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Resilient Workforce - Amanda Ryan Hero Mobile

Pandemic Prompts New Normal for Tourism Couple

By Jack Chang | 3 min

Amanda Potts loved the daily hustle and bustle that filled the Hyatt Regency Starbucks where she served as lead supervisor just blocks away from the California state Capitol. She enjoyed seeing Capitol staffers mix with visitors drawn by the nearby convention center as the days passed by in a blur of steam.

All those people vanished last spring as the COVID-19 pandemic emptied out office buildings and meeting spaces across Sacramento. Amanda and her boyfriend Ryan Skog, who worked at the neighboring Sheraton Grand hotel, found themselves furloughed and stuck at home with their two daughters, waiting out the virus like everyone else and worrying how they were going to pay their bills.

More than a year later, Potts is back at work, but the hustle and bustle that she cherished is gone, she said.

“Seeing it now I see maybe a handful of people everyday,” Potts said. “Seeing that contrast, it really sinks in about how many people are not back to work.”

This past year, however, has brought some blessings for the couple. They have enjoyed spending whole days together with their children compared to their busy pre-COVID routines when they were lucky to see each other a few minutes a day.

“It was rare before that we had days off together, so just kind of enjoying the fact that we had time to spend together, we could have dinner as a family every night together, cook breakfast in the morning and just be together,” Potts said.

Skog, the Sheraton Grand’s former director of services, has since retrained as a coder and now tutors students in the same coding bootcamp he completed during the pandemic. This family’s new normal – with one member telecommuting – is likely to become the post-pandemic pattern for many households for years to come.

“For me, working from home now and realizing we can juggle this and manage it in terms of income, I want things to stay the way they are,” Skog said. “I’ll be home with the girls working from home, and she can work at the hotel.”

Potts said the security of her job will depend on what opens or closes over the coming months and how the world rides out the pandemic. For now, she can still imagine the world returning to the way it was before COVID-19 struck.

“Occupancy being high, planning for a large group coming, we have no days off, everyone’s scheduled, all hands on deck, that’s what I think getting back to normal would look like, what it looked like before,” Potts said. “Just being busy and running around and the day flying by - and in a dream world, hopefully more time home with the family.”