Executive Director, Bruce Leech

Greetings. I trust everyone had a great 4th of July. We had a special visitor near our home in Northern Michigan, as President Biden flew in to buy some cherry pies at our local farmer's market!

I know we are all anxious for a return to normal over the Summer as we return safely to work. The pandemic changed the way we work and live in very profound ways. There are many things we learned during this pandemic that we should keep in mind as we all create our new normal.

Self-Care: continue to take care of yourself. Being forced to slow down showed many how burned out they were from their crazy pace of work. It also identified what people need to feel supported and valued. We all realized a new definition for work/life balance, which we should continue to keep in mind going forward.

Vulnerability: when you’re in the middle of an important videoconference and your cat hops up on the back of your chair or the kids are yelling in the background, it’s hard not to feel a little bit vulnerable. That vulnerability can lead to connection. When you allow yourself to open up to someone else, you build stronger relationships, and we should not lose that.

Transparency: because these were crazy times, managers were more transparent, consistent, and detailed in communications with employees. We need to stick with those open communication practices as employees return to the office and as more people work remotely. Transparency will be even more important in keeping an open and honest culture.

Entrepreneurial: no matter what line of work you are in, you likely had to figure out some problem or issue over the course of the past year in true entrepreneurial fashion. We don’t often put ourselves in situations where we’re solving problems on the fly, but we had no choice during the pandemic. Don’t lose sight of your ability to solve things and make the workplace better. Embrace those creativity and innovation skills you developed during these post-pandemic times.

Tech: technology adoption accelerated during the pandemic to facilitate remote work, social distancing, and safety requirements. Collaboration platforms launched new remote capabilities and teamwork. Zoom became a verb and a way of life. Much of this technology will certainly leverage and enhance our in-person experience in the future, as we will be in the classroom and streaming this Fall.

While I would never wish a pandemic upon us again, we can now begin to look at a few of the positive things that happened in the past year and continue to embrace those things that are most important in life. I hope you all have some time to enjoy this Summer before the “new normal” hits us in the Fall!