We Miss You!
/ Author: Gordon O'Coin
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We Miss You!

One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic is not seeing our members face to face

By Gord O'Coin, Regional Director

No matter what industry you work in, every workplace across Canada has been impacted over the past year. Some industries have been required to close, others have been on the front lines dealing with Covid, while many others have shifted to a work-at-home environment.

Everyone has been drastically affected by the shifting of workplace practices to manage in these difficult times. We have all experienced significant changes in our lives and work. Over the past year, it seems the only certainty has been that change is the only thing we can continue to expect.

The work of the union has equally been affected. Our daily work has been impacted significantly over the past fourteen months. Managing with the ever-changing government regulations has had its impacts both positive and negative.

Our work revolves around our members, people, and providing a service that sets us apart from other unions. Stay-at-home orders and limits on gatherings have limited our ability and required us to adapt and use new ways to communicate. Prior to the pandemic, we were constantly physically present in workplaces—meeting with members, holding labour management meetings in person, and hosting membership meetings for the entire workplace all in one room.

Meeting in person allows the union to connect with each member, bargaining unit, stewards committee, and employers to resolve labour relations matters in a more efficient and effective manner. Being physically present allows the real-time discussions and solutions to manifest in a way that was more personable and perhaps more effective than in this new technologically dependent climate.

Depending on the restrictions in place throughout the various provinces, we are required more and more to use technology to communicate. Phone calls, texts, email, and virtual meetings are our main methods of communication. While I am very thankful for this technology, the use of technology does not replace the benefits of in-person gatherings. Being able to meet in person allows us to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with each other. It allows us to be present and hear about your work, the project, and day-to-day matters. 

Being in person has so many benefits that we took for granted and didn’t really consider before the pandemic. When people meet face-to-face, they are less likely to be distracted by everything happening around them. One study I recently came across suggested that in-person meetings increase the chance of someone saying “yes” because it’s easier to say “no” over the phone or by email. Building relationships and addressing certain issues and concerns tends to be easier when we are present.

While the use of technology has made our lives more convenient, the limits of social gatherings have impacted our lives. Not being able to meet in person, hear about your work, or even get together as one large bargaining unit to discuss a significant labour relations matter in person has been challenging in the work we do.

As we begin to open up across Canada, we hope that we will be able to return to many of these in-person gatherings that we miss. We hope that the next area of change is a shift back to in-person gatherings and being wholly present in the moment.

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