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The coronavirus has changed the way we live our lives. Some of those changes—staying six feet apart, wearing masks inside—may prove temporary, while others—working from home, videoconferencing—may be here to stay.
Amanda Mull and Derek Thompson have chronicled many aspects of our “new normal” since the pandemic began. Today, as vaccine developments promise a return to pre-pandemic life, Amanda and Derek reflect on how our lives changed in the past 10 months, and contemplate how much of our future will continue to look like our present.
The pandemic has changed virtually everything about American life, but for me, the biggest thing—and one that people often don’t think about in such terms—is how it has changed what we need from our homes. —Amanda Mull
Homes are built environments in the same way offices or restaurants or bowling alleys are, refined by their occupants over years or decades to fulfill a narrow set of purposes. Now our homes have been asked to change on the fly to become schools, workplaces, video studios, or every-meal-of-the-day restaurants. —A.M.
I assumed remote work would increase steadily over the next few years for white-collar workers whose jobs mostly took place on their computers and smartphones. Instead, it has skyrocketed suddenly and chaotically. —Derek Thompson
I believe that the next few years will not be an easy transition. Offices were not invented by mistake: People need community and camaraderie from their work, and many companies still have no idea how to maintain those things in a distributed office. Be prepared for a future of white-collar work that is weirder, more anxious, and more alienating than the one we had coming into the pandemic—if such a thing is even possible. —D.T.
Read more about life after lockdown from around our newsroom:
The Great Depression permanently altered many people’s behavior. Could COVID-19 do the same?
The U.S. could have hundreds of thousands of fewer births next year than it would have in the absence of a pandemic.
A terrible custom is gone for good. Hallelujah.