The world as we knew it has changed in a way that is irreversible for many, if not all of us. The majority of businesses which remain in existence are feeling their way through this crisis blindly, looking desperately for solutions that will both shore up their existing business as well as assist them in finding opportunities and new staff amid the chaos and uncertainty that this global pandemic has brought upon us all. However, this cannot be done in complete isolation and employees are being asked to abandon years of pre-conceived ideals and beliefs about the nature of work and pivot sharply to new ways of operating and embrace the uncertainty that the ‘new normal’ change will inevitably bring.
As a seasoned business coach and strategist, specialising in the future of entrepreneurship and the workplace I am often called on to source some inspiration, or an insight into what people can expect from their future employment, both now and in the many uncertain years to come. To be able to do that, it is important to put the situation into context.
Shifting from the safe place of gradual and incremental change
While there have been many poignant articles written about how the world of work has changed in the last decade or so, we have always written these from a safe place, where change was gradual and incremental, a place where it allowed us time to adjust to it. We wrote about how technology would allow us to become more remote and yet distantly efficient, without ever actually believing that we would spend all work and most leisure time using technology from our kitchen tables or rapidly redesigned spare bedrooms.
We spoke about how we would need to find innovative ways to balance performance management and trust, without ever for a moment thinking we would need to rely completely on the trust and honesty of our workforces. Then finally, we wrote about how to create productive work-life integration, to enable people to be present with their families when childcare was almost impossible to secure, without ever having to think that we would need to balance a child on our knee while chairing a zoom conference call.
What we believed about the world of work six months ago is fast becoming redundant, a distant memory and it requires us to rethink how we are employed, what work we do, how we produce this work and how we can retain all the benefits of the ‘old ways’ of working, while capitalising on the ‘new ways’ that Covid-19 has forced us to create and adopt.
To achieve any of these new realities, we will now need to rely even more heavily on the wonders of modern technology, we will need to not only think outside the box, but actually step out of it completely and take that brave walk around the next office, even if it is actually technically just the living room, and preferably not in our pyjamas.
Remaining in control of the day and restructuring your mind palaces
There are some phenomenal technological tools available to assist us on our rapid path towards this new-found way of securing employment and of working, from Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to the likes of monday.com for monitoring staff efficiency and tracking the projects and tasks of a vast workforce remotely. Remaining in control of the day is now, more than ever, imperative for businesses to thrive, and for you to succeed.
Restructuring your well-ordered mind palaces and leaving your comfort zones are also going to be vital for continued business growth. Gone is the old structure of popping to the gym before heading to the office, then for drinks with a large group of colleagues or prospective employers. Now it is simply essential to ensure that the internet is working at full capacity, that the kids are entertained in another room, and that the dog will not demand a trip out to the garden before you embark on back-to-back virtual interviews or meetings.
There has also been a dramatic spike in the use of social media platforms throughout the pandemic. Conducting business that would usually be done face to face, across a boardroom table, is now completely acceptable via LinkedIn, and often even via Facebook or Twitter. My advice here, though, is to ensure that all social media accounts are checked thoroughly to ensure that you are offering a good first impression. Optimise yourself to ensure that you stand out from the crowd and allow yourself to be seen in a positive light, albeit virtually.
The world is a changed place and we must resign ourselves to the fact that this is for the long term. The plusses are that before you embark on the next chapter of your career or business growth, you have the opportunity to finetune your pitch, to ensure that you are showing only your very best self, because until you press the ‘invite’ or ‘accept’ icon, it’s still all to play for.
Sean Purcell is a business and leadership coach, and the Director and Founder of Sean Purcell, MillenniALL Media and ActionCoach Colchester. He educates and trains SME business owners and entrepreneurs to create businesses fit for the future. Sean is also author of MillenniALL, a guidebook for the Millennial generation.