Is it even possible for life to go back to “normal” after COVID-19 passes? In today’s episode, Danielle discusses how the pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to see what the world — and our lives — should look like after this unprecedented time passes, and how the coronavirus will impact the future of work, of our country, and of the world as a whole.
Hey everyone, and thanks for joining me today. I hope that wherever you are, you are staying sane, safe, and healthy.
I am currently recording from the comfort of my own home, while sipping on an adult beverage and supporting local. I’m drinking the brand new Hard Seltzer from Eight & Sand Brewery in Woodbury, New Jersey.
Their normal operations are obviously currently closed, however they are doing online ordering and curbside pickups. So if you’re local, feel free to check out all their delicious craft beer at eight (e-i-g-h-t)and sand (s-a-n-d)beer dot com.
My wife Shea and I go Eight & Sand often to do work for our business when we need a change of scenery. Right now, we’re doing whatever we can to support the small, local businesses we love so when this is all over, their doors can remain open — that is, of course, pending that Shea doesn’t murder me before this whole thing is over.
Anyway, we’ve been officially in quarantine for a month now, give or take. Everything is different, and the days are beginning to blur together.
This is (knock on wood) a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s my belief that it will be impossible for the world to go back to normal after this.
So I wanted to use today’s episode to talk through what I think will change, and I want to do that through the lens of three categories:
- How the future of work will change.
- The future of our country
- The future of our world and of humanity as a whole.
Like you, I’ve been keeping track of this scary mess since day one. Probably over-consuming, if I’m being honest. And I came across an interesting quote from a Medium article that said:
“What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views.. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped.”
What we’re experiencing right now, is a societal reset. And what occurs after quarantine has lifted is up to us – the collective whole of humanity. Because, remember, this is a worldly event.
This is our chance, our rare opportunity, to define a new version of normal.
To rebuild and become more empathetic and humane.
To get rid of all of the bullshit that we’ve been told about “the way things have to work” or “the way things are supposed to be” or “how we must operate as a society to be as efficient and successful and humane as possible.”
So first, let’s talk about what the future of work will look like.
In the blink of an eye, millions of people are unemployed, particularly those in the service, food and beverage, and hospitality industries.
Millions more have adjusted from in-person to remote environments, juggling the demands of work and childcare at the same time.
And millions more are those essential and literally keeping our society afloat – healthcare workers, grocery workers, teachers, small business owners, mailmen and women, and the list goes on. And I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU – if you are someone who works in these essential industries, I am in awe and humbled by everything you’re doing right now.
So, taking all of this into consideration, how should we re-approach work?
I’ll start with the easy one:
We need to push for the restructuring of what we used to know as the “traditional work environment.”
I’m talking about working remotely, flexible hours, and even shortened workweeks as our future.
We’ve now proven that every single boss who said you had to come into the office to do your job effectively, for a set duration, in between very specific hours, was lying.
Lots of office workers are now doing their jobs from home, during offset hours, in even less time, because they’re juggling homeschooling, childcare, and their everyday responsibilities on top of completing what they need to for work.
And somehow, many executive-level and c-suiters have rediscovered their humanity. They’re allowing for more flexibility, some even understanding that people are likely going to need an immediate break to decompress when all of this is over and offering extra vacation time as a result. Where was this empathy and compassion before?
It should continue this way – allowing for remote work and greater flexibility not only shows employees that they are valued and different work ethics recognized, but also puts more money back into their pockets by eliminating commuting costs AND could even save the company money by decreasing pricey office rent, utility, and equipment costs.
We should all be paying close attention to the companies who are treating their employees exceptionally well, and the ones who are putting their people in harm’s way for the sake of profit, both during AND after this crisis.
What we’re seeing now – is the little guys are the ones who keep the lights on. It’s always been that way. Which leads me to the second thing I believe needs to change when it comes to the future of work — and this one also ties into the future of our country, which I’ll expand on in a bit:
We need to take better care of younger people and the historically disregarded jobs they hold.
I want to look at this one through the lens of millennials, since I am one, and since my generation has been through some shit.
We’ve now lived through 9/11, a war, two economic crashes, a reality show clown for a president, crippling student loan debt, a climate crisis, AND a pandemic. And I’m only 31, y’all.
People my age have literally never gained the financial security that other generations have enjoyed. Many of us entered the workforce around 2008, which was terrible timing considering our economy was in shambles.
Because of this, many millennials entered into the service positions that are now affected most – people in my generation make up the majority of bartenders, half of restaurant workers, and a significant share of retail workers, the gig economy, and freelancers and consultants.
Right now, we’re supposed to be entering what is considered our “peak earning years” in the midst of yet another economic crisis. But we don’t have the luxury of a financial cushions to weather catastrophes like this. We already don’t have a savings account; we can’t purchase homes or invest our money into anything substantially profitable like real estate; we can’t afford going back to school, starting a business, or even helping our families.
And even more so impacted are minorities.
We need to make sure these historically disregarded groups are well taken care of after this is over.
I think this is a good segue into my second category:
What the future of our country should look like.
I think coronavirus has revealed some serious fundamental flaws in our society. Namely, who we are as a country, and what we value.
