Celebrating A New Way to Work on Labour Day
You may not know that Labour Day is a Canadian-derived holiday. Sure, the U.S. made it an official holiday in 1892, while Canada took a couple more years to set it up officially, but it was an unofficial celebration in Canada for two decades before that.
And we also spell “Labour” correctly.
But here we are 126 years later and, partly mandated by a global pandemic, we are revisiting the nature of labour. For many, 2020 has afforded us an opportunity to evaluate the very nature of work.
Obviously, we’re lucky that we work in a digital environment where we have the luxury of allowing for remote work. We’ve also been forced to innovate -- to find new remote digital solutions to accomplish tasks that traditionally involved in-person interaction.
And you know what? It’s made us better. We’ve been able to find ways to deliver high-value services in a way that may be more accessible to far-flung clients; we’ve been able to speed delivery, in some cases, through on-the-fly collaboration; and we’ve been able to integrate more people into our project process simply because adding someone to a Zoom meeting is far more cost-effective than having to pay for travel and accommodation to a meeting.
It’s allowed us to work smarter, better, and more efficiently. It’s allowed us to discover new ways to provide additional value to our clients -- and to provide better options for different layers of engagement.
Traditionally, organizations have been reluctant to fully embrace remote work for many reasons -- concerns about productivity, accountability, and the impact on team-building. Yet many organizations, like ours, have found out that these concerns can be overcome, and organizations have found success.
Obviously, there are benefits and there are challenges. And working from home doesn’t work for everyone. Some people don’t enjoy working in solitude and love the social interaction that an office environment provides. However, embracing working from home enables a broader acceptance of remote work, so talent acquisition and retention can be augmented.
Currently, we’re in a hybrid situation wherein we have a few people back in the office as part of our return-to-work strategy post-COVID, and a majority of our staff is still working from home. Client meetings are still remote, but eventually will come a day when we’re travelling for meetings. And let’s not forget the integration of both Northern Commerce and Digital Echidna into one combined company -- how that workforce looks in the future is constantly evolving.
As Echidnas, we adhere to the principles of being unique, adaptive, and flexible. This pandemic has really forced us to walk the walk (or, I guess as echidnas move, waddle the waddle.) We’ve succeeded more often than we’ve failed. We’ve been able to keep the business moving and we’re delivering high-quality work to our clients. And it’s all because we’ve been willing to be flexible in exploring how we define and execute “work.”
That said, we know our story is a more positive one than many people during this time have experienced. We all know friends, families, and loved ones who have been unable to work for months now. We know businesses that already were struggling with razor-thin margins in the restaurant and retail industries may not recover from the impact of the pandemic. And we know that the impacts (both ongoing and residual) of COVID-19 will be felt in our economy for years to come.
At its heart, Labour Day is about promoting workers’ rights and advocating for changes to improve the lives of working people and their families. Now, more than ever, we need to be committed to those ideals, revisit how we work, and be innovative in how we address the challenges that we’re facing.
I know we can do it. Canada was ahead of the game when it came to Labour Day and we’re going to be at the vanguard of the next generation of work.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at Digital Echidna, I hope you get to spend some time with friends, families, and loved ones on this long weekend.