Before the pandemic, your manager probably had more of a say in where you are day to day. Liz Ryan from Human Workplace explained, “The authority to decide where employees must be at certain dates and times is a big part of many managers’ power. Now that numerous corporations have announced their intension not to bring employees back to the officer, some managers are losing that power. Not everyone is okay with it.”
In short, it’s tough to ask people to be in the office every day now that it has been proven to be unnecessary. This is the truest for white collar jobs, whose work life revolves around a computer. For many years, companies told us that we could not work remotely. It wasn’t possible. It wasn’t productive. It would hurt our teams. Fortunately, this is not completely true. The pandemic taught us that.
The pandemic gave companies no other choice but to adapt. Offline process have found their way online. Meetings are now consistently held via Zoom. One on one conversations take place virtually. And, somehow, many big businesses are still in business.
The thing many people didn’t expect is the long term impact of staying at home. There are a number of large companies that have announced that they don’t plan to ask their employees to return. And, the trend is catching on.
When you look at job postings, location is no longer such a factor for many jobs. Some are listed as remote. Other postings are listing more than one large city to give increased flexibility. And, many are listed with both a city – and information that the company is open to any location and remote work.
If you are one of the many people who likes working from home, this may be the time to think of looking for a new job. It’s not clear yet if companies will remain as flexible once the pandemic passes. But for those who lock in a permanently remote situation now, they will likely be able to keep the option long term.
And the best part? Companies are now interviewing remotely too. There’s no longer a need to fly all over the country to shake hands. You won’t even have to sneak out of your job to interview. You’ll be able to interview from the comfort (and the privacy) of your own home.
In the past, I would have suggested searching for remote jobs. But, if you can work from anywhere, simply search without a city name. Read the job description to see if the company mentions remote options. But, even if the posting doesn’t, you should consider applying. Job seekers are applying for jobs out of their market and are being hired with no expectation of relocation (even after the pandemic is over).
The nature of work is changing. If you enjoy working remote, make a resolution to make it permanent.
This week is a big one. One president will leave office, while another will join. The transition of power in the United States has been quite a complicated matter. Chances are that recent events in our Capital have dominated your news feed. And, if you’re like many people, work can provide a much needed break and distraction from our current political stress.
At work, colleagues come from many different backgrounds. This diverse workforce is part of what helps make companies successful. With that said, you know your coworkers through the lens of the workplace. At home, coworkers may have very different views on topics such as money, religion, and yes, politics.
As you work this week, I would encourage you to keep in mind that those coworkers you respect for their work may have different views than yours. Discussing politics, the transition of power, or the recent events at the U.S. Capital with colleagues is risky. This may sound counterintuitive, as you may have views that feel very straightforward to you.
However, in order for these conversations to have a positive impact, a number of things must be in place. The person must share your views. You must communicate in a way that is clear and easy to understand. The person must be open to hearing your message. They must receive the message in the way you intended it.
You likely agree that there are a number of dependencies that are required for things to go well. And, if they go badly, there is potential for them to go very badly. Your colleagues may have hurt feelings. These issues are big. Their significance has a magnified impact this week. If the conversation goes badly, it has the potential to negatively change your relationship permanently.
Avoiding the topic of politics with coworkers is a better bet in January. Think of it like attending a dinner party. You often don’t know others at the dinner party well. You have a common connection: dinner. This is much like your common connection of work. Beyond dinner, the other guests may have very different views on money, religion, and politics.
The one exception to this suggestion is in the event that you work for an organization that is centered on common beliefs. For example, some organizations share their religious or political views up front. Employees know in advance that their coworkers will likely share the same views outside of the workplace.
The upcoming weeks are set to be difficult. We may be inundated in news related to the presidential inauguration and the transition of power. If it helps to discuss these topics with others, identify a friend or family member who is outside of work that you can call. The political stress we are facing is temporary, but your job is permanent. Be careful with your words this month, and you will increase the likelihood of political peace at work.
