A quick recap: We thought 2020 was horrific with lockdowns, sheltering in place, and online learning. Then in 2021, we became vaccinated and were a bit lax on wearing masks. And the fun continued: The Delta variant brought booster vaccines, more mask mandates, and the Omicron variant.
What will happen in 2022? It’s weird to think back on the pandemic giving rise to panic and fear. We hoarded toilet paper and found out that we weren’t immune to scarcity. Even now, grocery stores aren’t at full capacity due to supply chain issues. We have been humbled – Americans want what they want, when they want it, and we have been brought down a peg or two.
Now, let’s look on the bright side. Here are 8 ways our lives have been changed for the better due to Covid-19:
Before Covid-19, many of us took our families for granted. When we couldn’t see each other, we realized how much we missed interacting on a daily basis. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey found that 52 percent of the American population between ages 18 and 29 were living with parents, a figure unmatched since the Great Depression. From February to July 2020, 2.6 million young adults moved back with one or both parents.
Family members turned to technology with texting, FaceTime, Snapchat, and Zoom videos to stay engaged. According to Statista, there was a significant increase in the average time U.S. users spent on social media in 2020: 65 minutes daily, compared to 54 minutes and 56 minutes the years before.
Connect with friends and coworkers
We’ve all been in this pandemic together – we have a shared experience that allows us to bond over Zoom calls, FaceTime, and social media content. We’re able to go to the office, work remotely, gather at bars and restaurants, socialize at home, and blow off some steam. Great friends are there for us no matter what.
Work from anywhere
Covid-19 has made it possible to work from anywhere. As more flexible-workplace arrangements become permanent and communities adjust to them, businesses and organizations can offer enhanced quality of life for families and workers.
Remote work is here to stay. As companies assess whether or not to bring employees back into the office, remote workers hope they can continue to work from home.
McKinsey estimates that 20 to 25 percent of the workforce could work from home three to five days per week without any loss to productivity. Overall, remote workers have 50% less absenteeism, increased efficiency, and work at optimal performance. About 90% of employees believe that work from home increases morale, engagement, and their productivity.
Make health a priority
When the pandemic hit, we holed up in our homes to avoid contacting or spreading Covid-19. Many people, especially in the older population, were reticent to go out in public if they didn’t absolutely need to be out. But, it’s important to keep up on regular health check-ups and ongoing medical issues that should be seen to by a physician, dentist, or optometrist.
If you worked from home during 2020 and 2021, you may have become more sedentary. Working remotely meant that you might have become less active. The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles. Researchers have found that 7,000 to 8,000 daily steps is beneficial to your health.
And, walking for regular activity can also help reduce your risk of these prevalent health problems: Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.
Get back to nature
When you were young, did your mother tell you to go outside and get some fresh air? I assumed she just wanted me out of her hair, but I also think it’s good to be out in nature. Go on a walk or a hike. Check out the trees and flowers. Listen to the birds chirping, leaves blowing, and running water.
Telehealth may be the new normal
Telehealth is the intersection of technology and healthcare. Through phone and computer use, healthcare services and health information are more accessible than ever. Virtual healthcare has improved vastly and now includes access to patient portals, video and phone appointments, remote collaboration between clinicians, accessible health records, and much more.
Convenience and accessibility are huge drivers for the ongoing implementation of telehealth options. Along with these benefits is safety, which was magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology is here to stay
Zooming is definitely here to stay, along with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing companies.
The convenience factor of QR codes seems likely to keep their use going in many restaurants, bars and elsewhere, especially now that people are used to the idea of pulling up the codes on their phone. Businesses get to cut down on the amount of staff time devoted to each customer, while some consumers may appreciate the freedom to order at will and the simplicity of making individual orders.
Higher education most likely won’t return to all in-person semesters. The forced adoption of online learning has accelerated a trend for traditional universities to develop online degree programs and normalize hybrid models of teaching even among the most change-resistant parts of higher education, potentially increasing access for students in remote areas or who face other barriers to in-person education.
Voting by mail has been around in the United States for decades. It took a pandemic to make many Americans fearful of packing together in one location — such as a polling place. In 2020, a record high 46 percent of Americans cast a mail ballot, according to MIT Election Data + Science Lab, up from just 21 percent in 2016.
Make time for YOU time. Find a hobby that you like. Take a bubble bath. Read a book. Watch a TV show or movie on Netflix. Take a relaxing walk after dinner.
Do what makes you happy!