Coming Back Stronger: Learning Lockdown Lessons
24th June 2020
I hope this article finds you well in these strange and uncertain times… something-something new normal… staying sane… unprecedented cliché… *insert hackneyed phrase here*.
Now I’ve got that out of the way (please never make me type those words again!) I want to talk to you a little bit about what comes next. At the moment, it seems that every article or opinion piece is either leading you down the garden path by pretending all is fine and nothing has changed, or they’re pushing a narrative of doom and despair. As with most things, we need to be setting our sights somewhere down the middle - but with an optimistic twist. Allow me to elaborate.
The Marketing and Advertising sectors will bounce back, with reports indicating that for some, the bounce is already on its way. By the end of 2020, we should see improvements across the board. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many are out of work and feeling very uncertain about their futures. In this article I want to offer hope to both parties and show how we can all turn today’s problems into tomorrow’s opportunities (oh no, I’m slipping back into clichés!).
Have you ever seen Falling Down with Michael Douglas? Well If one more person says ‘new normal’ to me I swear to god…
If you’re someone that has lost their role due to the Coronavirus, you might be struggling to see how this could lead to something positive. Right now, it may seem that doom and gloom are the order of the day, but the virus and ensuing lockdown have forced change onto business. Change that I think, will benefit all of us in the long run.
As the industry bounces back the jobs that will naturally follow will, if companies use this opportunity to adapt, be better for your mental and physical health. This forced digitisation of the workplace has made companies rethink the clock-in and clock-out system they’ve been relying on for years, with many pivoting towards a project-based way of working. Allowing employees more freedom to work to their own clock (as long as the project is completed) gives people much-craved autonomy and a greater sense of ownership of their work.
When we return to offices, the likelihood will be that we travel in on a staggered basis, avoiding the 9am commute that so many find stressful and out of tune with the way they live their lives. That might mean you can take your kids to school, drop your partner at work or actually have somewhere to sit on the train. Having more freedom doesn’t mean you get less done, it just means that you’re happier and more relaxed when it’s time to work and that is good for employer and employee alike. If you can survive this downtime, the likelihood is that you’ll return to work in a position that is much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Employers, this next section is for you!
Don’t be like Principal Skinner
Do not miss out on the opportunity to implement these changes. Now is your chance to bring your office, your business, your staff into the new era. All the reasons outlined above work in your favour too. Happy, relaxed staff with a slice of autonomy and ownership over their tasks are going to deliver better work and leave you with a much lower turnover rate. Meaning that at the very least, you have to pay people like me less often (why am I helping you with this?).
Sometimes it takes a major shift in the landscape for us to realise that the ‘way things are’ isn’t the way they have to be.
As a business owner, or hiring manager, you now have a huge pool of talent to choose from when it’s time to make those key hires. That might sound like having the pick of the bunch, but if you really want to pick up the very best people out there your offer is going to have to change too.
I speak to candidates every single day and I can tell you that their priorities have shifted. Whereas the word I used to hear more than any other was ‘progression’, it’s now ‘stability’. Candidates want to hear the truth about how Covid-19 affected your business and how things have changed. They want to know what you have in place to support employees and what protections they have against being in the same position they’ve found themselves in over the last few months.
Things can only get better eh Gary! Think how much PPE your tax bill would have paid for, though.
We can emerge from this better than we were going into it, employees and employers alike. For the employees, it means getting by as best they can while things pick up and return to some semblance of normality. For employers, it means learning the lessons of lockdown, building upon the advantages that new ways of working present and offering transparency and stability to new hires.
Welcome to the new normal (ok that was the last one, I promise!).