Society has faced massive changes in the past year. That means workplaces have, too. It has affected us individually and collectively, with a pandemic keeping many professionals home, and a racial justice movement demanding action around DEI initiatives and accountability from public institutions.
Let’s take a moment to take stock. Technical.ly and Generocity recently asked readers to tell us: How is your community better or worse than it was in February 2020?
Now, in tech and business, we know that “community” goes beyond companies. It could be the people you work with, or the people who share your ideals, or who you build with in your free time. It could also be your geographic community. We told folks to answer as they saw fit.
This is a topic we’ll explore further at our Introduced by Technical.ly, the daylong conference that introduces you to the ideas, people and opportunities that build better companies, on Thursday, May 13. It’s happening as part of the 11th annual Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast, running May 7 through 15.
Below, check out our favorite responses.
“In some ways, the community of connections I had in February 2020 has seemed to deteriorate at times during the last year. This was especially pronounced on social media: People were stuck at home, consuming news obsessively and shooting from the hip too much on e.g. Facebook. I saw sides of some folks that can’t be un-seen.
On the other hand, there are a lot of reasons to be excited moving forward. As some individuals have revealed that they’re not people I want to be surrounding myself with, I’ve also sought out new connections who are. I joined REC Philly out of a strong desire to be around the kind of people who inspire me. I’ve become emboldened to break free from the corporate ‘golden handcuffs.’ I’ve crystallized my own professional purpose in life after 34 years: to take part in empowering people who would historically have otherwise been bullied by unjust power imbalances.
In this sense, I’ve seen a realignment and of community in my own life. My instincts to seek out the community I want have been sharpened and been motivated to take action.”
- Mike Lamb, full-stack cloud developer (Audubon, New Jersey)
“With the overwhelming success of Operation Warp Speed, we have developed three vaccines for COVID-19 in a third of the time period normally experienced. The vaccines have rushed us back to normalcy from the lockdown [which] imposed forced hibernation that caused trillions of dollars of damages. Now both business deals and personal socializing have returned in full force so unquestionably life is far better than a year ago.”
- Jeffrey B. Rotwitt, CEO of Sun Center Studios (Aston, Pennsylvania)
“As a recent immigrant, something that amazes me about the USA is how ‘community’ can be a fluid term, and something you can expand upon, if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Over the past couple of months, I searched for some volunteering opportunities and managed to help out in a food bank organized by a church — though I’m not Christian — and to help with the set up and organization of a COVID-19 vaccination center in Chinatown — though I’m not of Asian descent. In both instances, I was very happy (and relieved, truth be told) that I was accepted, no questions asked.
Having said that, it’s also important to note that I was met with some apprehension and was asked by different people where I’m originally from and where my accent is from (to the point that the friend I was volunteering with noticed these questions, with some dismay). It is also equally important, especially during these times, to mention that I have the privilege to be white-passing. It saddens me that such a thing even exists, but I see it to be true and felt it was important to call that out. I believe communities can always be improved and their bonds strengthened; if we’re all a bit more accepting and open to others. America is truly a melting pot, and it’s amazing to witness that, and be a part of it.”
- May AlKhraisha, customer success manager at OpenForge (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
“My professional community is the biotech sector. It generally did very well during the pandemic, given the rise in public interest and investment. Nature biotechnology has great longitudinal data on investment.
The City of Baltimore suffered unemployment, similar to other areas. However, recently, the housing market appears to be overheating. This could be a sign of economic recovery continuing to accelerate. There’s also a rise in commercial laboratory development projects, suggesting that commercial real estate is pivoting to life sciences, instead of traditional office space.”
- Ernesto Chanona, director of business development for CSSi LifeSciences (Baltimore, Maryland)
“I think people are just nicer and more neighborly. It sounds homey, but I’ve noticed people just seem to look out for each other and end up in more conversations in the street than I remember previously. I like the feeling of knowing we’re all looking out for each other just a bit more than we might have been before.”
- Peter Yeargin, CEO of Sage (Wynnewood, Pennsylvania)
“My 500-unit apartment building has done what I consider a truly remarkable job in protecting residents. Management installed a sink in the lobby, so contactless handwashing has been available since March or April of 2020; they provided appropriate protection for front-desk staff, so that they were less vulnerable; they required all of us to wear masks from the moment we left our apartments, whether simply emptying our trash, or using elevators, etc; they limited us to two people per elevator; and we were informed regularly by management about how the building was faring. Within the last month (April 2021) we were able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 right in the building. All that said, it takes the cooperation of everyone in the building to keep residents and staff equally well protected. I think the community rose to the occasion.”
- Peggy Curchack, retired (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Pros and cons
“It’s worse because there is a lot less in-person interactions and this is in my opinion detrimental to relationships in general. I also think that people have now even more reasons to fear others instead of happily meeting people and not wondering where they were, if they are safe, etc.
I have also been unable to go back to my home country to spend time with my family and to see my nephew that was born a few months ago because of all of this.
However it is also better because we can connect to new people thanks to the online world that before seemed to have been overlooked. People do not need to travel one hour to meet but can just hop on a Zoom call. At my work, many participants became able to join our program because they didn’t have to commute to our offices.”
People being people
“It’s the same. I believe that we have a journey in front of us that not many are willing to take. The required involvement mandates that we look internally at what has manifested. What we currently face, we must accept that as a whole, we don’t really have answers to a generations-long problem — ‘people doing people things’! That concept has long been the bane of our existence and will unfortunately, continue through the course of life — unless WE change!”
- DJ Bryant, CIO of LM Bryant Consulting (Claymont, Delaware)