April 3, 2020


Canadian Arborists and Arborists around the world find themselves in precarious territory and have been forced along with almost every industry to make major adjustments on how work continues. Regardless of our professional roles, most of us are still trying to find stable ground to plant our feet on after what is probably the most transformative few weeks in memory. Acknowledging the struggle and uncertainty is an important first step for everyone still working. We all know friends and family members that have been displaced from their employment. If you don’t already know someone directly or indirectly that has contracted the illness, it’s unlikely that will be the case for much longer.

As Arboriculture and Urban Forestry businesses and departments reboot, react, or pause, consideration of the stress and hardships people in your workplace might be silently enduring requires sober second thought before carrying on business as usual. Meaningful, transparent and frequent communications are of the utmost importance with members of your team. I have never found myself so irritated by hollow buzzword-filled engagements, and I’m not alone. Marketing one’s business as being social-distancing compatible is a decision that may turn out to be perilous to staff and clients. Your coworkers and clients are watching the news unfold at multiple times each day, and they are constantly analyzing actions taken by their employer that might impact health, safety, and job security.

What can you do to support your own or your coworkers’ feelings of helplessness, paranoia, uncertainty, stress and anxiety? Control whatever is in your reach to make the situation safer and more sustainable for you, your coworkers and your clients. Reach outside your workplace to the larger professional network much in the way you are already reaching out to family and friends. Establish simplified contingency plans and frequently revisit them. Focus on work that has meaning and discuss with the team why that work has meaningful. Resist the urge to produce extraneous paper. Find ways to change the workflow to keep your team’s mental health intact. Champion creative contributions and move quickly to innovate and adapt. Model the behaviour and actions you wish to see more of.