Greetings from the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Yesterday, I set out to our local Wegman’s for a big grocery run. And as you can see, I dressed appropriately for COVID-19 Coronavirus Crisis Era food shopping.
I have two insights to share about my experience:
- I have the greatest respect for everyone who keeps the world fed while the rest of us remain at home. Grocery workers log long hours on the job and do so at great risk to their physical and mental health.
- I am truly disappointed by how badly shoppers comply with the rules of social distancing. Stores like Wegman’s place bright yellow tape on their floors to show people what six feet of separation looks like. Still, few people followed the rules putting shoppers, all of those grocery workers, and me at great risk.
Humans are not conditioned to exchange their bad habits for good ones.
But, we will have no choice but to pivot to the rapid change forced upon us during work, because, we are never returning to many of the ways that things used to be.
I am no futurist, but, here are 5 things that I am quite certain will disappear in the future of work:
- Handshaking. Now that Dr. Tony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health has ingrained in us the importance of frequent hand-washing, he may as well go a step further and ban us all from shaking hands. What replaces the time-honored greeting and deal-sealer is yet to emerge, but I am fairly comfortable in saying that most people will, after this crisis ends, avoid shaking hands.
- Neckties. Members of [former presidential candidate] Andrew Yang‘s Yang Gang, rejoice! Last week, Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he ordered his cabinet secretaries to stop wearing neckties. As a practicing physician, Gov. Northam knows that neckties are like dirty sponges that harbor a lot of germs. Casual Fridays started the decline of necktie-wearing, but I think COVID-19, not the Yang Gang, will end it.
- The 40-hour work week. Our forced labor done from home has realigned our days to include home-schooling and family activities. When the “all clear” ends social-distancing, the century-old model of working an 8-hour workday, 5 days a week, will not survive. Most of us will embrace the variety of experiences that resulted when we worked a blended workday and work week.
- Status Meetings Lasting Longer than 15 Minutes. Our home-detention has also forced upon us severe time-management constraints. The days are now full of interruptions from competing constituencies, and yet we must remain laser-beam-focused on our key deliverables. So, when we do return to more traditional work settings, I believe that status meetings lasting longer than 15 minutes will go bye-bye, and
- Mindlessness. At some point, we will end home quarantine eager to return to our friends’ and co-workers’ close proximity. Social distancing has made our hearts grow fond. As a result, I believe that flippancy, brusqueness, and mindlessness will disappear. But, as our guest on this week’s episode of The Tightrope Adrienne Shoch believes, all engagements will benefit from the practice of mindfulness to better connect us with all of the people that we engage with each day. And that is a good thing.
Our best days lie ahead.
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DAN SMOLEN is founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC. He is also the executive producer and host of The Tightrope Meaningful Work Podcast. Please comment here to let us know how we are doing, and, to offer suggestions for future guests and topics.
Media credits: Shopping self-portrait, Dan Smolen.