Lasting effects

Three observations from a pandemic crystal ball

Spring has a way of brightening our spirits. There’s a sense of renewal as we look forward to sunnier days ahead. 

This spring in particular, that hopeful feeling is heightened in many of us. Finally: it’s time to truly look to the future with excitement. Soon, perhaps, we can put those dark days behind us. 

And yet, much of what we experienced these past months has a good chance to linger beyond spring and even further into the years to come. Here are three of the positive effects of our pandemic year (and counting) that are likely to be part of our working lives for some time.

  1. Where we work

Work from home? Output quality will suffer, some said. Teamwork will take a nosedive. Dig a deep, deep hole and drop your motivation into it. After all, how can anyone get work done with a yapping pet, kids and a comfy couch beckoning from the living room? Answer: pretty well, it turns out—better than before, even. 

Why? For starters, there’s all that time saved not commuting. Remember rushing home and finally arriving all stressed from yet another traffic jam? Now, you get to spend time with your family while you’re in a good mood. That dentist appointment near home that used to take two hours now takes one. All that newfound time lets you do all sorts of things that might have heretofore fallen by the wayside like reading, cooking or talking a walk.

Comfort goes a long way, too. Few people actually relish sharing a bathroom with a crowd. There’s a certain satisfaction knowing you can heat up leftover fish without a chorus of complaints about the smell. And what happens if you don’t complete something on Friday that’s due Monday morning? Burn the midnight oil at your desk? That’s so 2019. You have more options now, like finishing it after a refreshing morning workout on Saturday.

  1. What we wear

 Maybe you’ve seen those haute loungewear ads as you scroll social media. And while sweatpants and a hoodie (even if they are knit from cashmere) worn to the office may not be the best idea (would you take financial advice from someone who, cashmere or no, looks like a sloppy middle schooler?), comfort and versatility will loom large. 

Whether working from home or from an office or branch, chances are the high heels have long been kicked off under the desk. Dare I say, if you wear them, you risk looking old-fashioned, even out of touch with reality. This goes for fancy men’s shoes too, though somehow they’re not as impractical. In any case, anything too formal, including suits and business-y blouses, are fast becoming vestiges of a bygone era best relegated to the dark recesses of the closet. Or you can try donating them. Somewhere in a faraway land, people might still wear that stuff.

On the flip side, flats and low heels that you can sprint in from the furthest corner of the parking lot at 8:05 a.m.? Check. Clothes that look professional but don’t scream “office” as you pick up dinner after work? Check mate. Stretchy, cozy, casual but quality—these words will define the past year’s sartorial legacy.

  1. Cleanliness and wellness

Anyone showing up hacking and sniffing to the office, school or store will continue to be a pariah. Good. Sick people: stay home. (After all, you’re more productive there anyway.) 

We’re used to cleanliness measures now. It’s normal to have hand sanitizer in the desk, car, purse or pocket. It’ll continue to be available from a dispenser inside the front door and on the teller line for members. At our credit union, wellness activities for employees include pointing out resources for mental health, too. Suggestions for nutritious meals and physical fitness pursuits are included in the wellness newsletters we all receive. Health has become a group effort.

When the pandemic becomes mostly memory, could this sort of shared focus on health be parlayed into a more widespread general concern for others? Will individual actions to tackle public health issues be part of our new normal?

The crystal ball is getting cloudy.

Cynthia Kolko

Cynthia Kolko

Cynthia Kolko manages community involvement and public relations activities for The Summit Federal Credit Union, which serves members across Western and Central New York. She is also The Summit's copywriter, ... Web: Details