Monday, December 14, 2020

The Things We Carry Forward

To quote that Tiktok, the pandemic isn't over just because you're over it.  But we are in a place, after a lot of logistics, that we can imagine that maybe by this time next year, we will be emerging from the pandemic.  And so it is too soon for many things, but I've been thinking a bit about the things we want to learn and carry forward, and those we do not.  One of the things when RWA imploded last year that I said to a lot of folks, is the hard work you did (if you did) wasn't wasted.  The fact that folks mobilized to take steps to correct things, happened because people recognized that what was happening was wrong.  Not all of them, of course.  But enough.  And there are plenty of people who think everything is fine now, because new leadership, and now the President-elect is a Black woman, so it's all fixed.  Racism is gone now.  Spoiler alert, racism is not gone now.  Not in RWA, not elsewhere.
So, the pandemic.  I wrote a lot at the beginning about what working remotely is really like.  But, a lot of people have discovered a lot more jobs can be done remotely.  And so here is an unofficial list of some of the things that I would like to see remain from this experience.  
-Don't go places if you feel sick.  Now there are caveats of course.  As someone with chronic allergies myself, I have sneezed or coughed, or both, every day of this pandemic.  (Nothing like an upper respiratory pandemic to really make you aware of that.)  So sure, don't go nowhere ever just because you have a chronic condition. But if you have a cold, don't sneeze on your friends and co-workers because it's just a cold.  Wear masks.  Warn people you are under the weather so they can take their own proactive steps.  
-Similarly, I hope companies really take a look at leave policies and our culture around sick days.  Sick days should be days spent not checking email, not attending calls.  And if your company can't live without that person for twenty four or more hours, that's a staffing problem. 
-Let's all keep washing our hands and hand sanitizing a lot. We can all make keeping ourselves and others safer a priority. 
-Telework is only cheaper for the company, not the employee.  There are also tax implications.  You need to pay employees with that understanding.  
-Speaking of pay, it turns out a lot of people we might not have considered previously important parts of our functioning society are.  
 -Everyone deserves access to food. 
-Everyone deserves access to healthcare
-The governing decisions made at local levels are important.  But the purpose of a federal system is so that each of us in not reliant on the hope that the jurisdiction next to us isn't making reckless or unsafe choices.  
-Parks matter.
-Libraries matter.  
-When gatherings such as committees, worship, and conferences are held online, it can allow greater access to folks around the world. Folks who even in a time of travel would not be able to make it. 
-Similar to the telework thing, just because your special guests and speakers do not need to travel, does not mean their time isn't valuable.  
This list is only a start.  But it seemed useful to start thinking about the things I want to carry forward, so I can keep an eye out for attempts to roll them back.  

Edited to correct typos.