working our way through

My first days back in the office were challenging .For while I was in one sense “returning” to the world I had left some 80 days prior, in another very real sense I was entering a very different world; one with a different environment, new risks, limitations on social contact, and in which familiar tasks and activities require new methods and technologies.

Day one, Wednesday, was anxiety filled and stressful. The transition from home to office was not a smooth one. Over the last two and half months I had grown accustomed to a different, less formal, somewhat more relaxed routine and schedule. That abruptly ended Wednesday morning when I was required to revert back to much of my old regular schedule. The only two early morning differences were (i) my synagogue is still closed so I did not need to rush to make an early morning service and (ii) there was no traffic. Other than that I found myself struggling mentally to get back into my former mode and pace.

There was also the need to accommodate all the social distancing requirements. I needed to make sure I had my Covid-19 gear – mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer and to use them as and where required. A few hours in my office allowed me to begin to acclimate to the new workplace social distancing requirements. But working with others in the same room -which requires the wearing of a mask – is not going to be easy.

And then there were the new methods and technologies which must now be implemented in place of the tried and true face to face meetings, negotiations, and depositions etc. This aspect in particular raised my anxiety level quite high as I was to have my first Zoom mediation on Thursday and Friday followed the week after by several video depositions

By Friday afternoon my stress level was abating considerably. The Zoom mediation was excellent. The fact that it was by video not only did not detract from its effectiveness but in certain material respects it was superior to an in person session. For example, it afforded a considerable cost savings for the parties as a traditional in person mediation in this case would have required international travel by at least four participants. Similarly, I practiced the technology to be used for the depositions and am hopeful that we can adequately meet that new challenge, as well.

My first three days back informed me as follows: While many in the US seem to believe that they can end the pandemic simply by declaring it over or by ignoring its reality, the virus does very much remain among us. It will continue to interrupt and change our lives. The stresses of shelter in place will be exchanged for new and different stresses and difficulties. We will each need, individually and together, to work our way through them.

It is a marathon with many hills, curves and turns.

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