2020: A “NEW NORMAL” OR A “NEW NEW NORMAL”?
It’s 9:12 a.m. I got here this morning, just a couple of minutes before 8:00. Today will be the first day since March 17, 2020, that I have ventured to work in the office. That seems like a lifetime ago. During this time we’ve all dealt with some major and tragic events—COVID-19, the unexpected death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, a major economic collapse, the tragic and highly publicized deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks followed by national protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, monstrous wildfires raging in California, Oregon, and Washington which produced harmful smoke across the West Coast, and most recently, the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg one of the most important Supreme Court Justices of all time. It’s been a year we will no doubt always remember.
Though our physical office building remains closed due to the social distancing policies still in place here in Washington, and most all of our staff is working remotely, we have had a skeleton crew here to answer phones and process the incoming and outgoing mail. I’ve worked remotely the entire time. Today, I needed to be in the office so I came in. I walked in to my office to realize that my office chair was not at my desk (when we closed our office, I brought it to my home office and didn’t even think to bring it back again). I sat down to see 92 messages on my office phone (my voicemails go to my phone and e-mail allowing me to check my e-mails remotely, even if they don’t delete off my phone). Then, I sat down to my computer to realize I didn’t remember the password to login to my desktop (I’d been working from my laptop this entire time). It took me just over an hour to delete my voicemails, have my chair delivered, and get help from our IT department to login to my computer. But now I’m up and running smooth as ever.
It’s interesting. When the shelter-in-place orders were first issued and we as a country, indeed as a world, began the adjustment to working remotely from home, it was uncomfortable and seemed strange to be so isolated from the world around us. But we adapted and made accommodations to make our new “normal” work for us. We, no doubt, changed as a society. I absolutely believe that the “workplace” will never again return to the old “normal.” 2020 has changed it forever. I believe it changed the way we work, the way we vacation, and the way we interact with our clients and business associates. Returning, at some point in the future, will surely cause another adjustment as we all adapt to our new, new normal. I encountered just a taste of that adjustment this morning.
I’m fortunate to work at a law firm that is on the cutting edge of these adjustments. We were technologically prepared to work remotely—such that when we were presented with a world that made working from home a necessity, we were mostly ready and needed only a few small adjustments and were quick to adapt. I am confident that as we move through 2020, and into 2021, we will continue to meet each new normal head on and continue to represent our clients as efficiently and responsibly as is possible in whatever situation we’re presented with. That commitment is something we as a firm have always prided ourselves on—even when doing so meant correcting mistakes on a type writer.
About the Author
Scott Edwards is a partner at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards law firm. Scott is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and has been practicing law since 2008. Though Scott started his career working for insurance companies, he now focuses his practice on personal injury, auto accident, biking accident, and insurance cases. In his free time, Scott enjoys spending time pedaling around the streets of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon on his bicycle.