Maya Angelou once wrote, “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Her sentiment is one that’s felt by many of us in this COVID-19 era. Life as we know it began slipping sideways this past March before getting tossed totally upside down.
And yet here we are — perhaps a little bruised and battered, some of us more than others. But we’re still standing. Still fighting. Still refusing to be reduced by the change.
Not only do we stand resilient and defiant, but I believe that we, as individuals, a nation, and a human race, can actually grow through this process and emerge better, stronger, and more fully human. Here just a few ways how…
#1 Forced technology usage
Yes, Zoom stock is up 234% since we became utterly reliant on video meetings. But there’s more to the story. Forced technology adaptation will accelerate development and growth in the tech sector like we’ve never seen before. Demand for messaging services, video conferencing, project management tools, and cloud storage has pushed into hyperspeed. As demand increases, prices will come down and products and workflow efficiencies will improve.
At the same time, our kids will be better prepared to pivot and to learn through new mediums like online learning. Our children, like us, have had to adapt and learn new ways of being social. As clinical psychologist Elena Hontoria Tuerk said in a New Yorker interview:
“This is obviously very challenging for kids. But I do think the fact that this is something we are all going through can really be a place for them to experience resilience. They are going through this, but we are all going to do this together. I think that has real advantages. This form of adversity, when it is shared by a community, can really benefit kids’ character. It makes them part of a larger civic life that they can actually be a productive and helpful part of. So I don’t see it as all bad. There is something to shared adversity when it is not too extreme that can actually help kids grow.”
#2 Working from home
Clock in at 9, clock out at 5? Maybe not so much anymore. Work from home (WFH) has allowed many employees and organizations to improve productivity and rethink work life. “So long as you get your work done, I don’t care when you do it,” is the new M.O. in many offices. As kids return to school, many of them virtually, employers are almost forced to be more lenient with employees’ schedules and availability.
Many organizations, such as Cisco and Deutsche Bank, have thrived in the WFH setting, according to a New York Times article published in June. Still, emotional and social fallout remain the biggest concern associated with WFH life. As one senior executive said, “While we may have had a productivity bump in the short term, we need to respect the home and work balance. We want to make sure they don’t burn out.”
#3 Rethinking location
If you can work from anywhere, why not live anywhere? The 300-square-foot studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan isn’t necessary when all you need to complete your job is a computer and internet connection. Many people are ditching the nation’s pricey urban real estate markets and high rent rates in favor of low-interest mortgages and single-family homes with outdoor living space. Post-pandemic, I believe we’ll see a continued increase in Americans living where they want to live, not where they have to live.
#4 Greater appreciation for face-to-face communication
Finally, we all have a greater appreciation for face-to-face communication after the lockdowns of Spring — Summer 2020. Time spent with friends or family is cherished more now than ever, as a gathering is often something that requires more thought and intention. We no longer take for granted the socialization that we enjoy, even if it’s as simple as enjoying a walk outside with a friend.
We all have been changed and will continue to change. But as Maya Angelou said, we won’t be reduced by it. Rather, we will rise to meet the new challenges and our new way of life, thriving in the process.