It is hard to believe we have been at this for a year—and yet what a long year it has been. As I reflect back to just before the pandemic, I was at a Washington Nationals Spring Training game, blissfully unaware of what was about to hit our organization, country, and the world. While it is encouraging to see vaccines roll-out and COVID-19 rates dropping, we have a ways to go to return to a life even close to the one we knew. But it finally feels like we are on the way.
The past year was a time of challenge and loss, but it has also been a year of creativity and innovation. At ITE, as throughout our industry, we have adapted on the fly to a virtual world, successfully retooling business practices, committees, meetings, and product development. We have created new initiatives and services that fit our remote circumstances. Our member organizations have done the same. Starting on page 26, we provide a snapshot of the results from a COVID-19 member survey led by the ITE Industry Council. This work provides insights on how prepared public and private sector organizations were for working remotely and how well they have adapted. It also provides an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on our industry in 2020 and 2021.
While these data capture the nearer-term impacts, the question that many are now turning to is the longer term, lasting impacts of COVID-19. Some parts of our society and industry will rapidly recover. For others it may take years, and still other aspects are forever changed. The challenge is to adapt to a new environment that will be in recovery and reinvention for quite some time, and to carry forward the positive lessons learned.
These experiences will continue to shape ITE in a number of important ways. It has made us a more flexible and nimble organization. We are employing a variety of new collaboration tools, most notably, Microsoft Teams, not only to support our internal operations, but also our many Councils and Committees, significantly enhancing our real-time collaboration abilities and effectiveness.
We have learned how to provide services and support from anywhere, not just in our offices. Going forward, I envision using a hybrid work schedule that maximizes the value of in-office collaboration while providing a better work-home balance (not to mention congestion and climate change reduction) through increased remote work. While we look forward to resuming in-person meetings, we have seen how virtual events allow us to reach those that are geographically separated or unable to travel. We intend to continue to offer more opportunities like our recent virtual Technical Conference.
Just as we are reshaping our business practices, so too have our members. In the second phase of the Industry Council COVID-19 effort, we are examining the key themes that emerged from the survey and how these themes will shape organization and workplace environments. Results should be available by the ITE Annual Meeting in July.
COVID-19 was a terrible tragedy, but in the end, it will make our organizations stronger and more resilient. It forced many to relinquish long-held norms that constrained creativity and innovation in the work place, and reaffirmed the value of in-person, human connections as co-workers, in our peer networks, and between clients and service providers. Reach me on the ITE e-Community or on Twitter: @JPaniatiITE.
This is reprinted from the ITE's Director Message in the April issue of ITE Journal.