Employment 2021 – What next?

2020 was a year like no other, when we celebrated the New Year none of us had any idea what was about to happen a few short months later.

First came weeks of lockdown, then being encouraged to return to work if we could not work at home, then a reverse of this message and now a second lockdown amid confusion for many about whether we will continue to be employed.

What are the implications that we now have to consider?

There are almost as many questions as answers. Fundamentally every single person will have a different scenario that applies to them.

However, in an attempt to create a path through this, here are some suggestions about ways to move forward.

For many the first lockdown was a moment to press a pause button; an unexpected brake on our normal lives and time perhaps reflect on what we really wanted to do in our lives.

Now we are faced with a second lockdown just as we were starting to try and understand what was being described as the ‘new normal’. The reality is that there is not necessarily  one ‘right path’ for many of us going forward. Traditional patterns of employment were changing before the pandemic, but this has accelerated that process and created some very different working landscapes. The ‘new normal’ presents challenges, but also new opportunities.

So many job opportunities almost happen by chance, new roles are emerging all the time, even during the pandemic, people have discovered new ways of working, some started in voluntary roles, others have responded to new work opportunities, or adapted their business to meet a new need.

What you did before may not be the same in the future, faced with daily and sometimes confusing news, it’s important to stay aware, but not overwhelmed. Try to find trusted sources and focus on what is real in your world, but also seek out every form of support that is available.

One way of working your way through this is to take time to explore your options.

The ‘New Normal’ Action Plan

Ask yourself the following questions and create a list:

What can I do? Right here, right now?

How can I extend this? Explore creatively the options.

What have I done in the past that I could teach, share, improve and develop?

What new skills could I develop – short term, medium, long term?

Look overall at the list and objectively categorise depending on need:

I could do this because it fulfills a short-term need.

I could retrain and do this.

I could do this, but for a short period of time.

I really don’t want to do this.

For each one there may be a trade off e.g. I could do this for 12 months but then I want to do this instead.

Here are some ways to help: 

1. Have a realistic understanding of your talents, think in the broadest context across all aspects of your life, rather than just your current, or previous job roles.

2. Recognise changes in the marketplace, both in working patterns and opportunities for self-employment and flexible working.

3. Be creative and adaptive, those who succeed post-Covid will see an opportunity and legitimately adapt their skills, or business to meet those needs.

4. Be collaborative, talk to other businesses, try and help, be responsive to opportunities that present themselves.

5. If you are feeling overwhelmed, seek help and support, these are unprecedented times, but help is available. Recognise issues that others may be having, be supportive to suppliers, customers, employees, other businesses. 

6. If you make a commitment follow through, but try and set realistic deadlines. If you are a parent trying to work at home, seek out as much support as possible, but also try and adapt your working pattern to fit in with the needs of your family. 

7. Recognise the need to earn now, but plan for the future. This may mean having to take short-term employment while building your own business.

8. Look creatively at different ways of working and your working environment. If working from home try and separate your working and living areas. Physically try and take regular breaks. Invest in labour-saving devices, or seek support. 

9. Respect your values, sustainability, giving things back, businesses are encouraged to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility, what can you do to follow the same principles? Can you help people in your local community? 

10. Finally, remember the importance of family and friends, this current situation affects everyone, seek and share support and love, treasure every special moment together; and however hard it may seem at times, the need to try and stay hopeful for the future.