Risk Services Of Arkansas - June 2020

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On the Subject of Change and Human Nature

Has the world changed forever? As we dealt with the dangers and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that was the question many people were asking. When we were in the thick of the pandemic, it certainly felt like a huge change. Unlike most states, Arkansas didn’t issue a statewide stay-at-home order — I’ll save my opinion about these orders for one-on-one conversations. However, even without the order, daily life for us came almost to a standstill. My wife and I were still going to work, but restaurants and bars were closed, gyms were shut down, and hair salons had locked their doors. I get my haircut every three weeks, so by late April, after two missed appointments, I am about ready to put my hair in a ponytail! In early April, schools were also closed across the state for the rest of the school year, and one of the saddest things for me personally was watching my stepdaughter lose the spring semester of her senior year in high school. My recollection is that the last semester was the best part of high school. Overall, I had a great time in high school, but that last semester was nothing but enjoying golf and baseball seasons, blowing off classes, and going to parties and prom. It’s the great last chapter before taking that leap into quasi-adulthood. Unfortunately, the world has definitely changed for this class of kids who won’t ever get to have those memories or, for some, even a graduation ceremony.

As I write this in late April, there’s no clear idea of how long this thing will get dragged out. While kids are missing out on school, their parents are losing their jobs (and their sanity). Over 25 million people have been forced to file for unemployment. Even if most of these folks are able to get their jobs back once the virus passes, that could leave a long-lasting impact. As for the people lucky enough to keep their jobs, a lot of them have had to adapt to working remotely for a month or two. Some people have suggested that remote work may become the new norm. I’m not sure I agree with that. For most businesses, I don’t believe that working from home is the most productive option. This isn’t to say people aren’t working hard when they work remotely, but I think you lose out on the synergy, the energy and the camaraderie of a good office culture. It’s also important to acknowledge the fact that most people aren’t working from home; they’re working at home under duress during a crisis. That’s very different from being able to choose to work remotely. Over the last few months, so many things have changed, but human nature is not one of them. It might take a while, maybe until there’s a treatment or a vaccine, but once things go back to normal, I think most of us will be happy to jump back into our prior routines. People will be able to find jobs and go back to the office, kids will be back in school, restaurants will be thriving, and we’ll all be able to spend time together again ... maybe even at a football game! No, I don’t think COVID-19 has changed the world forever. I, for one, am really looking forward to hitting the gym, going out to eat at a restaurant, and getting a haircut — not necessarily in that order.

“One of the saddest things for me personally was watching my stepdaughter lose the spring semester of her senior year.”

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