A reflection on the impact of COVID-19, two years later…

Just over two years ago, on March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. A week later, the Jouta team met for a virtual check-in event. In 2021, we did so again on the same date at the same time, and this year, we again followed suit.

Last year, we discussed our most significant challenges and surprises, as well as the unexpected ‘gifts’ that were offered as a result of the pandemic. This year, we noted that where we are today is in many ways different, and yet so much the same. While COVID continues to impact our lives in less than desirable ways, in some respects, we realize we’ve adjusted to our new reality. In our discussion this year, we chatted about the recent/upcoming loosening of restrictions, what we’d like to see stay, some of the things that have guided our decisions (both in a broad societal sense and individually), what we’re grateful for, and how we’d sum up the last year overall. 

In sharing this with you, we hope to spark similar discussions amongst your teams, families, and friends. We’ve all been in this together, and we all continue to navigate the waves.

Impact of COVID-19 restrictions on how we work

As the mask mandate has recently been removed in BC (as for most other provinces) and vaccine passports will no longer be required as of April 8th, 2022, we started our discussion there:

  • We’ve only met with clients in person a few times during the last two years
  • Despite the Jouta team having worked remotely for the last 7 years, with the need to interact regularly in a virtual space with clients, we’ve learned to better navigate technology
  • While there will always be circumstances that are more impactful in person, we now understand that we don’t need to travel to do much of our work, and some work can be much more efficient virtually
  • We can have an impact and engage in meaningful conversation in a virtual space
  • As we did prior to COVID, we can and do focus on maintaining our strong and genuine team culture  

COVID-related restrictions – what we’d like to continue

  • Engaging in healthy conversation and consultation with colleagues, clients, families, teams/groups, and friends about our personal preferences and varying levels of caution
  • Elevated levels of surface cleaning, hand-washing, and availability of hand sanitizers (despite that having fallen by the wayside for many businesses)
  • Replacing the Western cultural norm of shaking hands with a warm smile, a nod of the head, or even a hug
  • Holding space for diverse perspectives rather than demonizing those with different beliefs (e.g., choosing to wear a mask, even if others aren’t)

What guided our decisions during COVID?

  • Fulfilling a social contract to our families, friends, and society overall  
  • Always coming from a “greater good” perspective with less concern for COVID’s impact on ourselves 
  • Although some of the details didn’t always make sense, controls overall were understandable in order to minimize hospitalizations and impact on health care, etc.
  • While we appreciated the information and acknowledge the unprecedented responsibility of our PHOs, full transparency without the full picture or knowledge eroded trust for some
  • Learning to replace fear with caution

What we’re grateful for as a result of COVID-19

  • The impact of the great contemplation (a notion we prefer to ‘the great resignation’)
  • No one we’re close to suffered significantly
  • Having started to work with Jouta during this time
  • Strengthening relationships with people that matter
  • Due to similar circumstances/proximity, making friends with people we otherwise might not have
  • Seeing the workforce changing in positive and impactful ways
  • Disconnecting from work more, setting clear boundaries, putting a meaningful focus on what matters, and not spending time with people who don’t lift us up (and vice versa)

One word or phrase that sums up the last year

  • Contemplation
  • Do it with intention
  • Wake up, we’re not invincible
  • Reach out and check in
  • Focus on the moments in between
  • #$@!%

Although there are many similarities today to how we felt last year at this time, one poignant difference is moving from ongoing uncertainty with hope to a clearer vision with hope. We now know that shedding our masks and reducing restrictions may not last, we see what’s happening in other parts of the world with variants, and yet we have more hope about the overall impact of the virus (i.e., severity of illness). And life has gone in both positive and incredibly devastating ways as, globally, and necessarily, we turn our attention towards the war in Ukraine.

As for us at Jouta, through ongoing contemplation and discussion, we are focusing on what we can keep about the last two years, and how we can intentionally let go and move on from the fear, challenges, and uncertainty.

Jouta’s HR Consultants invite you to reflect on and share your stories with us, or others in your life.