As the pandemic continues to rage on in the United States, many of us have felt locked indoors. We’ve felt isolated. It’s been lonely. It’s scary. This is especially true for anyone who is living away from their loved ones. It can be hard to get help with things when you need it during the pandemic. It’s difficult to travel home for a number of reasons. The entire experience can be isolating, especially in a big city.
With no end date to COVID in sight, many workers are trying something out of the ordinary. They’re working from a new location. They’re going where their loved ones are. Countless people are moving to their hometowns, near their parents, or to other cities where they have connections. Even if the move is temporary, it provides the needed relief, and a reconnection to friends and family.
When I first witnessed this phenomenon, I was truly surprised. I wondered how in the world people were able to uproot themselves to work from another location. How were they able to make it happen logistically? Where did they stay? What did their company think about this extra remote work situation? What did the boss say about this request?
But, time and time again, it’s working. Many companies have become very good at remote work. Employees are working from vacation homes. They’re working from other countries. They’re working from the guest room at a family member’s home. And, they’re getting the same amount of work done that they were before.
If you’ve been wondering whether or not working from another city is right for you, I’d encourage you to explore your options. I’ve been surprised at just how understanding many employers are being towards their employees. Even some government workers have the option to apply to work from another location.
If you’re finding yourself alone and in need of a change of scenery, now is the time. Before you do anything, have a conversation with your boss. Get the verbal okay to work from another location. Then, put your intension in writing in an email to confirm. From there, you can plot out your move.
If moving all of your things is not a viable option, look for a storage unit near where you currently live. For a small amount of money, you can store your current belongings until you return. Then, look for furnished apartments in your destination city. Typical apartment rental websites and vacation websites like Airbnb are a great place to start. If you don’t see good furnished options, there are companies that rent furniture month to month.
The pandemic has been awful. But, for remote workers, this time may be an opportunity. If you’ve thought of working from another location, your time to do it may be limited. Talk to your boss. Do your research. Make your move, and make some lemonade with these pandemic lemons.
If last year taught us anything, it’s that things can change in an instant. Even small things we took for granted can become complex and unknown. Life is short. We’ve learned that the time is now to get our priorities in order. It’s important to decide on what matters to you and to focus in on it.
For many people, their personal life has a greater weight. Suddenly, a spouse, children, and loved ones are more important than ever before. And, it makes sense. The realization that our lives may be cut short has never been more present.
Even though there is still a pandemic raging, life continues to move forward. This is not the time to give up your career dreams. It’s time to pursue them differently. 2020 prepared us for living and working under the strain of a pandemic. 2021 is our opportunity to put what we’ve learned into practice.
It’s likely your priorities shifted over the last year. If so, here’s an exercise you may want to try. Write down the goals you had one year ago this time. Then, adjust them for our new normal. You may want to be in a smaller city. You may want to live closer to your family. You may want to permanently work from home. You may want to focus less on climbing the ladder and more on happiness. Whatever your goals are, putting them on paper can help to clarify what you are setting out to do.
If you’re like many people, accomplishing much of anything right now can feel impossible. There are things you can do to help make this process easier. After you write down your goals, type them up on your computer. This will allow you to prioritize them and to create steps under each goal. Move the most important goals to the top of your list. Then, outline what you will need to do to achieve each goal. Estimate the time each step will take you. Begin to put a timeframe around each step and goal. Decide on what you’ll accomplish this week, next week, and next month.
I know this sounds simple. But, as you continue to live through the pandemic, you can use your goals as a guide. Having goals written down can help you to stay on track when things are feeling tough. You have a game plan already that you can focus in on.
Don’t plan to check things off your goal list at the same rate as in the past though. The pandemic creates new challenges every day. It will likely take you longer to complete tasks, and that’s okay. The important part is that you stay focused on your goals and on moving forward. That way, we can make our way through 2021 more smoothly than we did last year. Although we may continue to live with a pandemic, this year we’re more prepared.
The New Year is finally here. We’ve been waiting for 2021 since Friday, March 13, 2020. That was the day that it became apparent that a pandemic was going to be a big part of 2020. Since then, we’ve felt that if we can just hang on until January, things will go back to normal.
