The New Norm Coming Into Focus

The novelty of working from home is over. Oh, so over.

“Sometimes I look up at the computer screen during a video conference and wonder who the old guy that looks like my aunt Thelma is,” said a friend. “Then I realize it is me.”

Video conferencing might only be the tip of the sword.

The COVID-19 crisis is changing our lives in profound ways. If this is a disruption, then it is one akin to a tectonic behavioral shifting occurring within a generational gap. And if most of us experienced the coming of the internet, 9/11, and the Great Financial Crisis of 2009, this event is an attention-getter.

As medically dangerous the COVID-19 crisis is, the forced change in behavior could forever warp how we manage our days. And maybe there are a few positive takeaways.

My wife and I are getting to know each other in ways similar to when we first began dating. Without the constant pressure of having to be somewhere, we find ourselves sitting and talking more. One night we played a game of naming restaurants from our childhoods until the other called uncle. And with most, came a story or memory to share.

I’ve also learned my back might be able to survive multiple workouts a week, but whoever imagined doing a 1,000-piece puzzle would wreak havoc on my spine?

One morning I finished up a video call and realized I was wearing the clothes I’d slept in the night before. How did this happen to someone who is rather particular about his wardrobe and hair? If this is the future, I’m not sure I want to play. I genuinely enjoy a well-tailored suit, sharply pressed shirt and matching tie, and colorful pocket square.

This week another friend joked they’d put on 10 pounds.

“We better hope this does not turn into the COVID-19,” I said.

As much as I try to stick to my exercise routine, I’m beginning to think it might not be the dryer’s fault that my pants are barking.

On the other side of this, I am relearning to read music, reading more books, and carving out moments where I suddenly ask myself, “where did all these birds in the trees show up.”

The Wall Street Journal reports Americans are working more hours than ever during this chapter of work-from-home. On average, people are working up to 3 hours more a day – something I can personally attest. Days start early and run long.

Psychologists point to habits being taking root after 14-days. I’ve lost track. Some days I the only clue I have on what day of the week it is the little letter embossed atop my morning pillbox.

Suddenly I feel naked at the grocery store without a mask. When watching television and someone touches a door handle, I wonder wiped down recently. And a clip of a baseball game crowd doing the wave seems like a lifetime ago.

The world is changing. I guess I can, too.


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