No one would have predicted or ever thought possible a global pandemic would affect the way we learn, shop, or even work. Almost two years into our public health crisis and a few trends have emerged that will stay with us post COVID. The way we do business especially in our libraries will change.
Remote Work and School
Flexible hours, working from home, reduced 40-hour work weeks have all become the norm on job postings and recruitments. The expectation, new work life balance, COVID has provided, is the permission to enjoy a more fulfilling life outside of work. With online learning continuing in many families, working remotely is a necessity to provide a valuable education for our children. Check any advertisement for administrative support, accountant, engineer, and any job that can be done remotely is advertised as such. Even public service organizations have loosened up requirements to be in the office five days a week. But what about librarians using online tools and having eBooks so readily available now. Will people head back into the library building?
More Time Less Social Interactions
The lack of social interactions at work lends itself to more time at home, mostly alone or with close family. You save time getting ready for work and with less in person meetings when Zoom or Microsoft Teams will satisfy. The need to connect with human beings is greater now after lockdown. Whether increased time on social media is good or bad has not been determined. There is something to be said for potlucks and lunches out to celebrate a birthday or promotion with colleagues. Happy hour over Zoom is not quite the same as mingling and socializing in person.
Finally, some jobs will never change into remote careers. We think of waiters, police officers, and librarians. These are service positions, and those duties do not translate to remote work. People-facing jobs will not be able to evolve into digital or remote activities. These roles require people, to perform in-person services and tasks. So, we need to ask the question will public libraries go away with the popularity of eBooks and streaming videos? What will happen to libraries in the future with online programs, streaming music, and eBooks post COVID? Time will tell if libraries will meet customers’ needs.