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Contributed by BSCAI

Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine exists only in the movies, but if CleanOffice President and CEO Greg Buchner could get behind the wheel, aided by 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, and rev up to 88 miles per hour, he knows what message he'd deliver to his pre-pandemic self.

"Get ready to be flexible, adjustable and supportive," says Buchner, who is also on BSCAI's Board of Directors. "We all love routines, playbooks and guidelines, but in 2020, all that went out the window and we had to be ready to work on the fly every day."

Roughly a year after much of the country shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, things aren't back to normal quite yet. In fact, Buchner describes the first few months of 2021 as "extra innings or overtime" from 2020, as opposed to feeling like an actual new year. But even though daily life hasn't yet returned to the pre-pandemic normal, Buchner thinks there are reasons for optimism this year.

One major reason for optimism is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Buchner monitors vaccine progress and COVID-19 infection numbers on a daily basis, and says the progress has been promising. He is cautiously hopeful that things will look much better by midsummer, and foresees a complete return to normal in the next 12 months. Though Buchner tempers that optimism by pointing out the goalposts have been pushed back before, he says it would be great to have more in-person contact in the coming months.

"By nature, building service contracts are people-people, and we thrive on seeing our workers in action and working hand-in-hand with our clients to build and cultivate our relationships," Buchner says. "I think we're all excited to get back to our client sites."

In addition to getting back to physical job sites, Buchner is looking forward to the return of live BSCAI events, starting with the Executive Management Conference in Fort Lauderdale later this month, and continuing with November's Contracting Success conference in Las Vegas.

While the first few months of 2021 may have largely felt like leftovers from 2020, Buchner says he has noticed one significant change so far this year. 2020 was all about surviving each day as it came, but BSCs and business leaders are thinking more strategically this year.

"After 12 months of just trying to survive day to day, week to week, I think we're actually starting to look up off the horizon, 30, 60, 90+ days ahead," Buchner says.

As part of that more long-term strategic thinking, Buchner is considering the new challenges that might arise this year. He has identified two situations that BSCs should monitor in the coming months.

First, Buchner believes there may be delayed consequences from clients as a result of last year's budgets and spending. He points out that many clients were willing to spend whatever was necessary to ensure their properties, facilities and people were protected against COVID-19 last year. This year, Buchner thinks there is a chance clients will sharply curtail spending wherever possible to course-correct their budgets.

Second, Buchner advises BSCs to keep an eye on the commercial real estate market. With many companies considering downsizing their office space, there could be consequences for BSCs contracted to clean these offices.

One thing is for sure: 2021 will provide its own set of opportunities and challenges. Through it all, Buchner says, BSCAI will be here to help its members.

"Being behind the scenes, I can say everything is done with the thought of how we bring value to our members," Buchner says.

In addition to the return of live events, he adds that there are other things BSCAI members should be excited for in the months ahead.

"Behind the scenes, activity is brewing to bring members content, education and resources relevant to getting our businesses back into gear," Buchner says. "With this in mind, BSC leaders should be excited and ready to take advantage of the return of live events along with virtual programming so that we can get back to doing what we love… being people-people."