What was your “last good day” in the office? This idea of a “last good day” is explored in a poignant article in this week’s The Atlantic which reflects back to the time before terms like social distancing, positivity rates, vaccinations, and masks were foremost on everyone’s mind.
We’ve been thinking about our last days in the office and, as today marks COVID-19 Global Pandemic Day (the day COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic), we’re reminiscing too. By March 11, 2020, COVID-19 had, of course, already devastated parts of Asia, Italy, and was spreading quickly across the Pacific Northwest. But for those of us in the South Shore, March 11 is the day that most of us in the region remember as the “last good day” before offices started to switch to remote work, and we all had to stock up on hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Natalie Chandler, Director of Staffing
As March 11th came and went, I remember feeling a little nervous about what was to come but assumed we’d be out for just a couple of weeks before things could go back to normal. Transitioning our employees to work from home (WFH) was relatively easy as our clients had their own plans in place and maintained direct communication with our employees. We worked hard to make sure that any of our employees who were working for essential businesses (and thus staying in the office) felt comfortable doing so. Our clients were excellent and prepared as best as any of us could be.
Being home full time was very challenging and felt like Groundhog Day at times (and still feels like that sometimes!). Business slowed significantly as companies weren’t sure how things would play out, so they were hesitant to hire; some were unfortunately forced to lay off/furlough their employees.
I remember sitting at my kitchen table on my first WFH day trying to get organized and feeling very out of sorts. Then I remember seeing something about using an ironing board as a stand-up desk so I tried that one day and lasted about 20 minutes. I do not recommend it.
The first video interviews felt awkward but knowing that we’re all in this together helped ease a lot of the anxiety.
On my lunch breaks, I’d take my dog for a walk and bump into neighbors who were also working from home. We were all in the same state of shock and wonder about the future and how weird it was being home all day, every day. But if we did go anywhere, traffic was a breeze!
After about a month or two, I started coming back into the office a couple days a week as our offices were empty, and I enjoyed the change of scenery. Eventually we started alternating days we’d be in, but we’ve been closed to visitors for a whole year.
Steve Allen, Managing Director
I remained in the office beyond March 11th to insure our systems were working properly and to serve as a sort of “home base” for anyone who might need access to a file or piece of information they’d left behind in their desks, I was there alone until March 24th when Governor Baker announced the shutdown rules for Massachusetts non-essential businesses. I remember having more questions than answers as to what lay ahead. The Governor’s initial order was for a two-week closure, but no one knew for sure how long it would or could last.
At that time we had no idea how devastating the virus would prove to be.
As a company, we were able to pretty quickly prepare for and implement remote operations; having ‘weathered’ several major New England storms where we worked remotely for a day or two turned out to be good practice!
We were very concerned about our working temporary employees in the field, our clients, and of course our team because COVID-19 was no joke and, as we were learning, highly contagious.
We did our best to maintain regular communication with our field employees and our clients throughout the coming months, and we are grateful to be here one year later reminding everyone that we’re still doing what we’ve done so well for over 17 years!
Our March 2020 letter to announce our office closure
Lisa Corrigan, President
Back in March 2020, I was not yet the president of South Shore Staffing but remember this time as a big blur of activity. Having just lost my father, I was juggling my own work as well as kids who were coming home from school, excited to have some “time off”.
I went into my office that Monday and worked all week trying do everything I could to prepare for the unknown. The unknown became fully remote work, new business models, and just plain survival mode.
At my last company, we had temps who had to work throughout the entire pandemic because some clients were essential and never closed. It was hard and scary, but we did everything we could to insure that our temps felt safe through this difficult and often sad time.
Never in a million years did I think we would be here a year later.
Christina Refford, Marketing Specialist
Last year, I was actually employed as a temporary employee for one of South Shore Staffing’s clients. The office was nervous at the start of that week, and I remember the office manager spent even more time each morning wiping down door knobs, light switches, phone receivers, and desks with disinfectant wipes.
There was a feeling that things were about to change quickly, though we had no idea how quickly that would be. The owner of the company had attended a funeral previous Tuesday and expressed concern the next day in the office that so many people had hugged him!
On Thursday, I finished my work day and went home. A few hours later, the controller gave me a call and told me that they had decided to put me on hold for a couple of weeks because of concerns over the virus. I believe they ended up closing up the office entirely a few days after that and switching to fully remote. Even now, a year later, they are not completely back to “normal” and have split their office into two locations to be able to spread their employees out.
While I was disappointed to leave this job, it ended up being a blessing in disguise as it freed me to come work directly, for South Shore Staffing in late May! So, while the pandemic was incredibly hard and scary at times, I have been so glad to be able to work virtually with Natalie, Steve, Linda, and now Lisa.
And now, a year later, our offices are beginning to open back up, with air purifiers running full time, and staff meetings conducted via Google Meet instead of us all sitting around the table in the conference room. We’re pleased that we have made it through a challenging year and have come out even stronger, with lots of exciting plans for the near future.
Natalie sums things up for us all when she says, “Staffing is, at its core, a people business. Losing the face-to-face interviews with job seekers and not being able to visit clients has been challenging. Zoom interviews work in the meantime, but there’s nothing like sitting across from a job seeker, listening to their story and making a connection. I can’t wait to do that all again!”
We’re feeling a lot more optimistic about the year ahead.
If you’d like to talk to us about a new job or have staffing needs for your own company, please give us a call at (781) 575-0500.