This is a big month. Graduates are emerging from college after spending over two years in a pandemic. Can you imagine what it would have been like to spend your junior and senior years of college being isolated and learning via Zoom? I can’t. Hats off to the graduates who have pulled through this tough time.
It’s now time to find and embark on a new job! For most people, this is both an exciting and scary time. You may feel completely confused, as if you’re on an island with no roadmap.
The first step is, get started on your job search now. I’m sure you’ve seen the news about the strong job market, and the Great Resignation. Do not assume that it will be simple to find a job. Job searching is hard. It can take a very long time.
Start looking now, and enlist a few job searching friends as support. You need people who are going through the same experience to talk to. You’ll have interviews fall apart at the end of the process. Jobs will be put on hold. Companies will ghost you. It’s a lot like dating. You’re going to have to kiss a lot of frogs.
When you find something, do your homework on what the current market is paying. But, keep your expectations realistic. As a recent graduate, you will likely be paid on the low end of hiring scales. I know this is frustrating, especially given the high cost of apartments. But, your hard work will pay off. Look for the job that will provide you the best experience and the money will come (later).
Remember that you are only the third group of college graduates to enter the workforce since the start of the pandemic. If you’re working remotely, there are many advantages. But, companies are still learning how to work with their remote employees. And, they are certainly not used to working with young college graduates remotely. If career success is important to you, you’re going to have to work to be more proactive than your older peers.
Look for mentors, look for friends, and work to build a great relationship with your boss. In the remote world, it’s easy to become disconnected. You need to work to create opportunities to learn and grow. You need to create a community for yourself.
Ask your boss to meet with you at least once per week for one-on-one meetings. Setup coffee meetings with your peers. And, look for others within the organization to build bonds with. Talk about work, and then look for opportunities to talk beyond work. Friendships at work is where the real growth happens.
Last but not least, hold yourself accountable. Your career is up to you. Set regular hours, and put in the time – even when no one is looking. The foundation you lay now will help you for years to come. Congratulations, and good luck!
The world of work seems a little flatter now than it did just a few years ago. Zoom meetings have created a phenomenon. And, I’m not talking about the fact that we’re using a new technology. It’s flattened our relationships.
It reminds me of the military. Whether you’re in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, when in uniform, there are clear signals about who is who. You can tell which branch of the military someone is in. And, you can see what rank they hold. There is a system that is used to navigate the social work structure within the military. But, without a uniform, it is much harder to guess these details.
In a similar way, working from home has taken away many of the social cues that are normally present in the workplace. It is now difficult to see which designer shoes or clothes someone is wearing. And, in fact, the entire team may have switched to comfortable clothes for the day to day.
Working from home and Zoom also take away some of the hierarchy present at in person meetings. Executives are no longer trying to snag the most influential seat at the conference room table. Video meetings also create a structure where people are more easily able to speak up. And, forget status symbols such as cufflinks.
For remote workers, there are also no longer bigger offices for people with bigger job titles. In other words, everyone is a little more equal. We are all individual people who are working at our individual jobs.
There are many positives that come along with a flatter working world. But, with every positive, there are also challenges. For example, a flatter organization also means that people will interact with one another at all levels. The normal hierarchy is less clear.
You’ll likely engage with colleagues who are both at higher and lower levels than ever before. It may be unclear what age they are, or how senior their roles are. But one thing is for sure. Each and every person should be treated with respect. This is such a key to working well as a virtual team.
Have you ever noticed that people sometimes change their behavior online? For example, some people are more comfortable being rude to others on Facebook and Twitter. The same can be said for remote work. In addition to a flatter organization, relationships are shallower. When is the last time you had a deep conversation with a colleague? Do you know how many children your coworkers have? When is the last time you had lunch with anyone from your work?
The less that we know one another, and the more we’re interacting across the company, the more likely tension is to build. If you find yourself in this situation, try to remember this. We’re all part of one team. We should work together, rather than against one another – for common goals.
Burnout at work is real, and it’s happening more now than ever. This may be due to the high stress and change we have faced over the last two years. I heard from a reader this week who is experiencing burnout in the workplace, as you may be too. The most important part of the burnout experience is how you manage it.
For many people, the urge is to quit their current job. The thought of one more painful day at the office is the last thing you want to think about. Quitting sounds gratifying. You can take time off to relax, before walking in to a better, higher paying job. The job market is hot now, right? This sounds easy.
But, if you’re like most people, your job helps to pay your bills. You may be okay without income for a period of time, but eventually, you’ll need that steady paycheck again. When someone quits working, they picture that it will be very relaxing. However, for most people, it’s just the opposite. Until you have a new job, you’re often on edge, wondering when the job search will be over. This experience is compounded by loved ones who will ask how the search is going.
The most relaxing time off is between jobs. When you find a new job, set your start date far enough out that you may have time in between. This will be the most relaxing time you’ll have. You’ll be free from work, and you’ll be free from worry.
