The past fourteen months have changed the nature of work, especially for remote workers. They no longer spend hours in the car, making their way to one shared office building. They’re waking up and joining their colleagues via Zoom. And, this remote environment is transforming more than just our morning commute.
Just look at today’s job openings. Many companies are now posting one job in multiple cities, or they’re simply listing the job as remote. What’s considered normal has evolved. Companies are being more flexible in order to be competitive. In the past, employees needed to live in the city where the company was located. If they lived in a market with few opportunities, they might be out of luck unless they were willing to uproot their life. In the world of remote work, employees can now accept jobs that are outside of their local area.
But, the changes go beyond physical location. Things have also changed about the work dynamic. A large part of our work culture is made up of meetings. We gather together to discuss ideas, and to work on projects. In many of these meetings, there is a hierarchy. People position themselves in a meeting room based on important factors. Often, the highest ranking employees are seated at the table. Lower ranking employees can be found in chairs further from the center of the room, such as along the wall. At the table, workers sit at the head of the table or near the middle based upon their status, or a desired perception.
In an online meeting, this hierarchy is reduced. Every employee is given a small video square that is the same size as everyone else in the meeting, regardless of seniority. When participants want to speak up in the meeting, they often raise their hand. And, they are called on to speak based on how soon they raised their hand. No one is any closer to the most senior executives in Zoom meetings.
Beyond this, what we wear to work is now less status oriented. Over video, it’s harder to view a full outfit. It has led many workers to switch to more relaxed athletic wear. And, casual conversations are less casual. There are big downsides to this lack of team interaction. But, if someone felt left out of important networking opportunities, this is likely no longer the case.
Working remotely also allows employees to setup a home work environment that works well for them. So, rather than a standard office setup that may not be desired, each person is able to design a custom environment that is the most productive for them.
Not all of the changes at work are positive. For those with family responsibilities at home, such as children, remote work may be more challenging. And, regardless of how you feel about remote work, one thing is for sure. It is changing the way we work together.
Loneliness is at an all-time high. And it makes sense. The pandemic has been raging on now for over a full year. Many people have been working from home. This includes single employees who now have little social interaction outside of work.
Unfortunately, the remote work environment doesn’t making socializing all that social. Remote work encourages meetings to be more structured and scheduled. When employees log into a call on Zoom, there is often very little small talk. This is especially true when the meeting is made up of more than two people.
This can be efficient. Some people are getting more work done than usual. But, we’re losing sight of the small things, such as how our coworkers are really doing. It’s harder to tell how someone is through the computer screen. It’s harder to remember to ask about their families or special milestones. And honestly, with COVID, there is often less to ask about.
On top of this, working remotely can create new layers of political and social dynamics that add to daily stress. Sadly, when we are feeling lonely and then extra stressed at work, it can multiply the feelings of isolation. This can turn into a viscous cycle where we’re left feeling upset, unmotivated, and very alone.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to force yourself to reconnect with those around you. Admitting you’re struggling can be tough. It’s vulnerable. It doesn’t feel good. But, it can help. If you are struggling day to day, consider reaching out to a colleague. Be honest. Share that you’re having a tough time with the current dynamics at work.
You may be surprised to learn that your coworkers are facing some of the same struggles. They will likely be very understanding. They may share positive words of encouragement. If you need help with an assignment, they may volunteer to lend a hand. There’s also a good chance that they need someone to talk to as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting to turn the workplace into a full on therapy session. I’m also not suggesting that you should gossip about your other colleagues.
But, a tremendous amount of good can come from talking to other people. By opening up, you’ll find a friend. You’ll find an alliance. You’ll find help. And, before you know it, you will likely feel less alone.
If you’re hesitant to talk to coworkers about your struggles, try opening up to a close friend or family member. Sometimes, a listening ear can make all the difference. Alternatively, you could spend more time talking to coworkers about something other than your struggles. Feeling like you have friends in the company (even if they don’t know you’re struggling) can help.
Whatever you do, reach out and connect. We are in this together. It’s completely natural to feel lonely and to need others during this very unique time.
When you look at it, the numbers are staggering. Workers are looking to change jobs during or after the pandemic at a very high rate. A number of surveys have been conducted on the topic, and somewhere between thirty-five and sixty-five percent of all employees plan to find a new job soon.
One of the top reasons cited is corporate culture. The pandemic has drawn out for over a year. Not all companies have handled the situation well. Some have forced employees into endless meetings, or have been unforgiving with personal matters. The experience has been especially isolating for young employees who may be home alone, without an option to socialize with coworkers or even to go out with friends.
Many organizations have failed to recognize how tough working from home in this situation can be. Although, in fairness, those at the top are likely struggling with their own pandemic challenges. In the end, employees whose employers haven’t handled COVID well have had enough. They’re ready to move on.
In addition, many people have found added balance during this crazy time. They are reprioritizing what’s important to them. They are no longer interested in the corporate rat race or working themselves to the bone. These employees are not only looking to switch companies, they’re looking to switch careers completely. They want to do something different, and something that better suits their personal values and priorities.
