Editor’s [re]Marks
by Drew Vass
March 25th, 2020

Will the Coronavirus Push us to do the Right Things?

It’s hard to find any outcomes to shed a positive light on these days. But if you look close enough, they’re there. Even if it’s a family game of Monopoly that wouldn’t have otherwise been played.

A couple of weeks ago, I started a list. It began with things like a shortage of paper products, which forced us to finally start using cloth napkins and reusable rags. It went on to include things like bringing high-speed internet to rural areas and telecommuting.

I’m writing down every little change that I think the coronavirus might force us to finally make—including some things that are long overdue (or at least I think so anyways). And I’ll be the first to admit that some are painful, or at least difficult to usher in, but now I’m hoping that some might take root.

I realize that this list is subjective, but I’m willing to bet I’m not alone with some of these.

Delivery of Groceries

Sure, we’ve always used it for things like pizza, but some of us have been reluctant to apply this to groceries. And why? My family orders online and picks up, but for some reason we’ve been afraid to let anyone bring groceries to our doorstep. Meanwhile, as Amazon looks to hire more than 100,000 workers, I expect they’re looking to make more Whole Foods deliveries.

Giving up Toilet Paper

You read that correctly. Yet, in some countries they might say, “What do you mean?” In some areas of Europe and Asia, they don’t even keep a roll within reach. Instead, they use “personal cleansing” devices, which are built into high-tech toilets and toilet seats. I’ve been as resistant to the idea as most Americans, but if you offered me one of those today? I’d probably take it.

Starbucks

Sorry to call it out by name, but what I really mean here is: spending $3 on coffee every day (or $5 even more than once per day). Let’s be honest, while Americans have fallen in love with coffee, you can invest in a decent at-home maker and with some basic skills make great cup for far (far) less.

Coming to Work Sick

In the past, it might have been considered rude (to do so). At the same time, I think you could argue that—in some work cultures, at least—instead of being shamed for sharing your cold, people feel ashamed not to show up, all in the name of productivity. Maybe we should have been tougher and more understanding about this all along?

Excessive Driving

Whether it’s making three trips to the hardware store, because you failed to consolidate trips, or driving separate when you could have easily carpooled—I think we’re all going to realize how guilty we are now that we have nowhere to go.

Education

Now that many of us are forced to take more active roles in education (in some cases, being forced to do all of it), will this force us to realize that we shouldn’t rely solely on teachers? Will it also force us to realize that we haven’t deployed enough technologies?

Social Media

As much as I hate to suggest it, could being quarantined make those of us who have been resistant more open to staying connected virtually?

High-Speed Internet

With the need to do things like order groceries online, do more online banking and provide remote education, will this be the final push that forces us to extend reliable, high-speed internet services to rural areas?

Telecommuting

I’ve been in the club for 13 years and it comes with its share of challenges. That said, I also think that we’re crazy for not extending the option (at least on a part-time basis) to as many as possible. The alternative includes paying for square footage and desk space, while requiring more people to drive back and forth every day.

Sick Pay Benefits

I’ve worked for employers who said they just couldn’t afford it and I’ve also worked for (and currently work for) employers who said they wouldn’t start a business until they could afford to pay for their employees’ health insurance, while also providing sick leave. Now, we’re asking folks to stay home if there’s any chance they might be sick, while they’re stressed about paying bills.

Remote Medical Services

I can’t believe the number of people who say they’re going this route recently and seem to be extremely pleased by it. And while for now this includes mainly video conferencing, the tools are out there to measure just about any vital remotely. This begs the question: Should we?

Lastly, I will say that while in the end I fall squarely in the camp of wanting everyone to live as absolutely long as possible, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m beginning to wonder if this goal clashes with our current means of living. On the other hand, maybe if we take this time to make and adjust to small changes, collectively some of these things might make a big difference. And that might just help to bring our goals within reach.



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