Most people don’t quit jobs before they’ve found another job. When you go to a job interview, quitting is a difficult thing to explain to your future hiring manager. They may very well assume that you were fired from your last job, or best case scenario, they may assume that you’re a poor decision maker.
In addition, when you have no job and you’re interviewing, you feel more pressure to accept a job offer. For example, if it has been three months since you left your last job, you may feel panicked. You’re running out of money, and you wonder what another three months with no job might look like. This can push you to take the next job offer, even if it pays less or seems to be a bad work situation. In other words, if you feel pressured to take something, you may end up in a worse situation than you are in today.
Take control of how you want to handle your burnout. If it’s time to find a new job, great! If you feel that you are too busy or too stressed to look for another job, consider your options. If you have vacation saved up, this can be a great time to use it. Take time off to apply for jobs and recharge. Focus on your search, so you can create a positive path out as quickly as possible.
As you probably know by now, I’m a supporter of working from home. I believe that when it’s possible, it can provide an increased quality of life for the employee – and a cost savings for the employer. But, it’s starting to become more common for employers to require workers to come back anyway. And, the reasoning is surprising.
I recently learned that some employers are claiming that those who prefer work from home are hiding something. In particular, they are hiding mental health and addiction issues. In other words, the only reason you might want to work from home is if you have a problem you don’t want your boss to know about.
This news is disheartening at best. Through the pandemic, it has been proven that many office workers can work effectively at home. On top of being more efficient at work, many employees have seen their stress levels drop and their personal time increase.
There are many logical reasons leaders may want their people to be back in the physical office. For example, not every job can be performed in a work from home setting. And, if you’re leading an organization where only a portion of the jobs can be remote, you may want everyone to come back together. It may increase the feeling of community and equity across various parts of the organization.
There are also some workers who genuinely prefer working from the office. They appreciate the structure that it creates. They like the separation of home and work that going to the office provides. They enjoy the casual moments of community with coworkers.
There are many legitimate reasons an employer may prefer for their employees to come back in person to a centralized office location. But, to shift blame to employees is wrong. The vast majority of those who enjoy working from home enjoy it for reasons that are no secret. It’s not because there is something wrong with them. It’s not because they’re using substances during the workday, or are shielding the employer from their mental health struggles.
Don’t get me wrong. Many employees did in fact experience mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Truly, what did anyone expect from a pandemic? It’s a pandemic. It’s possible that working from home may have helped bridge the gap for some people during a tough patch. But, the idea that all work from home supporters are hiding something is just not true.
If you need your employees to go back to a physical office, be honest. Explain the real reasons that the company believes it makes sense. Then, listen to your employees. Hear their concerns. Work together to come up with a solution that works for both sides of the equation.
Don’t turn on your employees. Don’t pressure them to come back out of fear or shame. As a leader, your role is to inspire others to want to follow your vision.
It’s been two years since we were sent home from work for two weeks. We were collectively wrong about the two weeks, but many workers have been relieved. We learned so much about work over the last two years.
We found that working remotely is not only possible, it’s preferred. Workers are more productive, and overall, they’re happier. We can create customized work environments that work best for us. Commuting is no longer required. And, it’s cheaper for employers. One of the only good things to come from the pandemic has been the flexibility and work life balance introduced with work from home.
So, why are employers now trying to drag their employees back to the office?
Many companies say they need people to be in person in order to form better relationships. Some say it will make us more productive. Others say we need to be in “the building” in order to get real work done. But, what is really going on here? If a company is still in business after two years of work from home, it has been more than proven that work from home is possible.
Returning to the office appears to be driven from two places. Within the organization, older managers struggle with the remote transition more than anyone else. Outside of the organization, cities are struggling to keep their downtowns thriving without business commuters.
This is the problem with both. Neither takes into account the needs and wants of the individual worker. And, both deny the fact that it has now been proven that working from home is possible. Both companies and cities need to become more creative in their problem solving. Rather than chase the past, what exists in the future?
If a company feels that employees are disconnected, that company should look for new ways to connect folks. Perhaps they could schedule more teambuilding activities via video. Or, maybe they could bring everyone together once a month for an in person event.
For struggling downtown areas, what other options exist to revive the economy? Housing is certainly expensive. Perhaps empty office buildings could be repurposed as less expensive apartments. Maybe there are other ways to revitalize downtowns.
We can no longer live in the past. Fighting with employees who prefer to work from home only serves one purpose. It will be the reason those employees apply for jobs at other companies. There are too many options to settle for something that’s not what the employee prefers. And, it’s too late to convince anyone that we need to be together to be productive. That is just not true.
For many organizations, this will be a difficult learning process. They will force employees to come back to work. Those employees will leave. Then, the same organizations will struggle to find anyone who wants to sit in their seats at work.
Listen to your people and learn the lesson.