Society changed quite fundamentally during the outbreak - some things for the worse, but many for the better.
With the old 'rona seeming to slow down in the Grand Duchy as of late, and the government rolling back many of its associated restrictions, the time has come to take stock of some of the changes that either seem here to stay... or at least would be, if I had my introvert way.
1) The obvious: home office
I was surprised to see, at first, quite a few people on the old social interweb saying how much they were struggling working from home - some as early as just a few days in. If you have kids it is of course a different matter, but many of these voices were folk who simply seemed to miss the office.
Don't get me wrong, I quite like my office too (and if my bosses are reading, I miss them with my whole heart - y'all lovely. How's the budget talks for next year going? I reckon I've done a fine job this year!). In warmer months I also enjoy the 'forced' exercise of cycling in, rather than just plonking my ever-growing posterior onto the nearest seat and whipping out my laptop.
But, there are advantages to at least having the flexibility of working from home - both for businesses and employees. I think a lot of us have shown that productivity doesn't, as the executive management class have feared, drop immediately if us lower-downs are allowed to work remotely. Without revealing all too much, RTL Today's numbers have soared over the last few months. Of course this is in large parts because of the pandemic, but we've also outpaced competition despite a smaller team and fewer resources.
Our team, not least the 'junior' freelance members, did a fantastic job. Their commitment to the team and what we do has, if anything, grown, as everyone volunteered to take on more responsibilities, work longer hours, and typed at ferocious speed to ensure our readers had the latest information.
Prior to working for RTL, I held another (awful) job which was 99% home-based. I'd never been in that situation before, and if anything I found that my productivity was far higher than it would have been if I'd been based in the corporate offices - in fact, I tended to get through far more work than those who were. Not because I was better, they were all excellent at what they did, but because I didn't want people thinking I was slacking off due to being, essentially, unsupervised. Still, working from home meant I could walk the dogs when they needed to go out, prepare dinner before the mrs came home, and generally take care of little chores when things were quiet. While the job sucked, the lifestyle was brilliant.
2) Social distance
I told you from the start that I'm writing this as an introvert... and here's some evidence to back that up. I enjoy the fact that we have more space right now. I use public transport a lot in normal times, and have gone back to using it now and again over the last couple of weeks.
To think that things can stay as they are is of course wishful utopian thinking: fewer people are using public transport, and when more of them return space will again be limited. But for the time being, there's no sitting or standing on top of each other, no one sneezing down your neck as you stand clustered together in the aisles of the train.
Even beyond public transport, I enjoy the fact that people are respecting personal distance more. As someone who is not only a natural introvert, but also Scandinavian (where we've grown accustomed to having a tonne of personal space and thus become yet more introverted), I despise when people needlessly stand too close, or don't give enough space to others in supermarkets, etc., etc.
I love y'all, but I'd rather do so from a distance.
3) The demise of the dreaded 'three kisses'
Again, massive introvert here, but the thing I found hardest to get used to upon moving here was the three-kiss greeting. With my Scandi-Scottish background, a firm handshake is about a close as I'm comfortable getting with people unless I know them very well indeed. Over the years I've softened slightly, and can stretch to a hug even with relatively new acquaintances.. but only under certain circumstances.
Arriving in the GD I found myself with strangers faces thrust directly at mine, their surprisingly agile necks propelling their mouths first to this side of my head, then that, and back where it started. Having never in my life engaged in this sort of greeting, I at first stood frozen and confused. Even once I understood the pattern, I found that I simply couldn't build up the speed required to avoid unintentionally headbutting them, or coming dangerously close to giving them a full snog.
I've been here a few years now, and my neck muscles are leaner than ever. I've just about mastered the whole kissy ping-pong greeting thing, but I still have a fundamental disliking of it.
I, for one, would be happy for it to never return.
4) No forced socialisation
I realise I'm really going down a path here... but hear me out. In normal times I found that I'd often be engaged in somewhat forced social gatherings - 'friends' or acquaintances you don't really want to hang out with, nor they with you, but both parties feel somewhat pressured into 'doing something' in an effort to maintain the vague outline of a friendship. As someone with a lot of projects to work on in my spare time, I find this an utter waste of time.
The 'rona has put a stop to this, and if I see people now, it's because I actually really do want to hang out with them, and not because it feels like something we have to do. It allows us all to focus on the relationships we actually want to maintain or build upon, while letting the others slowly fade into obscurity - and I think we'll all be better off for it.
5) The rise of DIY
Finally, it's become a bit of a trope that everyone is baking banana bread, working on their sourdough skills, or puttering about the house making little improvements by themselves. This is possibly the best change of them all. I think it's great to see that people are putting time into improving their cooking skills, learning how to put up a fence, taking the time to try their hands at a spot of gardening, learning how to code or a new language, whatever it may be. It's rare that we take this time out for ourselves to do something we normally think we don't have time for, whether that's true or just down to priorities.
Life-long learning y'all, it's the bee's knees.
Has the pandemic brought about any changes you think are positive, or indeed negative? Have you learned a new skill? Any thoughts at all.. let us know below.