Last week’s experience with the “polar vortex” in Wisconsin demonstrated just how weather can affect us. It shut down schools, malls, restaurants and offices, forcing many to take a cold day. Even mail service was suspended as temperatures as low as 50 below zero were recorded. Perhaps more surprising in Wisconsin, bars shuttered their doors, too.
For the second week in a row, weather cramped many of our routines; the previous week’s snowstorm also closed schools. During that storm, with other offices up and running, I was able to work from home, but Wednesday, doing so seemed pointless. It’s tough to get much done when everyone else is forced into hibernation, so I threw in the towel and took a day off.
Scientists say we can expect these unprecedented temperatures to become more common as a result of climate change, and fortunately, we humans are adaptable. With cell phones, laptops and internet accessibility, we seem to be entering an age when more people are able to work remotely more often.
A growing number of Americans work at home at least one day a week. The New York Times cites a Gallup poll indicating that in 2017, 43 percent of the country’s work force spends some time working at home, and over the years, they’ve been able do more work from their abodes.
A Forbes report estimates that number will grow to 63 percent over the next five years. These workers save time and money on commuting and are more productive, according to that report. Companies also see lower rates of absenteeism and turnover by allowing employees to work at home.
For us journalists and others, working from home is not always an option. We need to get out in the community and talk to others. We need to cover meetings and events.
Workers in retail and service related professions also need to show up to greet customers. And who really wants to remain cooped up inside at home all the time anyway?
Sunday was Groundhog day, a time for that large marmot, or ground squirrel, to offer its expert prognostication on the coming of spring.
Technically, at least by the calendar, spring should arrive in six more weeks. That leaves just a month and a half to see what Mother Nature has in store for us during the rest of this winter.
Judging from last summer’s flooding and this recent arctic blast, she’s got a number of tricks up her sleeve, so we would do well to be prepared for all.