The Best and Worst of Times

Jeannette Bitz
December 16, 2020

As we wrap up 2020, Charles Dickens’ quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” comes to mind, especially with everything that took place in the telecom industry and the impact networking had on all of our lives. While it may be hard to believe some good came out of 2020, there were positive events and lessons, especially in how we connected virtually and communicated. Here are some positives and negatives, and maybe some promises for hope in 2021.

It was the best and worst of times

2020 was a challenging year for many. Illness, economic strain and uncertainty, the move to working from home with no prep time, and Stay-In-Place (SIP) mandates were just a few of the challenges that affected many of us. The events from the pandemic changed how we connected and communicated with loved ones and co-workers. Video chats replaced family get-togethers, and video sessions via Zoom or Teams replaced face-to-face meetings and events. Thanks to the Internet, we could keep business moving “as usual” and stay connected, albeit virtually, with our loved ones.

It was the spring of hope

The move to everyone working remotely taught us how effectively we can work from home, and for many, we discovered a new ‘work and life’ balance. Our workspace is no longer defined by being in a physical office, but by how employees access tools, resources and network connectivity. One thing no one seems to miss is the long commutes to and from work.

Being physically apart also allowed us to connect with and get to know our co-workers and clients on a more personal level. It was more than just exposing our home-office background on video meetings. Kids and family pets were part of business video calls and often a welcome relief from the everyday business items being discussed. Meetings often started with conversations about pandemic news, sincere inquiries of how families were adjusting and discussions of the SIP mandates, which differed at anyone time and from country to country, and state to state. Meetings would end with well wishes shared that everyone stay healthy and safe.

Thanks to Internet connectivity, we could connect more humanly despite being physically disconnected, giving us hope that we can continue to do so in 2021 and beyond.

It was the age of wisdom and foolishness.

Reliable network connectivity and the SIP mandates also meant that we were home and online more. Throughout the year, the presidential campaign, election, and civil unrest drove more people to social media platforms to debate and share opinions and frustrations. While many social media conversations were productive, allowing people to share their perspectives and experiences, some discussions became contentious and turned into heated debates that left both sides of the discussion even more divided.

What’s next, and where can we better?

The latest COVID surge and SIP mandates likely mean that there will be more darkness and the worst of times for the short-term. But there is hope. At Engage PR, we’re proud of our telecom clients and of the overall telecom industry that kept us connected during these trying times. Connectivity powered the conversation when the world was dark and will continue to do so, as the telecom industry continues to innovate, improve, and learn what worked and didn’t work in 2020.

As a veteran in the communication industry, my hope for 2021 is to continue appreciating the value that connectivity and communications can provide. We also need to appreciate that there is an opportunity to be open (as the telecom and tech industry is working toward), listen and acknowledge a different perspective and learn when a conflict arises, it is also is an opportunity to learn and be a better human.

In 2021 I also hope to see efforts for more diversity in the telecom industry with executives and C-levels that look more like the businesses and people they serve, with an increase in hiring women and people of color. That means opening up hiring practices that are attractive to women and people of color and embracing more Diversity Equality and Inclusion (DEI) practices into their business.

2020 presented us with lots of challenges and opportunities that may help us all be better people and communicators. As a PR and communication professional, I hope to continue to see more change in 2021 for the better.

We, at Engage PR, wish everyone a healthy, safe and prosperous 2021.


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