A Change Is Gonna Come
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Again this week I've been thinking about COVID-19, and specifically the way in which our lives will change once we get on the other side of this pandemic.
Over the first 7-8 months of restrictions, I hesitated to consider that there'd be much change at all. After all, we humans are creatures of habit, and habits die hard. However, as we approach one full year of masks, distancing and lockdowns, I believe we are now looking at our behaviours being fundamentally changed and our social structures impacted. We are at the point of having developed new habits that will change our lives for the long term.
So, based on some reading I've done, podcasts I've listened to, and my own rumination, here are a few thoughts on the years ahead. My apologies to the fine journalists out there whose thoughtful perspectives and research I've managed to reduce to a few dozen words.
Offices are essential
There's no question that most of us have enjoyed the convenience of no longer needing to get up early in the morning to rush ourselves off to work. However, it's become obvious that we need social interaction in our days. Even the most diehard introverts have expressed their need to spend time with their colleagues in-person and not over a screen. Working from home is not a permanent solution.
Home offices are essential too
Despite the need to enjoy informal social interaction and the enhanced productivity that comes with being face-to-face with our colleagues, we won't be filling our offices to capacity for quite some time to come. The need for a home workspace will remain a priority. Over the long term, I expect we'll see new homes being built with this in mind. A dedicated work space will become commonplace in our homes rather than shoehorning ourselves into a spare bedroom or corner nook.
I anticipate that even the most dedicated climate warrior is going to have second thoughts about cozying up to random strangers on an overcrowded bus or train. Social distancing is so ingrained in us now that even after vaccines have helped us achieve herd immunity, there will still be concerns about picking up an infectious disease while on our morning commute. Ditto for carpools. They're so last decade anyway.
That's not going to fly
Speaking of travel, we're all itching to travel again, whether it's to visit aunt Alice in Moose Jaw or a sandy beach in the Caribbean. But, I don't expect flying will ever be the same. Just as 9-11 upended the travel industry, COVID is going to make a permanent impression on our flying experience. Having lost billions of dollars with flights grounded across the planet, airlines - those that survive - will need to adapt to fewer passengers with increased expectations. When we finally do get back to flying again, let's all be extra nice to our flight attendants, ok? They've had a rough year.
Food for thought
When was the last time you enjoyed a meal inside your favourite restaurant? Even though restrictions were loosened over the summer, allowing for limited capacity to dine indoors, I've not eaten a meal in a restaurant for over a year now. Lots of take-out and drive-throughs, but not seated at a table inside. Over the summer though, I enjoyed patio dining in the warm sunshine - as did millions of other people. I anticipate the coming warmer weather will bring along with it an expanded number of restaurants offering outdoor dining. Patios, sidewalks, closed boulevards and back alleys are going to be spruced up so we can enjoy our meals outdoors. Who said dining al fresco was just for Italians?
Those are just a few highlights of the things I anticipate will change. As for the personal interactions we have with those around us on a daily basis - family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, strangers - well, that's up to you and I.
We have the option to go back to "normal" and continue keeping people at arms length as we tend to do - especially here in Canada. Or, we can keep tearing down the walls that separate us from one another and, instead, build a warmer, more caring, more other-centred society that we've seen glimmers of over the past year.
Personally, I don't want to go back to normal. I can't wait to invite the neighbours over for a glass of wine on the back patio - once the weather warms up that is. This is Canada after all.