Oh, what a year 2020 has been. It’s the Twilight Zone in need of a Doctor (Doctor Who), but the Terminator is everywhere. That’s really the best way to describe our year living with COVID. The uncertainty, the constant change, the fear, and the politics of 2020 have been intense. But we made it through it all!
2020 was projected as a year of major growth for SINGH! Many strategic investments from 2019, plus a year into our transition was to yield great things. While we realized some of our potential and all those things are still possible, the pace of that growth was slowed. This past year began with an expansion of our office space, now sadly empty, and the addition of key staff. Little did any of us realize we would be fleeing our offices to the sanctuary of our homes in March. Fortunately, we had the IT infrastructure in place to stay up and running with everyone set up with remote access. We even onboarded new hires virtually. I never thought I would see that happen.
As an industry, we have proven our ability to pivot and be efficient in a remote environment. We have been truly fortunate to continue working. We are still pursuing and winning work. However, getting contracts in place and securing NTP has been the struggle. 2021 will be a realization of all that is yet to begin.
The pandemic slowed down incoming cash and we were fortunate to receive small business loans offered under the CARES Act. Our agency Clients have been committed to keeping projects going. Things slowed down but projects were not stopped. IDOT agreed that they would continue to push the Rebuild Illinois Plan without cutting funding even with a significant dip in motor fuel tax revenue in the spring. All of this, coupled with so much uncertainty, forced us to change and adopt new lifestyles.
While we know now that working from home in the AEC industry is possible – the office is not dead yet! The flexibility that working from home allows is attractive to all of us. 2021 will challenge us to find the right combination of in-office time and work flexibility. Over the past year, we learned that there is something to being home more and slowing down a bit. While we all want to get back into being social and seeing friends, none of us miss the commute. That bit of extra time has allowed people to flourish in new ways. Some are enjoying nature more; others have picked up hobbies. It is amazing how much more creativity many of us have found. It took an unseen virus to make us slow down and take stock of what we are fortunate to have.
The trends for 2021 will be marked with much tragedy and triumph. The economic recovery we need will be uneven and unpredictable. While we have a vaccine, who takes it and who is able to take it will be a global issue. Those of us with technology using professions will see an even more fast paced tech-celebration. We have seen the benefits of zoom meetings and online learning. We realize that tele-health might not be that bad. Which trends remain and which go to the wayside remain to be seen. Let’s hope that 2021 is not the year of Déjà vu. Do we want a 2020 take two? Do we want to relive the things we missed, or do we want to forge ahead, celebrate, and do things differently?
We will have to navigate 2021 with a new vision. We must move forward with boundless optimism. There is much to be done and realized. 2020 forced change where there was complacency. 2020 also changed the fortunes for so many. It is even more important that we move forward with generosity and kindness. 2021 is here. Let’s embark on a new year with renewed hope.
by Harvind K. Singh | President