Everyone is happy to say good riddance to 2020, but it's not quite over yet. How will our lives be different post-COVID-19
? When is it safe to plan? Here are some thoughts from various experts (with a few of my own opinions sprinkled in):
Will we ever go back to our offices? There are mixed opinions on this. Some people have enjoyed working from home (and would enjoy it more if they didn't have kids at home doing school work virtually...), and others that can't wait to get back to the office. This has been a time for management that was skeptical about letting employees work from home see whether it works for their organization or particular department. Most say the future may hold some kind of hybrid: a couple days a week in the office, and the rest flexible time at home. This may mean the end of offices or dedicated cubes and more temporary desks or work spaces to use while you're at the office. Others find that it's not necessary to go back to the office at all.
Are we done shaking hands? I personally hope so. It used to make me cringe during regular cold and flu season, let alone in a pandemic. Hopefully the art of the "firm handshake" will fall by the wayside and we can just greet each other with a "hello". I'm thinking in the near future anyway, it will become more acceptable to skip the handshake.
When will it be safe to travel, go to a concert or other crowded area? The consensus is, when at least 75% of the population has been vaccinated. Dr. Fauci says he'll feel better about eating inside a restaurant when about 50% have been vaccinated. (And will probably still be in masks - see the next point):
Will we be in masks forever? Not forever, but probably through most of 2021 at least. It will still make sense to wear a mask in crowded areas and when traveling, even after most of the population has been vaccinated. Because we've been wearing masks most of the year, it will become more common place with less stigma attached. Many people have realized that, not only have they not contracted COVID-19, but they also haven't contracted colds or other less lethal but still annoying diseases. The science works. People who are enjoying fewer illnesses will still probably wear masks in crowded areas.
Can we keep Zoom meetings after COVID-19? I'm a Baby Boomer, so I will always opt for an in-person meeting when possible, but many have found that Zoom meetings are truly the next best thing. Company leaders are discovering that Zoom and similar platforms make person-to-person discussions possible without the expense and time commitments of travel. A Zoom or FaceTime meeting still allows us to detect body language and facial cues that aren't possible over the phone. On a personal level, I've been able to connect with friends in other states via Zoom during COVID-19 shutdowns...we're wondering why we never thought of it before! Zoom and FaceTime will be especially helpful for families during the Holidays when traveling is difficult and dangerous.
Experts predict that we're in for more of the same in 2021, at least into mid-summer. Dr. Fauci says the fastest way to get to a new normal is to take the vaccine as soon as it's available to you. Dr. Dan Culver, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic says we should temper our expectations:
there is light at the end of the tunnel, but there's an awful lot of tunnel left.
Stay safe and healthy. Make good, informed decisions about getting together with family and friends over the next few months. How awful it would be to contract Coronavirus after all we've been through this year, just when vaccines are a few months away.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Holiday season and Happy New Year!