Almost a year after the pandemic began to sweep the US, forcing lockdowns and beginning the stressful, chaotic year that saw a staggering death toll and massive rises in unemployment, we are still dealing with COVID-19. Although the presence of vaccines has certainly helped abate individual’s concerns over potential infection, the lengthy wait to receive the vaccine coupled with the toll yearlong uncertainty has taken still leaves much for society to stress about. And even though the shift to mostly remote, socially distanced living was a harsh blow to many, being able to carry on with everyday life as uninterrupted as possible due to technology made 2020 bearable. However now, since vaccines are available, most companies and schools are beginning to resume normal operations, which include returning to an in-person environment. While this is a welcome change, as many as emergency departments throughout the United States saw increases in suicide attempts, substance overdoses, domestic violence, and child abuse throughout 2020 (Holland et al., 2020), there are still many individuals who feel it is too early to resume our pre-COVID-19 lifestyle.
Although anxiety about reentering typical social life is to be expected after such a long period of isolation, this becomes problematic when individuals are forced by workplaces and/or educational environments to make a sudden switch from virtual to face-to-face. While some employers found that having employees work remotely was more efficient than providing an in-person work environment, and state they will continue to offer remote positions, others are anxious to get employees back in the office due to concerns over losing company culture and maintaining colleague collaborations (PwC, 2021). Similarly, educational institutions are eager to resume normal operations since many children require face-to-face interaction to learn and do not come from stable homes. However, some children, as well as college students, have benefited greatly from remote learning, and it seems reasonable for secondary schools and universities to continue allowing students to choose whether they would like to receive educational services virtually or in-person for the foreseeable future. All in all, the past year has been a time of great adaptation for everyone and taking students’ and employees’ feelings about reentry into consideration seems a small price for companies and institutions to pay to help reduce already high stress levels.
Holland, K. M., Jones, C., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Idaikkadar, N., Zwald, M., Hoots, B., Yard, E., D’Inverno, A., Swedo, E., Chen, M. S., Petrosky, E., Board, A., Martinez, P., Stone, D. M., Law, R., Coletta, M. A., Adjemian, J., Thomas, C., Puddy, R. W., Peacocok, G., Dowling, N. F., & Houry, D. (2020). Trends in US emergency department visits for mental health, overdose, and violence outcomes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Psychiatry, E1-E8. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.4402
PwC. (2021). US remote work survey. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/covid-19/us-remote-work-survey.html