the sick, repairing cars, harvesting crops or cooking and serving in our favorite restaurants. These jobs already look different though. Grocery clerks are behind plastic screens. Caregivers are covered head to foot in PPE. Car repair technicians wipe down steering wheels with sanitizer before a test drive. There are concerns there may be shortages of field workers who can’t travel yearly to farms. Fewer tables mean less customers, so less servers will be needed. Chefs are boxing up meals for take away.
But what about those who work in a traditional office setting? How will things be different there? A few months ago, who would have thought so many people would now be working remotely? Well, some did, like savvy tech startups, forward thinking companies and innovative leaders who already knew that retaining some of the best talent means being flexible with space and time. This isn’t a new concept folks. But, for all those who’ve struggled with employers who still maintained a “tush in the cush” (I know one who said this phrase regularly) attitude emphasizing a hard-nose start to finish time in the office, hang tight because there’s change afoot.
As employees, for those of us who have already dabbled in remote work, the transition will be a bit easier. For those who haven’t there’ll be an adjustment period but trust me, you’ll get used to it. You grow to like not worrying about getting home to walk the dog or checking if the kids are ok, because they’re right there with you. This can also present a challenge, well, because they’re right there with you. The dog will to tell you when he or she has to go out and even the quietest of kids need attention. So when you’re struggling to focus without distraction, just think of the money your saving on “work clothes”, commuting, and lunches out.
For employers, virtual meetings and file sharing have become regular occurrences with staff. With the ability to connect distantly, costs associated with in person meetings, seminars and conferences have diminished. With slashed budgets, this mode of sharing information will be more desired than ever before. And employers now have to do what some find unimaginable, actually trust that their employees are doing their job.
So, business as usual is now business as unusual. Yet, some business is still getting done. People will find a way. It’s what we do. And work-life in the new coronaverse will be the same as before, only different…a new brand version of both order and chaos, working side by side.