COVID-19: A year in reflection

By Nicole Fracasso, OSCPA communications intern 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the primary objective for many organizations has been the safety of their employees and clients alike. 

Woman smiling for camera.

“The safety of our associates has always been our top priority as we manage through the pandemic,” said Taylor McGowen, CPA, corporate development controller at Nationwide. “In mid-March 2020, we successfully pivoted to a work-from-home environment for 98% of our associates.” 

While remote work has been a huge topic this past year, businesses have also been focused on maintaining clear communication during this time. 

“I have a huge laundry list of things that we did. We really increased our communications with our employees and our clients,” said Angela McDermott, director of operations at Kaiser Consulting. “We also created policies and procedures around the guidance from the CDC and the state and local health departments.” 

In addition to cleaning the office and implementing new procedures, McDermott said they created a detailed back to business spreadsheet to address what impact the coronavirus may have on different aspects of business and how to communicate them. 

Woman smiling for camera.

Kris Hagedorn, vice president and controller at MPLX, a master limited partnership sponsored by Marathon Petroleum Corporation, said they were able to implement a Threat Assessment Group (TAG) into their response plan.  

“Within TAG’s overall response is a focus on ensuring employees are kept up to date with frequent communications via the company intranet, signage throughout buildings, videos demonstrating proper mask etiquette, computer-based training modules and weekly text messages with a self-screen list of symptoms employees must review before coming to the offices,” he said. 

Kaiser Consulting, MPLX and Nationwide all took part in the Coalition to Stop the Spread, a statewide pledge for organizations to do their part in preventing further spread of the virus. 

“We’re all experiencing uncertainty in our lives that we could never have imagined,” McGowen said. “By wearing masks, washing our hands and getting vaccinated, we can all do our part to shut down this virus and help our families, friends, neighbors and Ohio’s robust business community emerge from this challenging pandemic.” 

Man smiling for camera.

While this past year has been anything but easy, all three organizations said there are some aspects they will carry with them as they begin to move forward. 

“Some things we will take forward with us would be to meet quickly to assess the situation and determine a path forward and focus on honest and heartfelt communication with our clients and employees,” McDermott said. “Always put safety first, remember to be flexible and help where needed.” 

In addition, McGowen said Nationwide is well positioned to emerge stronger on the other side of the pandemic. 

“One of the many lessons we will be carrying forward is the importance of transparency,” she said. “For all the negatives of the pandemic, it did help us move faster with increased transparency, and the result was more trust at all levels of the organization.” 

The way we do business may not go back to the way it used to be. Instead, it is time to consider what this new normal may look like. 

“The pandemic has impacted everyone. Our employees, our leaders, our communities and families. So many things are different now,” Hagedorn said. “On an on-going basis we assess what is working and what is not and adjust work schedules and activities accordingly.”