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Five ways COVID-19 has changed work and school, possibly forever

Coronavirus sped up changes already being debated
Will we continue to work from home after pandemic is over?
Posted at 11:37 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 11:37:26-05

DENVER — Arguably, COVID-19 has been a life-changing experience for the majority of Americans.

And now, it’s becoming more and more apparent that COVID-19 has changed major areas of the community – forever.

Corporate and office flexibility

"I'm in a better mood,” said Scott Kagi. “I have about three more hours per day, at least, to work."

Kagi, a mortgage broker, heads up two offices with more than a dozen workers who are now, and possible forever, working from home.

“We have to keep one office for licensing purposes and if it wasn't for that - I wouldn't even have that," he said.

Gratuity included

While corporate settings have seen big changes, no industry has been upended quite like the restaurant industry.

In an effort to keep its employees employed and well-compensated, City Street Investors, which owns Billy’s Inn and LoHi SteakBar among other restaurants, is moving to a European-style gratuity included model with 20% added to every check – no matter the size of your party.

“I do think that COVID made it unavoidable,” said Kirsten Becker, spokesperson for City Street. “Other cities, like the Twin Cities, Washington, D.C. - they’ve implemented it and I think we’ll be seeing it more and more. We’re happy to be leaders in it.”

The wait staff seems to like it, viewing it as a fairer living wage.

“We’re always part of a team, but now we really are,” said server Jess George. “And our service is dependent so much on each other.”

And as it turns out, most diners don’t mind it either.

“If you get good service, 20% is nothing,” said one diner at Billy’s. “I think it’s fine. And if the service isn’t great – I’ll talk to the manager.”

Zoom-ready home offices

Home builders are also changing their mindset, building larger home offices. Think Zoom-ready rooms for moms and dads to work or for kids to go online and learn.

Snow Days gone?

Which brings us to e-learning.

As we just experienced a few weeks ago in Colorado, gone are the snow days of the past.

“We are living in a pandemic… and none of the old rules apply,” said Denver7 anchor Shannon Ogden during a recent newscast. “Instead of enjoying (the snow), JeffCo kids spent the day learning on laptops.”

Schools have adapted and now know how to quickly pivot to online learning if there’s any kind of health or weather disruption. But it’s an idea some kids and parents aren’t exactly in love with.

“It’s kind of the only spontaneous break kids get,” said one parent who did not wish to be identified for this story.

Work attire retired?

We also got comfortable being comfortable. Some experts say work attire is now retired. Casual and activewear saw huge spikes in sales.

"Any meeting that we need, we can do virtually," Kagi said.

This story originally reported by Russell Haythorn on TheDenverChannel.com