There’s a work from home tsunami coming. Are you ready for it?
When the Coronavirus first drove us out of office buildings and into our homes, many of us assumed it would only be a temporary solution until the worst
of the virus had passed and we were given the all clear to resume business as usual. With events unfolding the way they are, however, it’s starting to
look like the status quo of employer-provided office space is in danger of becoming extinct.
Just last week, Twitter announced its plans to offer every single one of its employees the option to work from home permanently–forever. This grandiose
announcement came just two short months since we all began our work from home experiment, and as companies continue to weigh their options for the types
of work environments they offer employees, more are sure to follow suit. In fact, Nationwide also announced last week that it plans to reduce its office
footprint from 20 physical offices pre-crisis to just four moving forward.
This is only my opinion, and I have no way of knowing what the future holds, but I believe we’re about to see a monumental shift in the way we carry out
our work that will have far greater implications across nearly every aspect of society. And, we all need to prepare ourselves to adapt to a world in which
the majority of white collar office workers no longer go into a physical office on a regular basis.
Taking a step back to think about what this means is enough to make your head spin. What happens when a huge chunk of people just stop commuting into
an office every day? What does that do to the auto industry? Real estate? All the restaurants that cater to workers going out for breakfast and lunch
at the office? How about dry cleaning (if you no longer need to wear office attire, you no longer need to get it cleaned, right?). It’s impossible to
imagine all of the implications of a permanent work from home reality, but it’s dead simple to see that the impact will be enormous.
Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll never go into an office again–far from it. My guess is that companies will pare down their physical footprint and move
to temporary hot desks for employees to use when they come in every so often. Important meetings will still happen in person, so you’ll still have to
pretend to pay attention when one of your colleagues is walking through a dry PowerPoint. And, some types of businesses that require close collaboration
in person will stick to the physical format, and if you fall into that group, you may not see much of a long-term impact at all.
But, more than likely, you will see your office environment permanently altered on the other side of this crisis, especially as more and more companies
suffer financial pain and look to cut costs wherever they can. That means you need to begin to align yourself to this new way of working and position
yourself for continued growth in your career. Here are 3 things you should be focusing on right now:
Begin to plan and execute your ideal WFH set up
When it comes to working from home, not all workspaces are created equal. If you have a home with a proper office complete with desk, work chair, and
all the workplace trappings, you’re probably sitting pretty right now. But, if you have a 500 square foot studio apartment and you’ve been balancing your
laptop on your coffee table, you might not be doing so hot.
If your work environment is less than ideal, you need to start thinking about a permanent solution. That could be carving out a special area in your place
with everything you need, or it could even mean moving to a new home entirely. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see real estate agents selling homes
as “work from home friendly” to tempt potential buyers. And, already there’s talk of a mass exodus from expensive cities as a result of no longer having
to commute into an office…time will tell if that comes to fruition.
Keep your networking game strong
Just because nobody is going into an office right now doesn’t mean office politics have ceased to exist–they’re just different. It’s imperative that
you continue to be present and visible with your manager, colleagues, and other company leaders so they’re aware of what you’re contributing. Try to talk
to at least two people on your immediate team every day to maintain your sense of comradery.
Also, with everyone sitting at home without much to do (except if you have kids, of course), more people are likely to be open to networking and having
casual conversations. Browse LinkedIn for people with interesting roles or companies and send them a message asking if they’d be open to chatting about
what they do. This is a great way to evaluate potential career options and strengthen your network even if you aren’t actively looking for a job yet (which
is the best time to do it).
Get good at managing your time
When you’re suddenly thrust into a new work environment that you have to adapt to, it’s only natural to see your productivity dip as you get used to your
new surroundings. But, the sooner you get a handle on how you can be as productive as possible at home, the better off you’ll be.
The people best situated to succeed coming out of this crisis are those who will have learned to master their time while working from home. The ability
to work well from home will no longer be an option for most employers–it will be a requirement. I wouldn’t be surprised if this worked its way into interviews
moving forward, with questions like, “So, tell me about your ideal work from home setup. What are some of the ways you stay productive?”
You need great answers to these types of questions with solid evidence of your comfort and proficiency at working from home. And, don’t forget to hone
your virtual communication and collaboration skills as well.
There’s a popular phrase that goes, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” This is your opportunity to elevate your skills to the next level and prove
that you’re ready to kick ass in the brave new world we all have to look forward to. Your success, and even your survival, will depend on it.
That’s all for this week. Stay safe and be well!
Conscious Career Copyright © 2020 Dan Clay, All rights reserved.