The world has quietly reached the third anniversary of the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Because of how reports of cases of novel coronavirus first started coming out slowly from China before exploding across the globe, there's no single date and point of origin, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. So it's not one of those anniversaries where you can pinpoint a time and date and answer the question, "Where were you when..."
For me, there were a couple of things that are forefront of thought when it comes to the early days of COVID-19. First, I remember Crain Communications, publisher of Rubber News and Plastics News, in early March 2020 putting out word that staff would begin working remotely at home starting immediately. The other is my niece being the third official case to be documented in Summit County, Ohio. She had related health difficulties for many months after and recently suffered through a second bout of COVID. Thankfully this one wasn't as serious.
Going forward, there were numerous new phrases that became commonplace. Early on the term "pivot" took on new meaning, and "PPE" — or personal protective equipment — was part of the everyday vocabulary.
There also has been much focus on the changes to the workplace environment, particularly on the impact of remote work. A good percentage of workers whose jobs can be done from home now prefer to stay remote rather than return to the office, according to numerous reports.
We've also heard about such workplace phenomenon such as "The Great Retirement Boom," with the retired share of the U.S. population 1.5 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic levels.
There also have been terms that have been critical of the work ethic of remote staff. First there was "quiet quitting," where workers reportedly do the minimum requirements of the job. That now has been joined by "Bare Minimum Mondays," where people start the day late after a morning of self-care rituals.
Personally, I find these last two terms offensive. I always wondered if I could be productive outside of an office environment and found the answer actually quite different than I expected. With my computer at home, it's almost like a magnet, drawing me to work some crazy hours that, unfortunately, have negatively impacted my work-life balance.
What I don't do is worry about the productivity of our team while working remote. We have built an online camaraderie and talk about how we feel a sort of kinship when we see our Slack lights on after hours, indicating ongoing work in progress.
So as we move forward in a world where COVID remains present, I wish that everyone remains healthy and safe and that employers look for the good — rather than the bad — in their team members.
Bruce Meyer is editor of Rubber News. Reach him at [email protected].