Embrace Remote Working and Thrive in an Uncertain Future
As we emerge from what is hopefully the nadir of 2020’s coronavirus pandemic, the biggest concern for millions of individuals and businesses alike is survival. Even as experts seek a vaccine and leaders debate the best public safety strategy moving forward, we all need a secure source of income to go with good health. Across jobs and industries, remote work has provided a solution for many. But is it here to stay, and how far should you go to adapt?
Continue To Embrace Remote Work
In previous years, the trend towards remote work had been increasing, but many businesses resisted its implementation. Outside of high-tech companies and industries, the requisite platforms and skills weren’t widely available. The logistics involved in training personnel and overhauling existing systems made many employers slow to adapt.
Yet necessity, born of crisis, has driven change. Advances in technology such as telemedicine software have enabled previously less mobile workers like healthcare practitioners to reach out and interface with patients online. Lockdown measures have forced widespread implementation of remote working arrangements. Given this chance, remote workers have demonstrated that they can be productive and carry out many functions without having to report to the office.
Some people would continue to caution against adopting remote working measures in the long term. But ultimately, businesses listen to economic advantages. Having employees work outside the office saves floor space and reduces overhead costs. Remote workers avoid having to deal with traffic congestion, enjoy work-life balance, and tend to dedicate more productive hours to their jobs.
With such proven advantages, remote work figures to be a mainstay for many workplaces. Adapt your mindset; don’t treat it as a one-off emergency measure. Many people had to quickly learn how to use several essential tools, such as Slack, Zoom, and Trello. Those tools will evolve and might be replaced by emerging new technologies.
Stay on top of these changes, and you can be an asset to your team by identifying opportunities to keep improving in terms of collaboration and communication.
Focus On Upskilling
Despite these advances in technology and a growing shift in attitudes among employers, many people have had trouble seizing the opportunities provided by remote working. As of the end of May 2020, the national unemployment rate was 14.7%; over 40 million Americans had filed for unemployment in ten weeks of the coronavirus-induced crisis. These historic numbers suggest that for some people, working from home is not yet an option.
While our leaders in business and government strive to address this situation, you can also learn from some critical insights presented by the crisis and take steps to be better positioned in the future. The chance to work remotely can vary by industry. Retail and hospitality workers, for instance, are more likely to be required to show up for their jobs. Education is a strong factor. High wage-earners with a college degree tend to occupy a higher percentage of management or financial positions, with more tasks that can be fulfilled online.
The actionable lesson here is that not that you should change careers or pursue further education. Such a plan might work for a few, but it’s hardly feasible for most people. Instead, what everyone can do is to adopt a continuous learning philosophy, and focus on upskilling to tackle relevant tasks. This will make you a more valuable asset to your current employer and make you a top candidate to work remotely should the need arise.
Set aside even a couple of hours each day to learn a specific skill that can be carried out remotely. Back-office tasks such as data entry, schedule management, or transcription are an easy point of entry into this sort of work. Businesses love to outsource these tasks due to their repetitive nature, so you’re more likely to find opportunities here. If you’re up to the challenge and have some transferable skills, you can also practice working in design or writing, and potentially end up with a higher payoff.
Surviving a significant shake-up requires resiliency, but growing stronger as a result is another matter. The author and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term ‘antifragile’ to indicate something with the property to gain from randomness. This ability to only become stronger is what distinguishes the antifragile from the resilient.
Living through these times, everyone could benefit from applying the lessons of antifragility. Expanding your skillset, as noted earlier, is one way to gain from change. Exercising financial discipline and diversifying your assets and revenue streams will also give you more options whose value could increase in an uncertain future.
Don’t forget to look in the opposite direction since people are likely to embrace remote working en masse. You might just find an excellent business opportunity in fulfilling needs that still rely on in-person services.
No matter how things unfold, remote working seems set to play a major role in the economy moving forward. With these adjustments, you can embrace working remotely and continue to thrive in an uncertain future.