The impact of the current pandemic has been seismic, the impact of which will continue to be felt for some time to come not only from a global point of view but also for those people individually who have been most effected through illness, the loss of loved ones or the loss of their job and life as they had previously known it.
In the coming weeks and months, the world will re-emerge from this colossal crisis and be forced to wake up to face a ‘new normal’ and for the vast majority of us, many aspects of our personal as well as professional lives will have changed for good. The BBC has, as always, cornered the market on doom and gloom so this article is to explore the other side of the coin and embrace a decidedly more optimistic outlook. I want to look to the future and see how we can adapt ourselves professionally to the new normal and move forward with energy and tempered enthusiasm.
Agreed, some industries stand out as ones which have and will continue to suffer and will have to reinvent themselves, changing their business model to fit the new world order. Air travel and retail being two obvious categories here which will need to step up their reinvention massively in the wake of this situation. However, that’s essentially what will happen as we will still need and want to fly and we still need and want to buy stuff to support our lives so the market for their products and services remains, however, it remains in a new and exciting, albeit as yet undefined, form.
Companies and organisations are about to emerge from their crisis mode, shutting down almost everything other than essential operational requirements in order to survive. Many of you will have felt this with salaries being cut, possibly redundancies and hiring freezes. Firms will start now to look forward and make plans for the future and I feel we will start to see plans being formed for the second half of 2020 and beyond.
Many people will have been considering recently that this could be a good time to re-evaluate their career options. Perhaps you are in a firm or industry sector which has been impacted heavily or which you know will very shortly embark on a massive program of change. You may be wondering if you are interested in being part of that internal change or instead being part of something new. There is nothing wrong in not wanting to be an unenthusiastic participant in the massive change that will come. If you don’t see yourself as being happy with this possible scale of change, perhaps it is time to look beyond the frontiers of your “old normal” way of life and familiarity to understand what else you could do and where your previous experience could be applied into a new organisation or industry. The alternative option of course, is to remain where you are because it’s familiar and stay there, becoming unhappy with all the change and exhausting yourself with trying to resist it, in the end finding that the familiar and comfortable upon which you sought to cling, is now a thing of the past and that the future has left you behind.
It could similarly be said of the thousands of students graduating this year. Right now the world is looking scary and very uncertain but if you consider your options carefully, look for the opportunity emerging from this crisis, you will start to understand how you can fit in and add value to a whole range of commercial industry sectors.
There are some areas for growth already emerging. The mode of work is likely to have its most dramatic change since the advent of the internet. Many companies have been forced to realise that employing people to work from home some of the time means they won’t need so much office space, a costly overhead for any business. So, the growth in collaboration software will be huge and some industries will probably require bespoke solutions for this to work. This will allow for a much better work/life balance, something companies have talked about a lot for the last decade but struggled at times to really enable it to happen to the satisfaction of both the employer and employee.
E-Commerce took off as a result of Amazon trail-blazing the concept and making it normal, but I think we are about to see another new acceleration of E-commerce. The big supermarkets are looking to capitalise on their growth in home delivery and this growth is set to continue, especially if social distancing becomes more long term. In the UK we are quite relaxed about having to follow a queue of people behind a trolley in the car park during the summer but in the winter our level of tolerance will be lower.
Healthcare is going to become a huge priority, and this will prove to be a conundrum for governments across the globe but the growth area here is for the health sector to harness cutting-edge technology in order to be as smart as possible, not only in the protection and recovery of people but also in advanced diagnosis. Catching conditions and illnesses early to be treated as cheaply and quickly as possible is the way forward.
These are just some examples of a couple of key areas for growth opportunity I see, but in every industry and in every organisation, this crisis should have exposed operational weaknesses to be rectified and opportunities to adapt and grow for survival. Additionally, on a more individual level, some of you will be asking yourselves if this is a good time to take stock, to re-evaluate what you have been doing and consider if it is time to seek new opportunities for your own personal growth.
- Start to think what sort of role you want to play in your current firm or industry
- Do you possess skills and experience which could be transferable? Consult with a professional if unsure
- Understand that the world will change and that you can be optimistic for the future so long as you are ready and willing to adapt to it
Once this pandemic has become part of history, which it will, we should look forward to the future, the possibilities which are there. The “new normal” way of working and living may be scary right now but take the time to think, consider your situation carefully, discuss with others and see what your reflections produce. The future can be bright and full of opportunity through your own personal professional reinvention. There is clear scope for optimism for your future, we will bounce back from this but you should ask yourself; are you positioned well enough to take full advantage?
Mark Daley - Career Consultant