By Trevor Waytowich

It seems like such a long time ago that we first heard about COVID-19, and much has changed since then. Going through this process has highlighted many things in our lives, both good and bad. At the end of the day, I think we all have to look at the silver linings of this situation and learn some lessons going forward.

My situation was not an uncommon one: A partner who is a nurse, and three school-aged children. Suddenly, having to work from home while trying to manage three different curricula was a challenge to say the least. However, I quickly came to adopt the saying, “You’re not stuck at home - you’re safe at home,” which is a luxury many people, including my wife, did not have. My days soon started to consist of endlessly watching the news, fixating on the negativity. I was losing focus on the important things, and it was jarring.

When it was clear that this was not just a short term problem, things in our household slowly changed. I started to get more comfortable working remotely. My children got into a routine, and school became a little easier to manage. Instead of taking a coffee break with co-workers, we would take a walk as a family. Instead of the hectic rush to get ready for school and commuting to work, we would eat breakfast as a family. Things started to normalize.

Work offered up constant challenges with each new health guideline being passed. From our work sites shutting down completely, and eventually re-opening through various phases, our workforce had to be very adaptive. We embraced many different technologies to help us stay productive. Within the External Relations team, this offered us a different way of working, which had some serious advantages. Being located in Thunder Bay, pre-COVID it was harder to connect with our other co-workers from the four heritage sites in Northern Ontario. During the pandemic, and thanks to newly-adopted technologies, we got into the habit of having regular video chats, reaching out to one another, and collaborating more often. These are things that are sure to continue even after our workplaces start to go back to “normal”.

This situation has given everyone the time to reflect on their priorities, both at home and in the workplace. Moving forward, it will hopefully give us all an ability to appreciate what we have, to adjust our work habits to become more productive, and to live happier lives. I hope it has shown us that concentrating on doing things the same way you always have is a losing battle, but you’ll find success in discovering ways to embrace and move with the changes that come in life.

 

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