2021 may well have been one of the hardest years of the pandemic. Although
restrictions were (somewhat) less severe, business all across Canada was starting to pick up
speed. This was certainly the case for us, since an increased need for digitization meant we
were seeing more demand than ever. However, with restrictions, lockdowns, illnesses, and
school closures all putting pressure on the number of staff we had available, we knew we had to
think on our feet to find the right balance.
In the end, 2021 was a year where our leadership, organization, and time management
skills were put to the test. We learned that when it comes down to running a business in an
uncertain global environment, being flexible, compassionate, and team-oriented can go a long
way. We also learned being organized is essential for running on less staff, communication is
key, and that having fun — and sharing food — has a way of bringing people together.
Here are some ways we navigated the post-pandemic world together in 2021:
1) We Countered Pandemic Fatigue
Of all provinces, Ontario had some of the strictest measures to curb the spread. While
vaccines rolled out early, restrictions on social gatherings, restaurant closures, and mask
mandates lingered on. For a lot of people, this was tough.
To maintain morale in the office, we kept up with safe, in-person social events as much
as possible. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Easter with our work family, and held a pandemic-
friendly Christmas party for our staff (with vaccination and rapid testing required for both
employees and guests). To make our in-person social events possible we did them in shifts, and
in the end, we were able to avoid anyone getting sick — which is something we’re proud of.
While pandemic fatigue isn’t something you can measure, being one of the few
businesses to (safely) hold events in-person this year was crucial for bringing up spirits and
keeping a positive attitude in the office.
2) We Used All Resources Available
One of the reasons we were able to throw our staff a safe, in-person Christmas party
was because of vaccinations, rapid tests, and other safety protocols. At a time when many
people were feeling the pressure of pandemic fatigue and lockdown burnout, our in-person
events were a way to be social, blow off steam, and come together as a team.
These were only possible because we stayed on top of the news, jumped at the chance
to get rapid test kits when they were offered, and were diligent in making sure our staff got their
vaccines. As an ISO 9000 company, we’ve had a pandemic response plan in place since 2017
— however, the government’s decisions dictated a lot of the regulations and restrictions we had
to adhere to. By keeping on top of the news, we were able to follow updates on safety protocols,
lockdowns, and school closures, as well as be on the ball when it came to getting supplies and
3) We Kept Up Our Empathy & Communication Practice
Last year, we attended a workshop to improve our empathy and communication skills.
This year, we’ve continued to put those changes into place — making time to drive staff
members to their vaccinations, offering lunches and other treats during shifts, and offering paid
time off when employees were sick. All of this was our way of showing our team that we cared,
listening to them, and taking their ideas into consideration.
We’re also hoping to open up our project management side. By sharing the details on
large or upcoming projects, we want to encourage more of our team to get involved. Making the
project management process more transparent will hopefully allow staff to feel comfortable
sharing their ideas and speaking up.
4) We Focused on Planning
More demand for our services and less staff on hand could have made for a sticky
situation, but we were able to make it work. In addition to adding new employees to our team,
we’ve had to have staff working in shifts, which has meant new strategies for project
management in addition to a rolling schedule for lunches and breaks.
Through it all, we maintained communication and safety procedures. We started putting
more of our plans in writing, clearly communicated pandemic related information, and had three
cleaning shifts a day. We implemented masks and desk dividers in accordance with government
policy and used rapid testing to catch 11 positive COVID-19 cases before they came into the
office. All of this helped keep things running smoothly in the office, even when the outside world
seemed hard to control.
5) We Learned from the Past (and Rolled with the Punches)
Although protocols can lessen the impact of a pandemic, there’s never a perfect
response. Nobody has a crystal ball, so we can’t expect our management, employees, or even
our governments to be failproof. Mistakes happen, and part of running a business is learning
from the past in order to be stronger moving forward.
Extra lockdowns pushed case numbers down the road. Project deadlines needed
tweaking, and any struggles within team dynamics required a rapid response. Every issue we
faced during the pandemic gave us another opportunity to learn, and many of the policies we
implemented during restrictions and lockdowns have remained.
Today, we still have dividers between our staff, multiple break times, and written
communication policies. We are still flexing our empathy muscles and trying to listen to our
employees. We are still focused on staying safe and working together as a team.
While the pandemic was hard for everyone, communication and planning were what
helped us make it work. Going forward, we’re looking positively at the changes we’ve made and
our outlook on the future — and we’re excited to see what comes next.