January 5, 2021
Jacki Hart Welcome 2021! I think we’re all hopeful that by the end of this year, Covid protocols will be fading into memory, and we will be picking up where we left off last March in all aspects of our lives. To start this new year, I’d like to offer a retrospective on what I believe are some of the surviving legacies of the pandemic year gone by:

A refreshed focus on health and safety: Last April, LO president, Dave Wright said, “We must become safety companies who do landscaping.” Dave was right, and together as a community of professionals, we answered that call.

Covid-19 forced the leaders of every company to look inward and take stock of the processes used to communicate and train health and safety policies and processes. Everyone engaged in conversations around why, how and when PPE and various protocols were to be used. This provided a lens through which to review how our teams uphold and embrace other company policies (or not). The net effect placed health and safety at the front of our minds, exactly where it belongs.

Being resourceful in finding facts, resources and templates: We found the appropriate conduits of information and facts. Starting with the LO Covid-19 Task Force, and trickling onto every members’ desktop, online became the gateway for how to keep moving forward. Together, we opened channels of communication and mentorship with peers to find the fast track for sourcing PPE, policies, processes and protocols to manage the risks of Covid to staff, customers and the community. Together, we learned to ignore the rumours and suss out the facts.

Communicating like never before: I think the most important lesson from the pandemic year is Zoom. If you had never used Zoom or attended an online webinar, you’ve likely done so by now. Whatever online video platform you chose, my guess is that it’s transformed your comfort level with being on live on camera in a virtual room with others, or in a sidebar chat.

Who knew we’d be where we are now? None of us ever thought then that we’d be unable to be back at Congress in person this year. And we’ve adapted fairly well I think. When I look back at 2019 and early 2020 – it was like pulling teeth without anesthetic trying to get landscapers to meet me online in a video call. Now – it’s no sweat. I’m proud for the steep learning curve you’ve all jumped onto, and how well you’ve adapted. I can only guess at the ways in which these new-found communication platforms have opened up your efficiencies and effectiveness at communicating with your team, your clients and suppliers.

Communication was key throughout the pandemic — especially in the early days – the ‘essential/non-essential’ days. Remember that? And the legacy is your new-found comfort online.

Pivoting and moving forward purposefully: Being nimble and maintaining forward momentum with hope was key to surviving the pandemic — adapt, adapt, adapt. Tomorrow, adapt again. Those of you who embraced that, in all of its weirdness, are the ones who navigated the issues laid at your feet with the least amount of stress and fewest mistakes. Flexibility and creativity ruled the decision-making process.

There’s a lesson in this for us all. Pushing up against something we can’t control is unhelpful, and wildly stressful. Moving quickly to acceptance, assessment and action was the way to move forward.

The countless leaders in our profession stepped up. Too many to name them all here… some shining examples:

Many of you listened to Mark Bradley calmly walk you through revising an LMN budget for a worst case scenario to ensure your company survived. Or maybe you heard George Uvari’s "Red, Amber and Green Budget" plan, or Sally Harvey’s weekly update on government programs and changing policies. You may have watched some of LO's Town Hall meetings or attended some of LO's Peer Network Coffee Chats. Maybe you tuned in to some of the countless LO webinars providing expert insights and advice. The LO team were (and still are) incredible!

The truth is that many leaders in our profession came together to help each other and to map a path forward using creativity, trust and empathy when we all needed it the most. It’s these lessons from 2020 that we take forward into 2021: health and safety, resourcefulness, communication, flexibility, creativity, trust, empathy and hope.

When I look back to a year ago, most of us attended Congress. We networked, shook hands, and attended packed info sessions. We laughed, we hugged, we socialized in busy bars and ball rooms. And while this  years’ Congress Connect is very different, I know for sure that we are all much better equipped to adapt and respond to whatever comes our way. We are stronger together.

Bring it on 2021! We’ve got each other’s backs.

Landscape Ontario member business owners can join the LO Peer to Peer Network for free.
To participate in private online discussions, email  signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager