I don’t often let you peek behind the curtain of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog. After all, the focus (for 13+ years!) has always been on “new and noteworthy developments” in employment law for Connecticut businesses.
But as we approach Thanksgiving and, well, because these are anything but unusual times, I wanted to share a few personal anecdotes and nuggets from this year that haven’t quite made it into a blog post for one reason or the other.
I’m now in month 9 in working from home on essentially a full-time basis. For the first two weeks into the pandemic I worked in the living room. That quickly ended when the rest of the family all agreed they were tired of hearing me on call after call, particularly early in the morning when they were all trying to sleep in.
Thinking back to those first few weeks, I recall days filled with putting out fires for employers who were dealing with furloughs, illnesses, government shutdowns and more — all at once. What’s notable though now is that they were always calls.. But over time, it’s really remarkable how much of my days have now been taken over by video conferences. Whether by Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or Lifesize (who knew?), it’s fascinating how much of a shift has occurred in 2020.
That shift will have major ramifications for the way employment law is practiced in the future. I expect mediations to mainly be done via video conference from here on out. Why make attorneys and parties (and insurers) travel hours on end to wait in uncomfortable conference rooms, when a video conference is worthy, less costly substitute?
Similarly, I expect that more depositions will just be conducted via video conference as well. Sure there will be those attorneys who insist that in-person depositions are far superior to video. But the more you try video depositions, the more you realize how misplaced that notion is. And the longer this pandemic goes on, the more these new options will become the norm.
Cases, however, are moving at a speed slower than a turtle, as the expression goes. Deadlines are fluid and there hasn’t been a civil trial in this state since March with no real sign that we’ll be getting back to normalcy until mid-summer 2021 — at the earliest. It will take years to work through that backlog. That means more cases may be ripe for settlement.
My home office is nothing like my office at work. First of all, we have two shelves full of pandemic supplies in one corner with more snacks, soups, masks, and (my favorite) jelly beans than you can use in a year. My office mate consists of my 9 year old Australian Labradoodle who would like nothing more than to have me throw his toy endlessly. I still dream that I’m going to redo the space to make it more professional, but there’s something also homey about the space that is worth keeping too. And no commute is certainly good as well.
The home office has its downsides as well. The computer is always there — and during this pandemic, there is an endless supply of work to be done. Days turn into nights. As a result, I’m working more than ever despite the so-called “luxury” of working from home. It’s also harder to collaborate with colleagues at work; however, as the pandemic has progressed, I’m finding that with a bit of scheduling and, yes, Webex, it’s become easier over time.
Each day has that “Groundhog Day” sameness that others have noted. Get up, put on work clothes, put up a pot of coffee, let the dog out, go “into” the office. Each day. Every day. There’s no travel anymore. No clients to visit. Days blend into each other. No businesses lunches. And why take vacation when vacation is just another day at home?
Despite the exhaustion of it all, as we approach Thanksgiving, I still find reasons to be thankful. Thankful I’ve gotten to spend far more time with my family. Thankful that I have a job that allows me to work from home when I know millions are not so fortunate. And grateful, for the work by healthcare providers, scientists, and teachers, who have kept us going.
A vaccine brings hope. It’s still months away. But it’s tangible. Real. We now know it is coming.
And for that, we all have reason to be thankful.
Be safe. Stay healthy. Happy Thanksgiving.