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Wednesday , 1 December 2021

Everyone ready to go?: A look at the future

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Asther Bascuña Creo
Asther Creo is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she’s lived for the last 15 years. Before that, she lived in Manila, Philippines, where she completed her Journalism degree from the University of the Philippines – Diliman. Asther works as communications professional in the daytime and is a mother to three and wife of a Catholic deacon. In November 2016, The Philippine Times published Asther’s first book Telling Stories. You can learn more about Asther on https://au.linkedin.com/in/asthercreo. Asther has been published in Kairos, Melbourne Catholic, Abbey of the Arts, and The Good Oil. She writes a column for The Philippine Times and has co-edited Climb the Mountain.

Everyone ready to go?

Victorians would be familiar with this line, as many of us tune in to Dan Andrews’ daily press conference about the effects of COVID-19 in our state. We tune in to news about the rise and fall of COVID cases, which we use to self-predict how restrictions would be eased or further tightened in the coming months. Nowadays many are thinking: Would we be able to gather by Christmas time?

The economic impact of the global pandemic has resulted in widespread loss of jobs, an uptick in cases of life harm among children, domestic violence and mental health issues among the majority of the population. The isolation, boredom, anxiety, low mood, etc, point to a general malaise that is truly palpable. It affects people of all backgrounds, gender and age. It is a virus that does not discriminate.

For those who are fortunate to still have jobs, while there is a general sense of gratitude, there is also a growing concern about what going back to a physical office looks like. I was reading an article from The New York Times this morning which headlined “Work may never be the same”. It reported that in a survey conducted of 1,123 remote workers by The Times and Morning Consult, 86 percent said they were satisfied with the current arrangements.  

Calling it an exploration of our lives OOO (Out of office), the article asked: Is this an opportunity to change how we work once and for all?

For many Melburnian workers, it has been five months of working from home. After the initial response of shock, denial and confusion, many have now had the opportunity to adjust and establish certain routines. Many are reporting that less travel to a physical office has increased their productivity and resulted in a better lifestyle where they are more connected with their families and their local communities (even from a safe distance).

While this is the case for many, there are also those who miss bumping into colleagues, the ability for impromptu coffee catch ups and the chats in the hallways. 

There has been much reflection on the definition of essential – and an appreciation for workers who do this type of work. Workers in health care with long hours and low pay have been branded heroes during this pandemic, and rightly so. I wonder if it is a common thing among us desk workers to feel that desire at this time to be an essential worker so we can have purpose and be at the frontline of battling the virus. 

Life as we know it has truly been drastically changed. But there is no certainty yet about what the future landscape looks like. 

How will the office of the future evolve? How will teams continue to operate and collaborate together? What will this mean for careers? How will the lockdown affect future consumer behaviours? How will this impact on travel and our ability to gather and even worship? How will this affect industries that are supposed to protect and care for vulnerable members of our society, like the aged and frail?

I don’t believe there are answers to these questions at the moment. All I know is, life is currently an open canvas. There are no certainties – except for one: that we will be able to move forward together to the future, whatever and however that may look like.

So, everyone ready to go?

(For comments or feedback, email asthercreo@gmail.com)

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