A strange new work landscape has been born from the chaos of COVID-19, and we are all looking for answers as to how we can adapt and keep our careers thriving. The 33rd issue of Acumen, GIBS’ quarterly business journal, provides some answers in “Are You Equipped for the New World of Work?” by Lisa Witepski.
Witepski explains that the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns have squashed certain highly valued business customs such as face-to-face communication and in-person collaboration, which have been central to business since the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). This is especially challenging given the simultaneous skyrocketing of technological solutions in business. In the wake of this rapid upheaval, Witepski asks, “What are the priorities in a post-Covid workplace?”
ADAPTATION OVER PREPARATION
A beast that adapts is one that survives – a lesson made clear by all that has happened in this historic year. Witepski writes,“Industrial and organisational psychologist, Margie Viviers, maintains that 10-year plans have become obsolete; the best we can do is try to plan for the potential disruptors we can but guess will interrupt our way of working within the next two years.”
She goes on to explain that, while we may expect some “get-ahead competencies” have changed in the new landscape, Viviers theorises that “The collaboration that has been highly prized in recent years will be in even greater demand. If anything, this could be elevated to superpower status, as leaders struggle to unite people across geographic divides.”
CREATIVITY IS KEY
We all know that the rocky road is far from over, and there are plenty of challenges ahead. To not only survive, but thrive, turn your team’s focus from planning ahead to developing short-term solutions to steer the business through the shifting market and circumstances. Further to this, creativity has become absolutely crucial to business success – workers need to be empowered by leadership to confront problems and enact innovative solutions. In this light, there has been a monumental need for team members with diverse skillsets; many companies are turning to online short courses to equip their employees with the necessary skills and knowledge. This not only creates a strong workforce, but encourages the pursuit of lifelong learning – the “key that will help us identify and unlock new opportunities”, according to Witepski. She also makes the point that online courses and webinars allow students sharpen their critical thinking to expand their network, which is increasingly important in a world with diminished face-to-face connection.
Witepski continues, “More than ever, the job of the leader is far greater than simply managing, driving or controlling people.” She argues that emotional intelligence and empathy are key assets for leadership in this difficult time, as workers grapple with pressures from all sides.
BACK TO BASICS
A great place to start when figuring out how to tackle new challenges is to look to the fundamentals of leadership and management. Coordination and planning, states Witepski, are especially important, especially as employers and employees work together to keep operations running swiftly and smoothly through this transition period. Furthermore, it is important that workers are not only competent but confident using a variety of technologies and platforms – this is another area where online training can be hugely beneficial.
COVID has caused the workforce to shift focus from keeping a single job to maintaining a flow of work, leading many to consider dipping their toes into freelancing. Templar Wales, co-founder of DYDX, explains that “individuals contemplating a freelance career would do well to arm themselves with technical skills such as bookkeeping, timekeeping and other basic business competencies”. Furthermore, hopeful freelancers need to ensure they are able to work with flexibility, focus and dedication, despite changing workflow, financial pressures and physical workspaces.
The future is uncertain, but it is conquerable with the right approach and mindset. Those who will thrive in the post-COVID world are those who are currently investing in the knowledge gain and skills development of themselves and their teams.
Ensure that you do the same, or get left behind.