A Brave, New Post COVID Workforce

COVID-19 has taught us many lessons in many forms. It has undoubtedly reshaped the way we do business. Aside from the health implications of the virus, it has impacted the workforce greater than any other sector. And, of course, this has had a major impact on the economy as a whole.

As many businesses are beginning to open back up, the exact toll of the virus on the employment sector has not been completely realized. There are many nuisances that we are currently faced with that will continue to challenge business operations for years to come. There are likewise many positive lessons that we will continue to implement when the virus is long gone and in our distant memories.

Here a few ways that COVID-19 has and will continue to impact the workforce…

Remote Work Environments

Given the success that many organizations have had with moving their workforce almost completely online, it is likely that the same organizations will increasingly embrace a remote workforce. This phenomenon is certainly not new, however, it’s ability to be successful has been overwhelmingly proven during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown. Many employers have now realized the value of remote work environments as they have been able to see the impact of such work spaces on their bottom line. They have been able to save money on space, electricity, equipment, etc.

Virtual Workforce

On one hand a number of employers had to invest heavily in virtual meeting platforms like Skype, Zoom, etc. in order to keep their organizations afloat. On the other hand these same employers were able to save money on costs associated with hosting employees in one or more physical locations.

Additionally employers saw an increase in employee productivity, morale, and retention as organizations were able to accommodate their employees with remote work schedules. When employees work in remote environments they experience fewer workplace related distractions that often result in low productivity. They also gain valuable time not having to travel back and forth to work, which also improves productivity.

Additionally, many workers were forced to stay home during this pandemic to care for children and other shut-in loved ones who required round-the-clock care. The ability to work remotely was a major blessing for them. They could maintain their employment while being able to care for their loved ones, which also boosted their confidence in their organizations. Given the benefits that both employers and employees have realized through the increase in remote or virtual work environments, it is most likely that this trend is here to stay and increase.

Financial and Retirement Planning

As stated earlier, the economy was one of the hardest hit sectors due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Global and national economies have been hit quite hard as evidenced by a very bearish stock market. Undoubtedly these economic woes have reverberated to individuals and families at almost every socioeconomic level. A number of people have been left unemployed, underemployed, furloughed, or otherwise facing uncertain economic times.

Saving, investing, and financial planning

This pandemic was certainly a wake-up call for individuals with poor money management skills. Many people learned very hard, first-hand lessons on how important it is to save, invest, and plan for the future. They saw just how devastating it can be to not have money stored away to fall back on during difficult financial times.

Thus, another way in which COVID-19 has changed the workforce is in the realm of financial and retirement planning. While this may not change how the average person works, it will definitely change how they interact with their earnings. More and more people have realized the benefit and necessity to save and invest in emergency funds and retirement plans.

So there will most likely be major growth in the financial and retirement planning sectors as more people scramble to store away for the future. Financial coaches, advisors, and planners are likely to see a surge in new clients. Even more, they will probably see an upturn in non-traditional clientele as individuals from all walks of life make efforts to improve their financial future.

Career Changes

COVID-19 has shone a glaring spotlight on the viability of almost every employment sector in the developed world. Through this pandemic we have been able to see which jobs have staying power and which ones don’t. This pandemic has been a definite call-to-action for individuals who were underemployed and for those who work in transitional employment sectors.

COVID Unemployment

This crisis has led many to the unemployment and/or interview line in a desperate attempt to secure their financial future. The fact that these individuals have been left without jobs says a great deal about the need for workers in certain industries. Governmental shutdowns almost exclusively targeted non-essential industries, which ultimately means that in times of economic hardship workers in these sectors will suffer the most.

I stated “almost exclusively non-essential industries” because workers in essential industries were also hit. This is not because their jobs are non-essential, but in many cases their jobs are transitional due to automation. Keep in mind that grocers experienced substantial increases in profit throughout these last few months while a number of other sectors were suffering tremendously.

Though many grocers were increasing their bottom line, a number of them were likewise laying off employees. Why? Because they had the capacity to service customers through automated checkout systems at a greater capacity than they did with human employees. This indicates future job cuts in even robust and sustainable industries.

Fortunately, many workers have taken note of this dynamic and have opted to start or continue their education so that they can secure viable employment. Many colleges and universities are experiencing increases in enrollment as more people have seen themselves in the unemployment line due to COVID-19. This trend will only increase as more individuals are forced out of their current jobs.

Summary

While the jury is still out on the overall toll that COVID-19 will have on our everyday lives one thing is for certain – we will not go back to life as usual. This pandemic has shaken and waken us in critical ways. It has given us plenty to think about in terms of how we do business. And it will continue to make us question our old patterns.

Need more help with workforce related issues? Contact us so that we can assist you.

