On the 16th of March 2020, the Careers Service switched to remote delivery. I cannot believe its nearly a year since the pandemic transformed our personal and professional lives; it is hard to remember what life was like before COVID-19. In some ways, a lot has happened in a year, particularly the development of the vaccine, and in other ways, it feels like time stopped in March 2020. As we look forward to lockdown lifting, we wanted to explore how the world of work is likely to evolve post-pandemic and are hosting a panel with speakers from Babcock and Solirius Consulting. Please do sign up for the event on MyFuture.
Although there is now a way out of the pandemic, there remains a fair bit of uncertainty regarding the post-COVID world of work. Some pointers are emerging. For example, hybrid working is set to become the new norm. BP have announced their staff will work from home two days a week, affecting nearly 6000 employees in the UK. Similarly, Unilever announced their staff would not return to their desks full time. I do not think the office is dead yet, although the way office space will be used going forwards is likely to change. A hybrid environment will have some workers in the office and others working from home. A challenge for managers will be around fostering a cohesive team and ensuring day-to-day operations are not impacted.
StandOut CV analysed over 17,000 ‘remote’ jobs on Indeed.com to identify the essential skills employers were looking for. The importance of technical prowess stood out to me. Increasingly employers are looking for candidates who are confident using remote collaboration and communication tools. Whilst you do not need to be an expert at using every tool, emphasising your experience of video and web conferencing, remote project collaboration and document sharing tools on your CV will help you stand out. Some of the commonly used tools include:
- Slack / Microsoft Teams: Chat software
- Time Doctor: Time management tool
- Zoom: Video conferencing tool
- Asana: Collaboration and project management tool
- Google Drive: Collaboration tool
The ability to communicate and collaborate remains high on the list of key skills employers want. In my experience, communication is hard at the best of time let alone in a remote work environment. Jacqueline Jensen shares valuable tips around communicating effectively and navigating misunderstandings. At a personal level, going forwards, maintaining boundaries between work and home is going to be vital to maintaining wellbeing.
Brian Dyson, former Vice Chairman and COO of Coca-Cola, put it beautifully:
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
Whilst I can safely say I have loved remote working and on reflection, found a shared office environment quite draining, I am aware not everyone shares my experience. My personal tips for maintaining boundaries and your wellbeing whilst working remotely are:
- Set a routine (and stick to it): very early on in the pandemic, I set my work hours; I am a morning person, so I opted to start work early and try and stick to my hours. Taking regular breaks is also important; it is so easy to stay glued to your laptop. The Pomodoro time management technique works really well for me. Take a large task and break it into smaller chunks. Pick one chunk and work on it for 25 minutes. Take a 5-minute break (this marks the completion of one “Pomodoro” sprint). Repeat. And after four Pomodoro sprints, take a longer break.
- Engage in chatter: working from home can be lonely, and it is easy to get into your own head and spiral into negativity. Schedule a casual cuppa and a chat with a colleague or a work friend. No agenda or tasks, just a good old ‘put the world to right’ chat. I try and have one of these once a week, it keeps me connected and is genuinely a good laugh.
- The written tone of voice: I can come across as grumpy in my emails and messages as my writing style is succinct and task-focused. I am learning just how easy it is to come across as a jerk without meaning to. The less ‘face’ time I have with my immediate team, the more they are likely to forget this is just my communication style. So I am actively working at softening my writing and even include the odd emoji.
Most importantly, I am learning to be kind to myself and others.