Less than two months ago, all signs pointed to a safe reopening of businesses, government, and other public places in North America following eight weeks of restrictions. I recall a real sense of urgency, even as Accela prioritized and published our playbook. You see, while ample guidance documentation existed for restaurants, barber shops, and traditional offices to reopen with safe accommodations, we found nothing guiding the considerations for the reopening of state and local governments.
Leap forward to July and we can see a reluctant rush to reverse or slow the course of reopening in light of rising infection rates. This situation is amplified and distorted by daily political posturing, not to mention the frustrations of business operators who, having invested already in reopening accommodations, must again close their doors and potentially furlough or lay-off employees.
In some cities, our government offices reopened briefly, only to shut down again. In other cities and departments, the reopening project never accomplished its goal; the doors stayed locked.
Government, Always Essential
We’ve learned the phrase Essential Worker. From healthcare to energy, and from public safety to financial services, we’ve come to understand what we cannot do without.
It cannot be said too often: Thank you to our essential workers who, among many other stresses, put themselves and their families at higher risk for contracting this virus. The stories of their sacrifices resound, and we applaud you.
And it’s not just jobs and workers that are essential, there are also essential services, systems, protections, and even community expectations. Wearing a mask in public and maintaining proper spacing, is essential. Government is always essential.
Government Services / Navigating the Surge
As we have stated previously, the reopening journey differs for every region. States such as California are already re-imposing restrictions on businesses. So, what of the essential government services?
We should take solace in the fact that the underlying plans and accommodations to reopen have not changed. The plans we made in May will still apply, but on an adjusted schedule.
Through the pandemic, technology has been a savior; kids continue to learn, doctors continue to advise their patients, and, thank goodness, many of us can still fill our calendars with (Zoom) meetings. It’s not the same, but it’s more the same than anybody predicted.
And so, the computer systems – the cloud-based software, the computers, and the networks – that enable work-from-home, telemedicine, and our business operations are essential. In fact, the technical capabilities are the deep bedrock supporting millions of ongoing endeavors, including those government services which are, in fact, essential.
While specific timeframes and dates are elusive, we know that the surge will withdraw and restrictions will be lifted. When that time arrives, the good work our state and local governments are doing now will influence the new, more technically in-tune, capabilities of offices nationwide.