A Year Into COVID-19

March 11, 2021

By Jeremy Yohe

Flying home from Denver on March 11, 2020 after ALTA SPRINGBOARD, I had no idea just how much life would be impacted by COVID-19. Did any of us? That same day, the World Health Organization declared a world pandemic. The United States announced a national emergency two days later.

It's already known that 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths topping three million for the first time. Most were due to COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Americans—the highest death toll in the world.

The continued stress of the pandemic has impacted employee engagement. According to a recent survey, almost 90 percent of people say their workplace well-being has declined since last March. The causes range from increased workloads, a lack of connection to others and growing disengagement. As people shifted to remote working, many collaborated on video calls—especially Zoom, where daily users jumped from 10 million to 200 million.

To replace the at-work experience, companies offered team-building opportunities like Zoom “happy hours” or morning stretch sessions. However, as these online activities became part of the daily workload, the “happy” disappeared from online social hours. Simply put, people got burned out.

The seeds for this phenomenon were planted prior to the pandemic. In fact, the health crisis amplified unsustainable pre-pandemic practices of too many meetings and work now being handled remotely. According to Steven Rogelberg of UNC Charlotte, we’ve had meeting fatigue for a while. His pre-COVID-19 studies show about 55 million meetings per day were held in the United States alone and that U.S. organizations wasted $37 billion annually because most meetings were unproductive.

Additionally, a compilation of data by Harvard Business Review revealed that more than half of the respondents said their job demands have increased. ALTA President Bill Burding NTP shared that—like most—his job description changed over the past year. As general counsel for Orange Coast Title, a good deal of Burding’s time also involves making sure his company’s employees and customers are safe and healthy. This includes overseeing the company’s COVID-19 Taskforce and reviewing rules across the country to know how counties are handling vaccinations. During the initial shutdown, he recalled providing letters to employees so they could verify they were deemed essential workers and could get past police roadblocks. Now, Burding is having to provide similar letters so employees can get vaccinated.

A year into one of the most difficult years for public health in modern history, we’ve struggled, adapted and persevered. One positive thing from the crisis, however, is that it showed the country how the title and settlement services industry gets things done. We’d like to hear how COVID-19 has changed your life. Send your stories to [email protected]. We hope to share your anecdotes in TitleNews.

Jeremy Yohe is ALTA's vice president of communications. He can be reached at [email protected].

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or [email protected].