COVID-imposed staying at home has changed our outlook
With the recent staying at home regulations – mandated or self-imposed – people have had the unusual opportunity of finding time for themselves again and spending considerably more time with their family and their homes as well.
Prior to the past few months, if we had done a survey among people working dozens of hours a week – and commuting much of that time as well – a consistent response would be that they would like to be able to spend more time with their families but didn’t feel that they could. Well, this is exactly what has happened.
People have been spending more time at home, being around those they love, participating in activities that they had been far too busy for in the past – or so they thought – And becoming reacquainted and reattached with their homes, their families, and activities for which they thought they were too busy to accomplish. People have been doing small maintenance projects, such as painting walls and mending and fixing items requiring their attention that they felt that they were too busy in the past to accomplish. These items fit nicely into their stay-at-home schedule, and many people found that they liked doing this.
People have found a benefit to staying at home
We may well see a huge paradigm shift going forward. People may not be in such a hurry to get back into the multiple hour commute to the office every day or the remaining at the office for 10 or more hours a day and being away from their family for which they just discovered a renewed sense of attachment and interest. It would not be at all surprising to see a huge boom in telecommuting and working from home even if and when the “all clear” signal is given.
People have discovered that they don’t have to be bound to their daily commute and the hassle of physically getting to and being in the office each day in order to get the work done. Working from home (“WFH”), learning and studying from home (for both students and professionals), communicating with friends and colleagues from the comfort of our homes has meant that essentially life has gone on in the business sense and that we really haven’t lost a step.
The office paradigm has changed
While we have not been face-to-face with people in the physical sense, the virtual sense has made up for it. We have not been physically present with each other to transmit documents or have hard copies of information we might have needed, but we have been able to communicate, discuss, collaborate, and share information in realtime just the same as if we had been there in person.
Often in a more efficient and relaxed way. without the tension of the commute, office activities and politics, and the stress of being inside the working environment, many of us were actually more productive working from home than we had been in the office situation.
The side activities such as coffee breaks, water cooler conversations, going to lunch, and many of the other activities which took up a significant portion of the workday, have not been necessary because we have been able to interact with those who have been important to us virtually. at the same time. Those extraneous activities have disappeared. with social media, videos, smartphones, and meeting platforms such as Zoom allowing us to remain engaged with people that really matter in our personal and professional lives.
Social interaction has changed
One thing that has been missing is the daily face-to-face meeting and interaction with colleagues and people that we would typically see at the coffee shop, book store, newsstand, or other places we frequent near our offices – because we have not been going to our offices. Many of these establishments have been closed as well.
Still, we have filled in the gaps and made up for many of these missing activities by spending more time with those around us at home and doing for ourselves with snacks, meals, and entertainment at home. We have become more self-sufficient and more cocooned rather than being so dependent on an external environment for our happiness or the way we went about our day.
Aging in place has a new perspective
Both in looking back and projecting ahead, many of us will find that this “forced” staying at home and being away from the workplace has been a significant mental and emotional health boost that we are happy to have had. We have reconnected with ourselves, our loved ones, and our homes, and the thoughts of staying at home and aging in place as the years go by no longer seem like something we would not appreciate, look forward to, be able to enjoy, or be able to handle.
We have gotten to know ourselves, our families, and our homes much more intimately over the last few weeks – hopefully for the better and for the long-term. This has been the silver lining to this major disruption in our lives – one that many people are going to adopt as the new normal without returning to the hectic pace that had ruled their lives in the past.