Similarly, many workers have taken advantage of the work from home situation the pandemic has provided. They’ve left expensive cities and have moved closer to family. Many of those workers are not interested to return to the city or to the office anytime soon. They’re now looking for permanently remote jobs.
This change will present interesting opportunities for employees. The more people who change jobs, the more jobs will be available. And, all of this change may in fact give job seekers the upper hand. They may be considered for roles they were previously thought to be less than qualified for. And, employers will be forced to be more competitive with regards to benefits such as work from home.
Today, some candidates are interviewing all the way to the offer stage. Then, if the company is unwilling to allow them to work from home permanently, the candidate is walking away. This is something we never would have talked about two years ago, because the strategy would have had little chance of working. But, today, companies are being forced to rethink work from home in order to remain competitive.
What are you doing to prepare? This is an unprecedented time. With that, there may also be unprecedented opportunities. If you’ve thought of looking for a new job, it’s time to get your resume and LinkedIn profile in order. If you want to switch careers completely, take an inventory of your transferrable skills. Set up networking calls, and get yourself back out there.
The unfortunate truth of today’s job market is that applying for jobs is very competitive. Employers can be picky about who they hire and how much they want to pay. For many job seekers over fifty, the search process is a longer, harder road than they remember from years past.
This is especially true during the pandemic, when it has been harder to keep up things like hair color and regular gym work outs. Greys are showing through and age is becoming more obvious.
Some companies view an older employee as a risk. They can be more expensive, and less likely to stick around for the long term. An older applicant may be looked at as less flexible, and behind the times when it comes to technology.
Older workers want to switch jobs, but they feel trapped. They’re certain another company won’t take a risk to hire them.
If you’re facing this dilemma, start by taking a long look in the mirror. Think about what you can control at this stage of the pandemic, whether it’s home hair color, teeth whitening strips, or updated glasses. Evaluate your interview attire. If your clothes are outdated, consider purchasing something new. If you meet with the same company multiple times, change your shirt and tie or jewelry instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe. And, if you’re interviewing over Zoom, consider investing in a ring light. These can help with your appearance overall.
Next, evaluate your technology. If you’re outdated technology, it may be time to upgrade. Consider signing up for and participating in social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’re using an old email address (such as AOL or Comcast), it’s time to sign-up for a free Gmail account. If you’re not sure whether or not your email is outdated, think of how long you’ve had it and where it came from. If you’ve had it more than ten years, and it ends in your Internet service provider’s name, you could be at risk.
Last, spruce up your resume. Remove positions from the beginning of your career that are no longer relevant to what you do today. Do not include your high school, and keep any college related activities to a bare minimum. It’s no longer relevant that you were the president of the college chess team. You can even consider removing your college graduation year from your resume. It’s much harder to guess your age if you don’t provide the year you entered school.
The bad news is that with the pandemic, our normal upkeep has become a bit harder. The good news is that if you’re interviewing from home, you still have some control. Start with these simple tips, and you’ll quickly find that you shave years off your appearance and your resume. Although you can’t eliminate age discrimination altogether, you certainly can reduce the likelihood that it significantly impacts your search.
How relieved are you that spring is here? After months of winter paired up with snow storms, and a long global pandemic, seeing flowers and clear skies brings much hope for the future. It’s finally warm enough to spend time outside. With the vaccine rollout, we are beginning to look toward the future. And, the job market seems to agree.
In March, the US unemployment rate dropped to six percent. There were 916,000 new jobs created. This is the fastest we have seen jobs added since last summer. Job growth was across the board, with a larger increase in leisure, hospitality, public and private education, and construction. This is good news.
Many people have been putting all of their energy into holding onto their current jobs through the pandemic. And, it makes sense. It has been hard to know which way things would go or how long it would take to get back to normal life. It has been unclear what work will even look like in the future. Will we continue to be remote? Will we go back to the office full time? Or, will it be some combination of the two?
If you’re like many people, you haven’t had the energy to job search. Just getting through each day has been a larger task than we’d like to admit. We’re worried about an array of new problems. Kids are doing school from home. We’re working from home. We’re either completely alone or with our entire family. And, medical risks seem to be around every corner – whether from the pandemic to mental health. It takes more effort than usual to keep moving ahead in a positive direction.
But, spring brings a new energy and an opportunity to take a deep breath. Companies are actively seeking out new candidates for interviews (even when they haven’t applied to jobs). Companies are adding new jobs and for some jobs, it appears there may be fewer people looking than jobs available. Companies are working around the pandemic, interviewing candidates via Zoom and Skype. They are moving ahead with a look to our more normal future.
What does this all mean for you? If you’ve been wondering when to look, this may be the time to get started. If you do, you’ll increase the chances that you beat other candidates who haven’t yet started to think about looking.
Search for the latest job postings. When you apply, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, companies don’t require you to meet every criteria in a job description. They’re looking for the best candidate, not the perfect candidate. Second, if you have a desk job, consider looking outside your local area. Even if a job isn’t listed as remote, the company may be open to remote work.
If you’ve been waiting for the right time to consider something new, the spring may give you just what you need.