While working from home may have sounded appealing in 2020, these days it’s as enjoyable as being trapped by snow in Barrow, Alaska. Our employees at GroupOne Background Screening have effectively been “snowed in” now for over a year. It’s a tribute to their dedication they have maintained deadlines and continue to meet the screening needs of our valued clients.

Slowly but surely, we are beginning to return to the office. Such a return also includes job interviews and the hiring of new employees. We couldn’t help but laugh after learning of this viral Tweet from last month:

“I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I’ve just been asked in a job interview if I used lockdown to pursue any passion projects or personal development.”

Our staff laughed for a long time. We suspect attempting to avoid infection and death while keeping our children safe was more than enough of a “passion project.” As for “personal development,” well, we just tried to maintain our sanity while darting through the grocery store to find toilet paper.

We did notice the millions of new followers on TikTok, with participants achieving epic levels of costume flair and dancing finesse. I suppose we could have taken the time to learn a new language. One of our staff members did let their hair grow long.

The cold, hard reality (as cold as Barrow, Alaska) is that millions of employees lost their jobs almost overnight. Our hospitals filled with patients and over 600,000 lives have been lost. Of course, now that COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available, a safety net appears to be forming for the first time in months. But for how long?

And that’s the trauma many of us suffer from. The pandemic was a shocking jolt to our safety, and it never felt like a vacation. We were not inspired to buy a pottery wheel and create beautiful Grecian urns.

We had a staff member who lost their grandfather. Another lost an aunt. One of our employee’s best friends from high school – a pastor and grandfather – died. Then there were the maddening attempts at keeping our children interested in “virtual education.”

While our lives are returning to normal, it will be a long time before we feel comfortable and safe. Perhaps the appropriate question during a job interview is not whether the applicant pursued “passion projects” or “personal development,” but whether they were able to maintain safety for their loved ones.

With that said, last weekend we noticed kids at the local park splashing in the public swimming pool while bored lifeguards looked on. Children were laughing, radios were playing and parents were lounging in the shade. Perhaps enjoying a warm summer day is the best “passion project” of all.