It's been a struggle to write this note, which is supposed to celebrate Inc.'s annual Best Workplaces awards. BWP, as we call it internally, is long planned, and popular with readers, and we look forward to producing the issue in which the winners are named. But now everything is different, of course.

My writerly struggles began when I lost a few days of work to a fever, 102 degrees--too high to think, let alone write. Still home and feeling better with no other symptoms a few days later, I resumed writing only to learn that several officemates tested positive for Covid-19. We stopped everything and closed our office, figuring out how to report, write, edit, and photograph Inc. and from home. We turned to worrying about our colleagues, too.

It was the same kind of struggle that I know so many of you have experienced.

There's concern about the team, fumbling through new workflows where or if you can, worry about accounts due and whether there'll be any receivables at all, wondering how long the suffering and the shutdown will last and whether there's solvency or ruin on the other side. Dreams got shattered and the lives of people who help us--you and me--disrupted beyond imagination as the pandemic spread across the country.

I have to admit I felt uncomfortable, at first, continuing to produce this issue at this time. Best Workplaces? When some workplaces are literally boarded up?

But then, in my home office or sometimes on the couch or at the kitchen table, I'd read some of the stories the Inc. team had gathered.

I have always liked my various actual offices. They've been something of a comfortable home away from home. A place I didn't mind being. Even, sometimes, a place I longed for on a dreary Sunday afternoon. But it took being forced out of the office and into the stories in this issue--and a lot of Zoom meetings with people less guarded, a toddler or a pet peeking into the frame or the glimpse of a photo of a spouse who had passed--to realize that it wasn't the physical place that was my good fortune. I realized how it was the people in my office, and certainly the kind of people at the Best Workplaces, who mattered.

I realized how, despite our current adversity, companies such as AlertMedia, MX, and Buildertrend still make the United States a beacon of innovation, and how, when even our government stumbles, people like Julia Cheek and her team at Everlywell lead. I realized how, now more than ever, we needed to tell their stories and celebrate them.

So here's hoping that your workplace is like ours, like the Best Workplaces and those throughout this package. And, even more, here's to getting back into them as soon as we safely can--not because that's where work is, but because it's home to the folks who matter.

P.S. That photo up there? That's our morning meeting and some of the team at Inc. who matter to me.