Although I hope this is the case, we have to prepare ourselves to move forward either way. It will take time to vaccinate everyone. In the meantime, many companies have already announced that remote work will continue through the fall. This is a huge bummer for some people, and a relief for others.
Whatever your perception is of this possible outcome, it’s best to prepare for anything. And, whatever happens, your life and career must continue to move forward.
By now, working from home has started to be routine for most people. If possible, it may be time to look for ways to put in a little extra effort. I, for one, may look to upgrade from the hoodie and sweats that have become my uniform.
And, it’s also the time to begin to think about your normal career goals. Did you know that many of the educational conferences you once attended in person are now online – and they are less expensive? This opens up options in terms of continuing education. And, there’s a good chance your company budget for training won’t be tapped out.
If you’ve thought of looking for a new job, this is a great time to begin. Think of this way. Many companies are still hiring. But, they are now conducting interviews online. This means that you won’t have to fly around the company to interview. And, you won’t have to sneak out of work.
Plus, if you land an offer, your new company is more likely to offer you a permanently remote position than they were in the past. This year, I heard from job seekers who looked outside of their metro area. They applied to jobs that were in other cities and were not listed as remote. But, companies considered them anyway! And, they didn’t expect the new employees to move. That opens up a lot of options. If your city is slim on job choices, the option to apply in other cities could be an upside.
You may want to also brace yourself for a new possible reality. Even if everything goes back to normal, and even you decide to stay at your current company, you may remain remote. You heard that right. A surprising number of companies have gotten used to remote work. They’ve found that it’s better for their employees and cheaper for the company. Even after the pandemic is over, they will continue to allow employees to work from anywhere.
2021 brings with it many options, and many dreams for a brighter future. Hang in there. We’re in this together!
Productivity at work is the highest when we are rested and when we are taking care of ourselves. Unfortunately, in corporate America, we rarely recognize that. There are days when we are trying to one up each other on how little we’re taking care of ourselves. We like to talk about how we worked on the weekend or how we checked email late at night or early in the morning.
I hope that with the pandemic, we’re collectively having an opportunity to focus more on self-care. But honestly, self-care in 2020 is much more about survival than it is about thriving. It’s hard to take care of yourself when everything is in such a state of disarray.
Unfortunately, even before COVID, burnout had become a way of life. You can tell who is working the hardest based on who appears to be the most exhausted. These are sometimes the same people who are aging faster than others.
A Gallup survey found that the top five reasons for burnout are: unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of support from the manager, and unreasonable time pressure.
When we think of burnout, we think the burned out employee must be at fault. But, the Gallup survey would suggest we should shift the focus to the employer. If you are a manager, what can you do? Harvard Business Review suggests that satisfaction and dissatisfaction aren’t on one continuum. Managers must consider both satisfaction and dissatisfaction at the same time. When you explain it this way, it makes sense. This would also suggest that burnout is linked to overall company culture. If you are a manager, it’s up to you to make a difference.
If you’re an individual contributor, I believe you also have a role to play. Be transparent with your manager about timelines. Give feedback when things are unreasonable. Push back more. Ask for help. It’s not uncommon for a manager to push until you speak up.
When possible, avoid sending emails on the weekends or at night. You may not think about it at the time, but this creates a negative cycle of internal pressure. When you email a colleague on Saturday, they feel the need to write you back quickly. And, then you will feel the need to write back.
It’s not to say that extra work is needed at times. But, if you push yourself to your limit all the time, you won’t be at your best. You won’t be as productive as you would otherwise be. Burnout is everyone’s problem.
This is easier said than done. But, we have to start somewhere, together. Reducing burnout increases productivity. It increases happiness. And, it will increase employee retention.
We’re all ready for this year to be over. Most days have been painful, as we watch the news and wait for things to change. It’s felt helpless and at times, hopeless. But, it’s beginning to look like we’re in the final stretch of this pandemic marathon.
