I’m speaking from the privileged position of a single mother of 4 young girls who has a well paid temporary position and who, since the death of her husband, considers the idea of permanence an illusion that you can embrace or brush aside.
What if large scale education is eliminated?
Large scale education, the format where several hundreds of students have to be in one place to listen to a professor talk is one form of education. I think it’s one of the worst way to transmit knowledge (As a disclaimer: I work at a university and teach online and offline). If students have access to the right technology to watch lectures from a place off-campus, why require them to be on campus? The technology to record lectures and make it available to students exists for a very long time. Even before the internet, distance education existed.
The benefit of being on campus is to interact with others. Interaction doesn’t happen with a group of 400 students. It happens in small circles.
What if part-time work remains?
Part-time work has been introduced to offer flexible work solutions to people. It’s often used by women who have to also take care of kids. It’s also a way to keep costs down for employees. What if part-time work becomes the norm for all, not just those who can’t find full-time jobs or those who, when not in paid work, take care of the household? In other words, what if our days will not be filled by work away from family, but where work and family or other forms of social life get a fair share of the hours we are awake? To phrase it more broadly, what if full-time work is not anymore upheld as the ideal norm we need to strive for?
What if remote work remains?
Thanks to algorithms shaping my social media feed based on my interactions with social content, that’s a discussion I often hear. Some say, companies will not return to office work, others say they will. Not everyone wants or can work remotely. Do we force them to work remote, just as for long, those who wanted to work from home where not given the choice? If remote work remains or becomes the dominant approach for companies to organize, how do universities need to adapt? What will happen with office space in cities? Will we see more co-working offices? How will people decide where to live?
One thing that sparked these musing is this comic I received:
It’s about discussion in Belgium, lifting the measures to contain the virus. But you can’t see your friends, travel, go to a concert or see family member. What you can do is go to work and see your boss.
There is a danger in how lock-downs will end. There is talk about re-opening the economy, as people need money to put food on the table. Governments do not have the capacity to support people indefinitely. What is missing is discussion about re-opening society.
There is the potential for huge mental health crisis coming up. At the beginning of the lock-down people said It is ok to not be ok and described the current emotion people are feeling as grief. I know that grief is not just a moment. It follows you the rest of your life. It is always with you.
We can’t go back.