…And What That Means About Moving Forward
As we come out of the pandemic many doors have closed.
Many businesses, non-profits, and government organizations are out of business, or a mere shadow of their former selves and will never again be what they once were.
Their employees won’t be going back to the “office.”
Their employees have moved around the country for family reasons, personal reasons, or just been displaced by the upheaval a major economic change has on peoples’ lives.
But this quote by Alexander Graham Bell may have never been more appropriate “When One Door Closes Another Opens”
In this sea of bad news, there is the proverbial silver lining. The big winner in the post-pandemic world is the freelancer and the remote worker.
Much has changed for the good, and those who realize it quickly will have an advantage.
- Resistance Gone: One of the first changes I noticed was for the better part of 20 years that I’ve been on freelance networks there has always been resistance among hiring managers in companies, non-profits, and governments.They felt as if the freelancer, especially those working remotely would be much less productive than the employee sharing the same office building as the manager.The freelancer was somehow viewed as a second class citizen in the workplace. Somebody who worked as a freelancer because they had to, never because they wanted to.This was demolished during the lockdown as managers discovered freelancers and remote workers were even more productive when working from home and proved capable of keeping their organizations rolling along.
- Employees Working From Home Are Productive: According to workplace benefits consulting firm Mercer, 94% of 800 employers surveyed indicated that productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic.A study from Pew Research estimate 71% of employees were now working from home, proving that remote workers in large proportion are able to work from home effectively.
It is amazing how removing a long commute, removing the distraction of irrelevant meetings and office gossip, bad lunches grabbed on the run, and all the other distractions of office life that your remote worker can be even more productive.
- Cool New Tools. One of the great things that happened during the pandemic is a number of tools came online for people working remotely. Some of them were already out there in the marketplace but they’ve been terrifically enhanced for freelancers and remote workers because of the pandemic and lockdowns and people working from home.
The tools that have been greatly enhanced our world:
Zoom, the big daddy rabbit in the marketplace for video conferencing. Now with enhancements for security, privacy and an amazing array of background to keep us from having to see a messy bed or a kitchen in need of cleaning.
Slack that is kind of the informal office chatter tool. Think of asking a question over the top of your cubical. Slack is the electronic to do that even when your “cubical mate” is 1,000 miles away.
Trello and Asana are project management tools that in essence keeps everybody on the same page and helps keep track of versions of documents, videos, etc.
Trends for the Immediate Future
- Employers Will Seek More Freelancers in Their Staffing Plans.Organizations everywhere want more flexibility in their staffing plans. In the past a company may have had 20 employees. Now they will have 12 to 15 core employees and six to eight freelancers that come in during seasonal peaks or to handle very specialized projects.This will give organizations better flexibility in controlling their staffing cost while being better able to afford more specialized talent when needed.
- Hiring Trends Favor People That Have More Experience.The ability to build an organization up after a trauma like the pandemic must rely on people who have experience coming back from economic upsets.Baby Boomers (and really anyone over age 50+) have faced these kinds of economic upsets many times in their career and met the demands of rebuilding after any economic crisis.Employers are looking for wisdom beyond what we would call “book learning” experience but practical experience seasoned over those decades.This is not your first rodeo!You know, depending upon when you began work, you probably go back to the fuel crisis and the early 70s, some of the financial upsets in the 80s and the Internet boom in the 90s, and then the Internet crash in the year 2000. Then 9/11 and the financial collapse in 2008 and 2009.You’ve lived through all these upsets, you probably worked through all these traumas, you manage people, projects, and activities through all these and that really has developed a lot of expertise in you that’s desirable right now for coming out of a situation that we’ve never really encountered before.
- No More Late Nights (or Long Days) at the Office.Organizations are taking a long, hard look at what we call “the office.”They are rethinking how much they really need it, or at least if they need that much of it.Some companies have already informed employees they can work from home for the foreseeable future.Some companies like JPMorgan and Salesforce are reducing their footprint in major metropolitan areas. Others are reducing the number of staff that they have in buildings so they can achieve new social distancing regulations.
There has never been a better time to look at freelancing and remote work as something that makes sense for you.
You’ve never had more options. Many more companies and organizations are hiring freelancers and remote workers now than they ever had in the past because they now are confident that they can successfully have people working remotely.
The changes we saw during the pandemic have proven to the world remote work and freelancer integration is not only possible but desirable because of its many benefits: greater productivity, better focus, minimization of disruptions, and cost-saving on commuting.
Going forward we see a much-increased appetite for freelancers, especially those with deep knowledge, well-honed skills, and lots of experience rebuilding after a big economic shift. At the same time, we are seeing millions of job openings go unfilled. Looks like a great opportunity for those age 50+ who learn how to thrive in the world of freelancing and remote work.