I’m not going to spend time getting overly political today – trust me, I have some strong opinions. I already knew this, but the biggest flaw that is now CRYSTAL clear is that our political system values money over human life.
First, let’s chat healthcare.
We literally have millions of people now out of work whose health insurance was directly tied to their employer and they no longer have it in a time they might desperately need it. Like, literally, their life might depend on it.
I’ve said this in previous episodes, but I believe in universal healthcare. I think people having access to quality healthcare is a basic human right. People shouldn’t have to choose between going to work and keeping themselves healthy.
People don’t just need access to healthcare during a pandemic, though. This is the reality for millions of people, on any normal, healthy day. But our politicians would rather mingle with pharmaceutical companies who contribute bookoo campaign dollars than act with actual human decency. Legislation is quickly changing to support telemedicine and teletherapy, which they said couldn’t be done before due to HIPAA. COVID-19 should be a catalyst for lasting change in these areas.
Next, let’s look at other areas of legislation that are changing.
First, I want to call attention to Wisconsin. They held their voting primary, as scheduled…in-person. Forcing the state’s residents to choose between their health and civic duty, in what will probably be one of the most important elections of my lifetime.
Now, let’s shift focus to Virginia. The Virginia Governor signed a series of new legislation that will establish Election Day as a holiday, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot and, expand early voting to be allowed 45 days before an election without a stated reason.
Let’s use this as an opportunity to change how we vote. We should be allowing for mail-in voting, national holidays, even considering election months.The things that will truly strengthen our democracy and enable more voices to be heard.
Voting is a fundamental right, but we won’t see Election Day become a federal holiday any time soon. But what COVID-19 is doing, is revealing a harder line between local, state, and federal legislation – and the changes that can occur at smaller levels that will wind up having a much bigger impact.
Which leads me to my next thought about the future of our country:
People are paying attention now more than ever to what matters.
First, we’ve seen how quickly political action is possible. It turns out that policies that our elected officials told us were impossible or impractical were actually possible and practical all along, as long as it’s considered urgent enough, or as long as it supports a population the government hasn’t long-disregarded.
For example, some federal loans were suspended, with 0% interest during the suspension period, when we’ve been previously told that student loan forgiveness wasn’t possible.
We’re all getting one-time stimulus checks – some of us are able to defer rent and mortgages for a few months only to have to pay a lump sum of the total amount all at once, while the government mobilized multi trillion dollar bailouts for wall street and airlines.
We’re also seeing reports from around the world about our environment changing – reports of fish and dolphins returning to the Venice Canal, coyotes on the golden gate bridge, skies clear of pollution. Will this be the push that makes our government finally take climate change fucking seriously, by listening to the actual experts?
People are paying attention in new ways. For a really long time, people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts. I’m talking objective, evidence-based science and historical and geopolitical knowledge from experts. Not CNN’s or Fox News’ poorly researched, shit-stirring interpretations and opinions of a tweet.
I hope this spurs the majority of people to recognize that the government – AKA the people we’ve elected and entrusted with protecting our health, preserving our liberties and overseeing our national security—need to be staffed with experts and not political loyalists looking to return favors and kiss each other’s asses.
I think this heightened sense of awareness is going to have drastic, pitchfork-type consequences for the people currently in charge, on both sides of the aisle.
To wrap this up before I move onto my final category, I’ll leave you with this quote:
“Most of all, we need to remember that public trust is crucial to governance—and that trust depends on telling the truth.”
Ok, I know that was a pretty heavy one…so I promise my final future prediction will be more positive.
Mark Cuban tweeted: When things are all messed up beyond recognition, that’s when the heroes step forward and create things, invent things and develop things that change the world. And that’s what’s needed right now. If you have a vision for America 2.0, now’s the time.
At its core, COVID-19 has given us the long-awaited break that we’ve been asking for, for quite some time.
My final future prediction is that this time will reveal what’s really important to each of us, and be a catalyst for more contribution, more connection, and more creativity for humanity as a whole.
I know I always talk about the million things I would accomplish, if only I had the time. We have the time…so now what?
We have a culture fueled by distraction. For some reason, our society glorifies optimizing our lives for peak performance, productivity, efficiency…and burnout.
But right now, we don’t have the luxury of distracting ourselves from our problems by going to the bar, or to the gym, or working late at the office.
We’re forced to just be. To sit with ourselves and our thoughts in the empty moments.
It’s scary actually, because so many of our vulnerabilities are coming to the surface — our pain, our shortcomings. But this unique time gives us an opportunity to face who we are, who we really are, and what we really prioritize and find important, when all else falls away.
We’re now connecting with our loved ones in ways we never have. We’re enjoying finishing the home projects that we swore we’d get to years ago. We’re going outside to simply enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air, and to move our bodies. We’re helping our neighbors and the people who need it most.
And I think that’s pretty fucking awesome.
I know this was a long one today, so if you made it to the end, I appreciate you sticking with me.
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I’ll leave you the same way I leave you every episode – don’t forget, life is short, so do your best to make it a darn good one.
Stay safe, my friends.