Memorial Day Weekend, in addition to a time of reflection and observance, is also a time when many of us look at our summer plans and figure out the next three months.
But like many of you, our summer plans have been cancelled. Kids aren’t going to camp. We’re not going on a trip. Even my annual ABA meeting — which I’ve done for over 15 years — has moved virtual.
On the flip side, I do see a lot more grilling in my future.
For employers, it’s a similarly challenging and strange time. In talking with people over the last week or so, I’m struck by how many people are not going back to the office anytime soon.
Some have said maybe Labor Day. One person told me it’ll be 2021 before he goes back; his office has realized how effective remote working can actually be.
The truth is there’s no playbook for what happens next. Clearly, restaurant and retail have been eager to reopen — and understandably so.
But offices? Less so, despite the Governor’s order allowing it in part.
In Connecticut, at least, this pandemic has really taken its toll on us.
As time drags on, the abnormal becomes normal. Until I went in late last night to pick up some things, it had been 10 weeks since I had been physically in my office. The elevator had markings of where to stand; masks are mandatory. And the office just felt weird. It’s as if time stood still from mid-March.
I miss certain things for sure and there are times when I don’t feel as productive. But those days are the exception now, not the rule. I can have my video chats, and can do all of my work from home. Online mediations are now becoming ever more common and over the next month or so, online depositions will start up in full force as it becomes painfully clear that in-person depositions should be avoided.
Will we go back when it is “safe” to do so? Perhaps. But some of these new habits will stick. For lawyers, I can see going into the office “when necessary” but otherwise working remotely may be the rule, not the exception. Video conferencing with the courts has already been implemented and we’ll see more — not less — of this in the coming months too.
For employers, think critically about how the workplace is going to look like in the next few months.
Chances are, what comes next is just something different.