By Cynthia Cruz
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had devasting effects across the globe. The ongoing pandemic has negatively impacted our health, economies, social relationships, and much more. The threat of serious illness forced humanity to abruptly change the way we lived and as we learned to navigate the new world, we evolved. Our homes are also now our offices, classrooms, and gyms, and phrases like social distancing, lockdowns, and community testing have become common vernacular. And after a year and a half since it all began, we are starting to see a turn. As vaccinations rise, and cases drop, the world is beginning to go back to normal —old normal — and as it does, I cannot help but think about some of the practices, that were adopted because of the pandemic, that I hope will stay long after it is over.
In an effort to control the spread of the virus and protect our community, whilst still surviving themselves, businesses had to find creative ways to reach their customers. My personal favorite is the regular implementation of curbside pickup. This allows customers to safely pick up their pre-ordered items from participating restaurants, retailers, pharmacies, and more. The idea is not a new one, but because of COVID-19, it became the preferred method to purchase goods and at times, it was the only safe method. This strategy is not only convenient for the customers, for obvious reasons, but also does not cost the business much more to operate. It’s a win-win that needs to stay in practice.
The other practice that should live on post-pandemic is virtual video conferencing. Platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams have kept us connected through a screen when a physical connection was sadly not an option. The way people have adapted to using these types of software, for numerous situations, has been very impressive and if you have ever attended a virtual rosary or a baby shower, then you know what I am talking about. In a professional setting, virtual video conferencing has helped businesses to continue operations by providing effective alternatives to traditional office arrangements. At the height of the pandemic, in many organizations, Zoom replaced company-wide meetings, new product trainings, and even celebratory occasions, like the annual Christmas party.
Virtual video conferences have also been a great tool for human resources professionals. A friend of mine recently started a new job. She shared how she was onboarded virtually and actually preferred the experience more than the conventional process. For her, the process was more streamlined compared to having a large group go into a classroom setting and spend the entire day there watching training videos. With Zoom, they did fun virtual activities and used the breakout feature to split into smaller groups. She also found that being in the comfort of home helped ease what can be a stressful transition of meeting new people and starting a new job.
COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, but as scientists and healthcare professionals develop more ways to combat the virus, things will slowly revert to the way they were before, but I hope that it never does fully. Through the peril, the opportunity to imagine, create, and grow has risen. The time for change may have been imposed, but many good things have come of it, like curbside pickup and virtual video conferences, to name a very few. Let us not leave these things behind, but continue to develop these practices and improve our lifestyles and operations for the future. mbj