Stress, anxiety and uncertainty seem to paint our society with a broad brush these days. We’re not certain what education will look like for the next academic year. People are furloughed or laid off, unable to work in nonessential roles during the shelter-in-place order. Everyone is looking over their budgets, wondering how to make it out of this ordeal as whole as possible. Some are thinking they won’t. While we’re all feeling the burden, there’s an interesting element of positive change that has quietly stepped in alongside the ever-upending virus.
Just peek out your window to see families spending more time together in the beautiful springtime weather. Instead of running off to hang out with friends, siblings are forced to remember they were each other’s first playmates; neighborhood streets with frisbees sailing back and forth serve as evidence of these rekindled family friendships. Instead of the rush of daily schedules and weekend events, families are taking the time to bring back board games, reading and arts. We’re seeing a level of quality time that’s idealized in a fast-paced world, but not always realized until you strip away everything but the basics.
Then there are the work changes. Some employees who are able to continue working are finding the lack of a commute to be a welcome change; employers are realizing the potential of a remote workforce.
Large companies like Twitter were among the first to ask employees to work from home; the payoff might be that they keep it that way. If management recognizes that certain work can resume successfully with a team dispersed throughout the Bay Area — or even the nation — the result could mean workers can actually finish with their workday at five. Before, many reported their commute time to take one, two or more hours each way.
On a mental health level, eliminating a lengthy commute is beneficial. In addition, we’re already seeing environmental benefits from a decreased commuter population. If this shelter-in-place results in more companies allowing their employees to work from home, we’ll continue to see decreased emissions and accidents.
Companies and families have also learned to develop their creativity, as they solve problems that the shutdown has imposed. In some cases, they have faced up to issues that they had postponed. One company, for instance, is finally moving aggressively into social media to engage more effectively their younger customers.
We’ll get back into many of our routines when this is over. For now, remember to look for the silver lining of this rain cloud.