It’s interesting how, at the beginning of the year, things were business as usual. And then within a twinkle of an eye, everything was put to a halt. I have visited the websites of WHO, World Bank, IMF, and many others and everything there is about COVID-19. Guys, our lives have changed!
The presence of this COVID-19 has brought several things to light and when all of this is over, nothing is likely to remain the same, including the workplace. The practices embraced during the COVID-19 period will chart a new path for the future and we should not be caught unaware. We have seen the seemingly ‘impossible’ things happen: that even in Nigeria, you can work from home; you don’t have to be a millennial to be tech-savvy; balance is essential – and maybe nothing is more important than the other as we have been made to believe. In the end, what we define as important reflects our priority.
This pandemic has redefined a lot of the ‘cannots’ we have heard at the workplace. So here are the possible trends we can expect and how we can still stay relevant:
Flexibility at work
Before now, a lot of companies were quick to tell employees, particularly women, how they could not work from home for 1001 reasons. When this global pandemic started, one of the frequently asked questions was: ‘what will happen to our work?’ Well, people are still working, even from home. Had we been working from home well enough before now, we just might have been more productive. This is one of the lessons of the moment, and a lot of employers are likely to incorporate this flexibility in the workplace going forward. This could also be used as a negotiation tip in the future, should you require more flexibility in your work schedule. It’s a chance your employer would be willing to take if you show high productivity now.
Balance is important
Often, we are told that balance is a myth, well that might not be precisely mythical after all. One of the hacks to be productive while working at home is to keep your schedule balanced. Have time for everything that matters to you and makes you very productive. From snacking time to entertainment time to bonding time and even ‘tik-tok’ time. This time has shown that balance is achievable, and we are likely to see the workforce strive more for balance.
The top gainers in this season are undeniably the tech companies. Look around, in the last couple of months/weeks, everything has been driven by technology. From company executives meeting virtually to employees submitting reports to taking courses online. Being technologically savvy remains a must in today’s workforce and with COVID-19, it just got more valuable. So, fam, if you are one of the ‘I am not tech-savvy’ folks, now is an excellent time to brush up your tech skills and get better. It is not enough to know how to use a mobile phone, what can you do on Microsoft Excel? The tech space is seeking to employ more hands and it is only when you are prepared that you can take advantage of this. Build on your existing skills and identify how technology can help you maximise those skills. Top areas you can consider are Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Programming, Writing, Content Developers, and so on.
A lot of employers are furious that their operating expenses spiked in the last couple of months without having commensurate result. They are angry that their turnover did not tally with the plans they had at the beginning of the year. While some employers would consider laying off some staff, now is a good time to begin looking at how you can add value to your firm. For example, how can you save costs for your employer? What trends can you maximise? This is an excellent time to bring in your entrepreneurial spirit – create solutions because the stakes are higher. If you are blessed to still have a job when all of this is over, you should prove to your employer that they thought right.
Your network remains crucial
Truth be told, nothing will stay exactly how they were before we witnessed this global disruption. One thing you can count on, however, would be the people you know and the circle you have access to – you are sure going to need them when all of this is over. You will need your network to access new opportunities, particularly if the pandemic as resulted in you losing your job or required you to change jobs. So, here’s what you should do: pay it forward by reaching out to the people in your network to know how they are doing, share with them relevant information that you have access to. Now is the time to be generous and serve in the best way possible because when all of this is over, your network will be your valued possession.
So, what do you think the workforce/workplace would look like when all this is over?