Oh What a Year!

No one will miss slamming the door on 2020.

Thinking back a year ago, we had such high hopes and promise for a new start, clean slate, a great kick off, resolutions and goals to make (and break!). Now there are lots of ‘choice words’ and articles to describe what a year 2020 has been.

However, with challenges the global pandemic caused in 2020, along with racial and political tensions, there were opportunities too. I have seen our young adults step up, learn about rights and elections, help others in the community, and think creatively and ‘outside the box’. Restaurants and retailers ramped up online order offerings, delivery and curbside processes. Our Howard Tech leadership team has shifted gears many times to guide team members on tough decisions and implement remote solutions never before realized. Educators revamped learning curriculums to meet virtual platforms and practices to engage students online. And our front-line responders and health care workers are simply ‘heroes’.

We want to hear from you. Take a quick survey on the impact 2020 has had on your business model – the good, the bad, the ugly. What changes have you implemented? Will these changes stick around? Any ‘ah-ha’ moments? What will you leave behind in 2020? How can Howard Tech serve you better in 2021?

The HTA team spent time reflecting on the past year and looking ahead. Here is what they had to say:

What was personally most challenging about 2020?

  • The uncertainty. We all like predictability and stability, but 2020 didn’t provide much of that.
  • While job-hunting, being interviewed via Zoom and Microsoft Teams was an interesting (and sometimes awkward) experience, but it made me step out of my comfort zone. Also selling and buying a house during the pandemic was quite stressful, especially from 10 hours away.
  • Seeing friends and local businesses struggle financially. Wondering how it will impact my family. The heavily restricted social calendar has meant that there are hundreds of casual friends, church and business acquaintances that I haven’t seen or spoken to in nearly a year. We worked to connect to good friends and neighbors, but that next tier of relationships have suffered.
  • Having the energy to help my kids adapt to a more solitary school experience. This will continue to be a challenge until they return to an actual school building.
  • Planning family and social gatherings all around the ‘weather’! Having to get together outside kept us looking to weather reports and scheduling time with friends on those good-looking days. But we have cleaned up and used our garage more too for small, safe socials!
  • Staying positive despite all the negative messaging.
  • Not being able to help others in need ‘physically’ with a hug. But appreciate all the local opportunities to donate and volunteer safely for other families in need.

What was professionally most challenging about 2020?

  • The most challenging about 2020 professionally was working from home. There was no longer a distinction between work – work and housework, it was all just work.  There was no place to retreat.
  • Working from home background noise – keeping kids, animals, and husband quiet while on video calls and trainings! And respecting the students’ online school classes as well. Juggling the online schedules for everyone.
  • Learning how to do things ‘on my own’ – trying to fix or resolve issues before tapping into team resources. Being more independent but missing the in person, instant team camaraderie too.

Any industry challenges or opportunities?

  • All of the remote working has really highlighted the need for an internet-and-email-security-trained workforce. We continue to see successful compromises at the weakest part of the equation, the human element.
  • Remote workers appeared to be more demanding. There are learning curves and barriers to technical ‘know how’. More patience is required on both sides.
  • Keeping clients safe and secure with the expansion of remote work initiatives.
  • Team had to work on creative solutions for getting end users up and remotely running quickly with limited time and equipment resources.
  • Shortages of technology equipment (laptops, computers, web cameras, monitors) put a strain on delivery times and implementation. This continues to be frustrating for Howard Tech and clients/end users.
  • Using tools and applications that were known but not regularly used (Zoom, FaceTime, Teams) – for both work and personal. Teaching others how to use and implement them.

Looking ahead to 2021? Hopes and wishes?

  • We would love to see more family in 2021 and are hopeful this comes to fruition.
  • I’m hesitant to think anything will return to normal in the spring, but I hope that the summer allows travel this year. Looking forward to working with our clients as many of them continue to adapt to a mobile or remote workforce.
  • I hope for more unity in our country, especially as we continue adapting to life during COVID. We could all use a little more empathy and kindness!
  • Looking ahead to being able to travel and go on vacation.
  • Can’t wait to have and host extended family and friend dinners! Celebrating birthdays and milestones together!
  • Getting students back in school to learn, engage in person, and socialize with peers.

I find myself ‘blaming’ things on Year 2020. The broken dish, cancelled vacations, a flat tire, burnt holiday cookies. But what can we learn and grow from the challenges and disappointments of such a year? There are silver linings that we just need to discover and ponder – the amazing solar, moon and star occurrences, adopting a rescue animal, helping others, smiling ‘eyes’ (mask terminology), fun virtual backgrounds, creative and new ideas. Maybe these won’t be found or seen right away, but they will come in due time. We can only hope and wait with an open mind and door.

Howard Tech is here to serve you. We look forward to a great 2021 and wish each of you a safe and bright start!