To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone is a painfully obvious understatement. Globally, hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, millions of people are unemployed and hungry, and protests continue to surge. To even be typing these words feels surreal and unbelievable, and my deepest sympathies go to every person who has been negatively impacted.
Recently, my husband reminded me that “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” That statement resonates with me, especially as we move into what may be our most difficult days. Despite all the turmoil, I do believe that there has been some good this year. So, as we close it out, let’s remember these silver linings.
A renewed focus on employee health and safety
Of course, we always want to keep our people well and free from harm, but this year has underlined the fact that unhealthy employees can cause major business disruptions. In extreme cases, entire plants can shut down. As such, many companies are investing not just in essential personal protective equipment, but also in home office ergonomics processes and restarting work ramp-up plans.
Companies that have historically been resistant to employees working from home are now seeing the benefits. According to the research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, companies such as Dow Chemical find teleworkers to be 34 to 40% more productive than office-based employees. Additionally, an estimated 78% of employees who take sick days aren’t really sick—they’re home tending to family issues. Providing employees with the flexibility to work from home has become a viable option that benefits everyone.
Transitioning live activities, like trainings, to a virtual format has provided companies with access to resources that were once prohibitive, either due to cost, travel restrictions, or geographical location. Humantech facilitated virtual workshops for sites in Ireland, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa this year, to name a few. Virtual trainings have brought participants together from diverse locations to collaborate and benchmark. Opportunities like these were not always available!
From the 100-year-old British army veteran who, by walking, raised $38 million for the National Health Service, to the man in Washington State who collected and donated 2.4 million pounds of surplus crops to local food banks, to the countless stories of people buying coffee for the person in line behind them at a local coffee shop or paying off someone’s layaway order at a big-box store; the biggest silver lining of 2020 is knowing that people across the globe still help each other during times of need.
This year is not what we hoped for, but it’s important to remember the positive gains we achieved. As we all prepare for what promises to be a much better year in 2021, I hope you can reflect and find your own silver linings.
Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.