This time last year, the U.S. was in the midst of a burgeoning pandemic, with citizens urged at every opportunity to avoid social gatherings and elect instead to stay at home and interact virtually with friends and family. Now, with more than 150 million Americans vaccinated and CDC guidance for fully-vaccinated people, new possibilities have emerged for an imminent “return to normalcy.” The collective mood has lifted, and is reflected in the responses of our most recent employee survey.
How did you spend Mother’s Day this year?
“Surprised my mom by picking my little brother up from the airport. He lives in Portland and hadn’t seen her in person since the start of the pandemic.” – Joshua Moyer, Technical Writer
“My mother and future mother-in-law came to our new house and we had a BBQ since everyone is now vaccinated!” – Emily Lindsay, Software Implementation Specialist
More than half of respondents saw their mothers in-person this year for Mother’s Day, with two respondents still mentioning video/Zoom calls as their mode of communication. Some went to dinner and brunch at restaurants, while others traveled out of state. An additional half of respondents spent the holiday at home with immediate family, celebrating wives and new mothers, and breaking out the backyard grill.
Have you received the COVID-19 vaccine? If so, how has it changed your daily/weekly activities?
“Yes I have. Over the past few weeks I’ve been able to see my friends and family who are also fully vaccinated. I hadn’t seen them since before the pandemic started. Otherwise, my activities haven’t changed much. I still make sure to wear a mask when I go to the store and I limit time and exposure to other people while indoors. My infant son won’t be able to be vaccinated for quite some time, so we still take a lot of precautions to reduce potential for exposure with unvaccinated people.” – Kyle Bishop, Director of Marketing and Business Capture
Almost all survey respondents—about 90 percent—have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many reported no change, and a continuation of caution in public settings. Others reported an increase of activities like eating at restaurants, seeing friends and family more often, and going to the gym. The increased public activity is likely a reflection of a larger trend. One respondent, after attending Target one weekend, remarked on the crowd: “It might has well have been Disney World.”
All Maryland residents aged 12 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which is administered free of charge. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine, you can schedule an appointment with a provider at massvax.Maryland.gov.
What are you looking forward to now that more people are getting vaccinated?
“Herd immunity if possible. Eventually I’d love to travel, but I don’t feel safe doing that now, even with myself being vaccinated. I look forward to seeing friends and family in person.”
“I am looking forward to engaging in a new normal where we can all continue practicing safe and hygienic practices.” Juan Gonzalez, Software Implementation Specialist
AINS employees have a lot to look forward to! Almost half of respondents mentioned the ability to see friends and family again, especially older relatives who were previously at-risk of contracting the virus. Some mentioned travel, baseball games, and concerts. Director of Programs Michael Eidelkind said, “I’ve never gone so long in my life without seeing live music.”
What is your favorite warm weather place or activity?
“My favorite warm weather place is going to the beach! I can’t wait to go this summer!” – Emily Lindsay
“Taking a nap on the porch after swimming at the beach all morning.” – John Gatewood, Technical Writing Supervisor
For many people, AINS employees included, summer means splashing around in the sun. Forty percent of respondents named the beach, swimming, and water sports—including tubing, kayaking, and boating—as a favorite place or activity. Others mentioned breweries and wineries, baseball games, and biking. Some even noted the simplistic beauty of enjoying the outdoors, “surrounded by nature.” If you are looking for new biking routes, Web Developer Sara Terrell suggests Rails to Trails Conservancies, which turn derelict railroad corridors into “multipurpose public paths.”
Since the start of telework, has your work/life routine changed at all? How and why?
“I’ve been remote for years now, but my husband is now also remote. The dog now sleeps under my husband’s desk all day instead of mine. I’m a little salty about it.” – Sara Terrell
“Telework makes my start and end times very flexible since I don’t have to commute. I don’t have to worry about traffic. I’ve been eating more homemade meals since I have all my ingredients close by.”
“With the extra twenty minutes I have from not commuting I started a side business. It has not been successful because twenty minutes is not a lot of time.” – John Gatewood
Almost three-quarters of respondents noted some change while teleworking, while 40 percent indicated the change was significant. A few respondents observed almost no change at all, either due to the ability to keep the same routines or (in rare cases) working at the office. Noted benefits of telework include increased flexibility of schedules, reduced cost of childcare, time saved commuting, and increased time with family. Disadvantages include longer working hours and easier access to junk food and snacks.