August 17, 2020
I have found it amazing (and been humbled) that both Melissa and I have been hired to new jobs since the pandemic began. What has been even more amazing is that both of our jobs seem tailor made for what we are good at and like to do. To top it off, while both jobs are traditionally office oriented, during this time of turmoil they have become work from home opportunities. Melissa still goes into the office three times a week and I try to get there at least twice a week. Even when Melissa goes to the office, the meetings she attends are Zoom calls, even when the participants are seated in a cubicle eight feet away.
Both of us have found there are good and bad sides to this new office environment. Working from home means there are less of the normal distractions that come with interaction in an office setting. Starting a new job during the pandemic does make it harder to connect to your co-workers. While the zoom calls Melissa frequents identify the names of the participants, it does not say what they do or their position in the company. This has caused her to create flow charts outlining who reports to whom and what their job is. I only had a couple of visits with my people before the lockdown. Even though we have reopened, it is with masks and distancing. That makes it hard to connect a name to a face when the face is generally covered. It also limits my face time which has been an important way I used to connect in the past.
Another change has come in the way we use technology to accomplish what we do. I had used extended screens before but never really found them useful. Now that I commandeered Melissa’s home office, I have the luxury of a 30” monitor sitting next to my laptop. This initially provided a cool way to play my game but has since become an essential way for me to write. I pull up different documents or websites and cut and paste between the screens and rewrite. It is now hard for me to sit down with just my laptop. Melissa has it harder. At work she uses three monitors to transfer thoughts and images about her various databases. Once you get used to enhanced access, it is hard to go back.
THOUGHTS: Melissa was bemoaning how she only had two screens when she worked at home. I mentioned we had an additional flat screen monitor in the bedroom that was not being used. This was an older version that had a VGA connection, but it was larger and available. We went to the store and bought the right converter and she was set. Her work on Friday was back to the new normal. This new normal is forcing us to reevaluate not only what is essential work, but how the work we do is being done. More work is being done from home and may never go back to the office. Robots are being employed to accomplish repetitious jobs faster and with greater accuracy. Just as the information age phased out old jobs and created new ones, so has the pandemic. What has remained is the human element of a desire to connect with others. Connecting while distancing sounds like the next wave of self-help books. Change is coming and it starts with you.