With that in mind, try not to ignore the holidays. I know it’s tempting. You’re excited for January to be here. But, at your work, there is at least one person who is living alone. They aren’t near family. They aren’t married. They don’t have children. And for them, the holidays are going to be especially tough this year.
Work isn’t about taking care of colleagues emotionally. But, this year, we have to stick together. Making it through a pandemic is a team project.
Check on each other. Zoom meetings make normal small talk harder. Find time to chat about more than just revenue and goals. Ask how people are holding up – and mean it. Listen. Make a mental note if someone seems to be struggling. Check back with them.
Profitability is great, but the entire company will suffer if employee morale is low. And, we are all in this together – even on holidays.
Take the time to acknowledge this holiday season. It’s hard that we can’t all be together. I love those big fancy holiday parties. Getting dressed up and sharing cocktails with colleagues can be the best part of December. I look forward to them every year.
But, even though you can’t have a big group gathering in person, there are other things you can do. Try activities like a Zoom holiday party. Or, send cards to each other. Perhaps you can have a virtual lunch with your team. Ask for ideas, and you may discover something creative that you hadn’t thought of.
Whatever you do, do something. I know that it won’t compare. It won’t be the best party. And honestly, it might even be the worst holiday party you’ve ever thrown. But, whatever you do, it will be better than nothing.
Those people on your team who are alone will be struggling this month. It’s not that they “may” be struggling. They are struggling. If you’re married or have children, some alone time probably sounds like just the luxury you need. But, single colleagues have been alone since March. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is used as punishment in prison. It’s hard; really hard.
Your company holiday party or greeting card may be the only recognition of the holiday season your single colleagues may have. This is especially true if they don’t live near family, or if their family is older.
Take the time to celebrate just a little, and to find your holiday cheer. Give thanks. Although this year has been the most difficult, it’s also created strong bonds. We’re all in this together, and very soon, it will be in person.
Have you had enough of 2020? Let’s look to what you can expect in your 2021 workplace. The 2020 pandemic has been a historic year. We’ve experienced unexpected change. And, interestingly, some of that change may be here to stay.
Recently, Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, shared his five predictions on what the future holds at work. First, office life will return, but will never be the same. Second, employees expect progress, not pledges, on corporate diversity, equality, and inclusion. Salary expectations will get a permanent work from home overhaul. Company cultures must adapt to post-COVID-19 realities. And, although the COVID-19 recession is likely over, those jobs may never return.
I’m sure you would agree; there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with a few of the highlights.
More than 40% of US workers have been working from home full-time since June 2020. This dramatic shift has caused significant changes in the way we work. Chamberlain believes that although companies have been forced to rethink work from home policies, employees will ultimately return to work once it’s safe. Although remote work allows companies to hire from anywhere, it has downsides. Chamberlain cites poor employee communication, lack of motivation and performance, lower creativity, and lack of spontaneity as the drawbacks to remote work. Casual bonds created through in person interactions are critical for building a culture of innovation and creativity. According to an internal survey of Glassdoor’s own workforce, most workers prefer a hybrid work arrangement, splitting time between home and office.
The Black Lives Matter movement also cast a needed light on racial inequality that will impact our workplace going forward. Companies are being pushed to make real progress on diversity and inclusion efforts. The public also expects more transparency on these efforts going forward. Conversations around economic inequality and police violence sparked a national conversation. In the workplace, this conversation has the potential to be a win-win. In other words, diversity attracts talent. Glassdoor found in a recent survey that more than three in four employees and job seekers say they would no longer apply at a company without workplace diversity.
Chamberlain also predicts a shift in salary expectations. He believes tech workers moving from expensive metros such as San Francisco or New York should expect pay reductions from five to thirty percent, depending on where they move. This is one point where my perspective veers away from Chamberlain. If a worker has a unique skillset, a company will be forced to pay the fair market rate for that skillset, regardless of where they live. On the flip side, if location is no issue, job seekers will likely face more competition as they apply for jobs. I believe the increase in competition will change salaries more than a cost of living adjustment.
Ultimately, the unexpected nature of 2020 has forever changed our workplace, for good and for bad. Here’s to a better 2021!
