Fourteen months… and counting. Surreal living has taken a toll. So has working from makeshift home offices for those lucky enough not to be laid off, furloughed or tethered to a workplace where they had to mask up six feet apart.
Some of us juggled work and life more carefully than ever before, enduring Zoom fatigue in fuzzy slippers and frequent interruptions from barking dogs or children craving carbs between their own string of virtual calls with teachers and classmates. Without clear boundaries, work spilled into evenings and weekends for a significant number of working Americans. Clutter and chaos were unavoidable. Others toiled away in extreme isolation and encountered unbearable loneliness along the way.
Collateral damage from COVID-19 was enormous. Suicide, relapse and divorce were all up amid a mounting mental health crisis, while more Americans barely scraped by paycheck to paycheck, necessitating multiple rounds of federal stimulus payments. Nearly 50 million Americans, including self-employed individuals like myself, filed for unemployment benefits at one point. Many of those who kept their job have expressed a desire to quit once the dust settles.
Business conditions also deteriorated. The supply chain slowed to a crawl worldwide and commercial real estate resembled ghost towns. While the stock market briefly plummeted to frightening lows, it has since been coated in Teflon as the world’s wealthiest people had a record-setting year.
Whatever fate befell us during the pandemic, four valuable lessons involving several important topics were learned across workplaces, which may never be the same: