Happy New Year 2022! Once again it’s time for our annual activity of well-meaning New Year’s Resolutions, followed by the inevitable inability to sustain them for very long. I propose that we use the COVID 19 pandemic as the most powerful teaching moment of our lifetime as we make this year’s resolutions.
Chatham House is a world leading policy institute with a mission to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous, and just world. They state: “The pandemic has impacted every aspect of life, and sped up pre-existing trends in how people consume, work and travel—but will these dramatic shifts last?”
The world of work is being redefined. The value placed on different members of the workforce and supply chain is being reevaluated. There is more recognition of “key” workers and essential frontline staff from health and care workers to teachers, supermarket staff, and delivery drivers. Working from home has become standard for millions of employees, replacing daily commutes and meetings with flexible hours and conference calls.
Companies shut down at the start of the pandemic continue now, after a few years, to push back their projected “return to the office date.” Over time, however, companies continue to evaluate the relative productivity, worker social and mental satisfaction of at home versus in office activity. Perhaps a hybrid working model with a combination of remote workers and in office teams would be a workable compromise.
The world of retail has seen massive changes, some positive and some questionable. The incredible expansion of giants such as Amazon is an amazing example of technology, logistics, and organization such as we have never seen before. Their sheer volume and variety of product coupled with their accuracy and speed of delivery have completely changed the buying habits of many.
Without a pandemic it is doubtful that they would have attained their current size and power. It has been beneficial to some small businesses, also, who have linked their advertising and delivery options to Amazon. People caught in a lockdown or who are restricted from shopping due to illness, disability, life events, or simply choice, now have a convenient way to fill needs and wants. Retailers have stepped up their service to those populations, also, with increased online, curbside, delivery, and store pick-up options. Hopefully, they will “resolve” to continue those enormously helpful options.
Ecologically, the lockdowns and dramatically less work and leisure travel have shown us a path toward significant improvements in air and water quality, reduced pollution, and reduction in fossil fuel consumption. May we resolve to continue pursuing the research and development necessary to expand those efforts.
In the medical field, there has obviously been incredible progress in the research, development, and distribution of life saving vaccines in an amazingly short amount of time. There remains an uncertainty as to the prolonged efficacy and longevity of the vaccines. May the researchers, doctors, and financial supporters resolve to continue to prioritize those activities on an international basis to eliminate the pain, suffering, and death that this pandemic have caused.
Finally, personal relationships have shown some significant changes. In lockdown and shutdown many have had the opportunity to be more introspective. There are countless stories of how friends and families have become closer, more communicative with each other and sensitive to another’s needs. As we were stopped in our tracks and houses, so were we more likely to “stop and smell the roses.” May we continue to nurture those relationships.
I wish you a happy, healthy 2022, with fulfilled resolutions!