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We’ve got to prepare for a post-COVID world

How our mindsets are shifting post-pandemic

Stacked of Stones Outdoors

An opinion piece by Douglas James

When I started my journey as a freelancer way back in 2013, it was from both necessity and frustration. Personal health reasons meant traditional work environments wouldn’t work for me. At the same time, I was attempting to shift into another minimum wage position. Given the paltry hours and “entry level” work, it shouldn’t have been too hard, but I was met with lots of loops and hoops which, frankly, turned me away from it altogether.

I thought, “well, I’ve done some freelancing, I’ll go all-in here.” That was my first introduction to the nature of remote working. I’m mentioning it, because, it’s interesting to see how views have changed on it, along with remote working’s total necessity.

Depending on who you ask, for instance, remote working held a particular stigma. Often it was seen as “not a real job,” especially freelancing. You know, because you weren’t beholden to the typical drudgery and hours associated with “jobs,” that was bad. But today? Not only has remote working grown (and by proxy freelancing), it’s likely going to be the new normal.

What’s changed in the work world?

It’s been interesting writing about tech subjects while the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the globe. And, as of this writing, new variants and outbreaks continue to give people understandable anxiety. Talking about trends while a meteor is exploding behind you feels pretty detached from reality. So when I ask “what’s changed,” I think we all know what: a global pandemic. In my thus short 31 years, I’ve never seen anything like it. We’ve had outbreaks before, from Bird Flu to Ebola, but in recent memory not on this scale.

Because of that, I feel comfortable looking at the world in halves now: pre and post-COVID. Buckle up, because you’re living in a history page. COVID came in and shook the crib, jumpstarting a lot of developments that were likely years away from the mainstream. Once again, remote working falls in this category.

Heck, remote everything. From socialization to education, hundreds of thousands of people were now going through the motions at home, on a screen. I saw my chosen career path go from a niche concept to a mainstream solution.

What will happen?

I remember this obscure line from a not-so-well-known movie from a funny clown guy. He said: “there’s no going back, you’ve changed things. Forever.”

While I know this sounds dramatic, as I write this, even the Olympics have, in some fashion, been affected by the Coronavirus. It’s hard, and not easy to accept, but there really is no going back. Now, I’m not suggesting there won’t be a return to a level of normalcy and “comfort” we experienced before the outbreak. But once we went from zero to actual vaccine infrastructure in the beginning of 2021, there was a glimmer that finally things were getting under control.

Just in time for summer, too, right? Thank goodness! Vacation, fun, friends! We could put the nightmare behind us!

And then COVID cases started to surge elsewhere in the world, along with a few new variations.

It’s something that can leave you crestfallen. I get it, everyone was ready to just move on. Healthcare workers are burnt out, people are tired of screaming at COVID-denial and vaccine misinformation, and the whole of it became needlessly complicated. It’s still needlessly complicated.

I think what I’m trying to emphasize here is mentally priming ourselves for a real shift in how the world will go. Ranging from healthcare precautions to technology shifts, and of course, the way we perform our jobs. It’s abundantly clear, for instance, how powerful and necessary the need for agile, flexible remote solutions really are.

Maintaining a positive outlook

There’s definitely a lot of things today that leads us down the pipeline of “doom think.” From COVID to climate disaster, mixed in with a sense of isolation brought on by remote working, despair makes for easy company.

Naturally, though, that’s the wrong way to go about it. Isolation instilled from remote working can easily lead to thoughts of sadness and depression. Coupled with the unknowns brought about by COVID, giving way to bleak thoughts is understandable.

Now I’m suggesting you can’t feel sad or, at the least, a little cynical. That’s normal. “Just be happy” is perhaps one of the worst lines of advice you can tell anyone. But, it’s important not to fall into despair so readily, either.

Understand that, not only are you not alone, the shift into a “post-COVID” world isn’t inherently a bad thing. It’s a lesson, really, about how we as a society respond to serious pandemics (not very well, it looks like).

Like I’ve said in another post about mental health, keep these things in mind:

  • Maintain a good habit of sleep, try to exercise regularly, and mind your diet
  • Socialize and talk with people, online or otherwise
  • Think about remote working as a new normal versus the exception, and learn how you can take advantage of it

We’re entering a new time where remote working will continue to advance as the norm. There’s no going back, really, but that isn’t a bad thing.

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