Tips for Working Remotely During the COVID-19 Quarantine

This COVID-19 situation has caught us all off guard. It has turned the workforce upside down on many levels. Unemployment claims have soared and many part time employees have reduced workloads while employees in high demand industries are being asked to work overtime. Additionally, a great number of us who are fortunate enough to maintain our employment status are now tasked with working remotely, which has created it’s own set of challenges.

I have had the pleasure of being a remotely-based freelance worker for a number of years now due to the nature of my work. So this situation hasn’t been a great challenge for me in this regard. However, my work load has increased significantly since I offer a number of coaching services, which are all in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Though I am truly grateful for this surge in work, it has kept me away from my blog for a few weeks.

However, it has likewise given me the inspiration for this article since many of my clients have been asking me for suggestions to help them cope with shifting their work space to the virtual environment. So, here are a few tips to help you transition your business or work operations to your home base or other remote location…

Maintain Your Normal Schedule and Routine

Keeping a regular work schedule was tremendously helpful for me when I started working from home. When you work from home, there is technically no going “home” from work. Because you effectively spend the majority of the day in your home when you work from home, it easy to blur the lines between home and work. It is common to find yourself working earlier or later than you would normally work in an office or other setting.

This often happens due to extra pressure or boredom. It is highly likely that you will feel extra pressure when you first start working from home, especially in crisis situations such as the one we are currently faced with. It is likewise normal and acceptable for you to spend more time preparing for and getting acclimated to your new work environment. Learning how to use virtual systems like video conferencing tools and industry specific web-based software can easily add an extra hour or two to your work day.

And, let’s not forget about boredom. After you have binged-watched all the Netflix series that you can digest, it is not uncommon to find yourself checking your work email during your “off hours”. This is also acceptable on occasion, especially since we are being bombarded with an overflow of communication about the COVID-19 situation during the early phases of this work space transition process.

However, overextending yourself too often for too long can easily lead to drain, fatigue, and burnout. So once you get settled and can easily navigate your way around new technology, processes, etc. set an amenable work schedule and stick to it. It is best to stick to your normal work schedule, if at all possible. However, it may be necessary to shift your work hours depending on employer or client demands. Even in these circumstances it is still important to keep standard working hours and shifts so that you can maintain your health and well-being.

Create a Dedicated Work Space

Having a dedicated work space is just as important as having a standardized work schedule. You need to work in a space or area of your home that provides you with the level of privacy, comfort, and peace and quiet that you need for optimal performance.

When setting up your space keep the requirements of your job and your personal preferences in mind. Do you deal with highly sensitive data? Will you need to make frequent phone or video calls? Do you have any needs that require specialized equipment? There are many factors that can impact the size and type of space that you may need to perform your work efficiently. Keep in mind that purchasing extra work-related equipment or resources may be tax deductible depending on your work situation.

Creating a dedicated office space may be as simple a setting up a desk and computer in a nook of your bedroom or dining area. Or, it could be as elaborate as converting a whole room into a home office. In fact, you may already have a dedicated computer room in your home that you use frequently for work-related and other purposes. Depending on your family situation, you may need to find a way to keep your spouse, children, or other household members out of the space when you do work assignments that require privacy, quietness, or solitude.

Get Dressed for Work

Yes, get up and get dressed as if you were going to your regular job. While working in your PJ’s may sound enticing, it can actually complicate your work situation. Sitting in front of a computer in your night or workout clothes can trick your brain into thinking that it’s time to mindlessly surf the internet. Instead, you want your brain to shift into work mode when you sit down at your computer desk. Putting on professional attire will easily kick your brain into work mode so that you can perform your job duties at optimal level.

Dressing professionally will also help you stay prepared for impromptu and scheduled virtual meetings. If you get dressed at the start of your day, you don’t have to scramble to find an outfit when your supervisor or a client wants to do a virtual face-to-face at the last minute.

Connect with Colleagues on a Regular Basis

Maintaining consistent verbal communication with your colleagues is also important during extended remote work situations. Not only do we need to maintain communication because we are hardwired to connect with other humans, we also need to keep a sense of normalcy. Scheduling time to chat with our peers is very important in maintaining our sanity through this situation. We need to find meaningful ways to consistently interact with our colleagues, customers, and/or clients as we venture into this brave, new workforce.

Don’t Overwork Yourself

Finally, my last bit of advise is to not overwork yourself. This goes along with maintaining a standardized work schedule. Try not to work on weekends unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Pace yourself and do what you can. Most employers and clients are willing to extend deadlines and work with you in a variety of different ways to ensure that you have a safe, healthy, and efficient transition to your new remote work environment. While you may need to work a few hours more on certain days, this should not be the norm. Try to cancel or delay any non-essential tasks, meetings, or events. Learn to say “no” when you need to. And most importantly, take proper care of yourself and those around you as best as possible.

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