I recently received a question from a reader. The reader asked at what point in your career you will have reached your ideal potential. In other words, when should you stop moving up and seeking more money and a better title? When do you run the risk of messing things up? When should you be happy with your current situation?
I wish this scenario were an option. Perhaps many years ago, it was. Employees stayed at the same company for years. They retired there and got a gold watch. Unfortunately, those days are over.
Assuming you’ll stay in one position for the remainder of your career is risky. Companies are no longer guaranteed to be in business. And, even if they stay in business, they aren’t required to keep you on the payroll.
Whether or not you’re self-employed, our current environment makes you the CEO of your own career. You are the only one in the driver’s seat. This has never been more clear than during the pandemic. Companies are laying off employees and going out of business every single day.
Although you don’t have to go up the ladder, it’s not recommended to get off the ladder completely. You must stay in the game or risk becoming obsolete. At a bare minimum, you should be maintaining (and growing) your skillset. You can do this by volunteering for new projects at work. You can take a continuing education course online. You can find a mentor. There are many ways to grow yourself and your resume.
One thing you may consider is a lateral move. Perhaps you move to another department within your company. Or, you might move to a similar role in another company. Over time, salaries increase significantly. But, you’d be surprised to learn where they grow. Very often, companies save the big salary bumps for external hires. If you are happy to continue at your current company, they will be happy to increase your pay three percent each year. But, if you are open to joining another company, your pay may increase by ten, twenty, or thirty percent in one move.
Sadly, companies just don’t incentivize their employees to stick around anymore. And very often, they aren’t investing resources into the skillsets of their existing employees. If you’ve finding this to be the case, pay attention. Ignoring these signs will leave you at risk if anything goes wrong and you need to find another job.
This all sounds quite negative, I know. But, this is the reality we’re living in today. Our workplaces aren’t as stable as they once were. You have to create your own stability. Think of your career like an investment. You want to diversify. You want to minimize your risk, and maximize your return. You wouldn’t let your money sit in an account for years without ever looking at it. Why would you do that with your career?
This week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally, it’s an opportunity to gather together with loved ones, eat way too much good food, and watch a little football. It’s typically an opportunity to express gratitude for our good fortune. This year, it’s a little different. The pandemic and 2020 have created a challenging environment that leaves some wondering what we are thankful for, and others realizing just how lucky we are.
Whichever side you fall on this years, I encourage you to allow Thanksgiving to inspire your job search. Just because we are going through a difficult time does not mean there are not opportunities to be had. Find yours, and help those around you who are struggling to find theirs.
Be Grateful: Focus on the positive things about your current job. Perhaps you like your boss, your team, or that you’re able to work remotely. Even in negative situation, there are usually a few things to be thankful for. Move your attention to those items.
Reconnect: Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday season. Take the opportunity to reconnect with friends, coworkers, and loved ones you haven’t seen in a while – by phone, email, or video. Not only is it good for your soul, it’s good for your network. When you’re looking for a job, it’s critical that you keep your network up to date.
Reflect: Holidays are a great time to think back about the past year, and to make plans for the future. What went well? What would you do differently? Write these things down, along with goals for next year. When would you like to find a new job? What are the attributes you’d prefer in your next job?
Help Others: Networking is a big part of finding a job. When we’re in the middle of our own search, we forget about those around us. Take the time to help those in your life who are also looking. In return, they will help you.
Relax: Looking for a job can be a long, and at times, stressful, process. Don’t forget to take a little time for yourself. It will help you to keep moving forward in your search when you return to work.
Give Thanks: Take the time to thank those in your life who help you every day. Whether it’s a friend, coworker, or supervisor, take the time to wish them a happy Thanksgiving — and thank them for the impact they make on your life. You might even consider giving thanks in the form of a written recommendation on LinkedIn.
Stay Positive: The holiday season can be a tough one if you’re looking for a job. It is a time of increased financial responsibilities and decreased opportunities. But, staying positive will help to draw good people to you. It will help to lay the foundation for your job search, so they will think of you when they’re hiring. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!