What happened to the weekend?

The work week is nothing like it was. And neither is the weekend.

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

It’s difficult to even remember when life, for almost all of us, was on a settled schedule.

Whether we worked full-time, part-time or even not at all, keeping the days of the week straight was something so basic, few of us even considered it.

As with everything else, from shopping to social life, thanks to 2020, even our daily schedules are in a constant state of upheaval.

Before March, a huge majority of us worked (or, if we didn’t work, lived) as if life was organized on a five day a week work schedule and a two-day weekend.

Even if we didn’t need to live by that schedule, we took it as a given that everyone else did.

Freeways, grocery stores and local parks were all set up on a regular, reliable schedule. The term “rush-hour” had meaning.

But now, and for most of 2020, schedules are in flux. The dreaded “Monday” has evaporated. “Hump day” (Wednesdays) has no relevance whatsoever.

The work week is nothing like it was. And neither is the weekend.

With so many of us furloughed, laid-off or working reduced hours or from home, how we organize our time and how we prepare for our day has completely changed.

What we do has changed as well.

I have not worn a button-down shirt for months. I’m partial to pull-over shirts, T-shirts in the summer for example. Since my public life, professional or social has essentially evaporated, I’ve pushed my button-shirts to the back of the closet and have put about ten T-shirts on semi-permanent rotation.

And shoes? For me it has been slip-ons or none.

If I’m inside, which for better or worse lately has become my default setting, I wear shorts no matter what the weather is doing.

Like most people, I have Zoom meetings on a regular basis. Those motivate me to perk it up a bit and wear what my wife calls a “dress T-shirt” and even comb my hair.

So many of us working from home has created a gold rush in home office supplies from printers to office furniture. Who would have imagined that there would be a hot market for desks for home use?

Working from home, as some of us have been advocating for years, can be at least as productive as from an office – often far more productive.

We just need to get accustomed to the occasional interruption by an errant pet or child.

Oddly enough, on a related note, home sales increased during most of 2020.

Spending more time at home made people realize that an investment in housing is really an investment in quality of life.

Homes with potential office space sold at a premium.

Centralized (and expensive) downtown office space was suddenly dead weight. Standard working hours went the way of, well, office buildings. And lengthy commutes.

Besides work, entertainment was turned upside-down and inside-out. Concerts, festivals and conventions were cancelled or somehow, usually clumsily, adapted to online experiences.

Maybe it’s just me, but an online concert or comedy show doesn’t really work for me.

But in the professional world, it just might.

Back in the old days, like last year, corporations would spend a fortune sending staff to meetings around the world.

I have a friend from the corporate world. She spent most of her year going to meetings and conferences around the world for a major company. Her passport was packed with international stamps from Singapore to France.

It was exhausting and expensive. Jet-lag took its toll. And all she saw was airports and hotel lobbies.

Global online meetings might be the answer many have been looking for.

Juggling time zones is far easier, and vastly less expensive than a series of connecting flights, hotel rooms and days dedicated to jet lag recovery.

Every dollar saved by global corporations by using online meetings is a dollar lost by the airline and hospitality industries.

But every dollar saved by global corporations is a dollar that could be invested somewhere else.

And every representative, by meeting online for an hour or two, saves literally days of travel and recovery time. That much additional time, dedicated to sales or research, could add to the company bottom-line like nothing else.

Hotels and airports, like the rest of us, suddenly find little distinction between Saturdays and Tuesdays.

And like the rest of us, the hospitality industry, if they want to be successful, needs to learn that, not only is there no going back, as the Bible, and Bob Dylan put it, there is no looking back.

Time and opportunity are only in the future. As Jeff Bezos put it, when it comes to global shifts and business trends “If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.’

The weekend as most of us knew it is gone.

For better or worse, we will probably never see such a clear distinction between work and leisure again in our lifetimes.

Fewer and fewer career tracks will account for a separation we all took for granted just a few months ago.

More and more employers want to know more about our private lives from social media accounts to credit reports or personal habits like smoking.

Is the blur between the weekend and the work day freedom and flexibility or the ultimate intrusion?

Either way, like privacy in the digital age, weekends evaporated when we weren’t looking.

Maybe that 9-5 work day wasn’t so bad after all….