Covid-19 has altered every aspect of our lives. Our ability to adapt has become more important than ever.
This is especially true when it comes to the workplace. Adjusting to the 'new normal' for work is something we literally can't afford to fail at.
Our lives have been turned upside down. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are out of a job or unable to make a living. Many are now part of the approximately 3.4 billion people (just under half the human population) that struggle to meet their basic needs without assistance. Extreme poverty was on a path of steady reduction in most countries and this was projected to continue in the short to medium term at least. This trend has now been reversed, with hundreds of millions more people likely to face this peril in the next few years.
The recovery of the global economy is expected to be slow and many industries will never be the same again. With infection rates increasing in much of the world, more lockdowns on the horizon and multiple months to wait before vaccines are ready and can be rolled out to the general population, simply holding out is not an option. For now at least, the new normal for work and life is here to stay.
Here are some ways you can adapt to working in an uncertain world:
1) Build a new routine
We humans truly are creatures of habit. Whether we realize it or not, our routines are vital for normal functioning. Without healthy routines we are more susceptible to stress, more likely to be in poor physical condition, eat & sleep worse and struggle more with time-management.
If you haven’t yet developed a new normal routine that works for you, now is the time to do so. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working from home or are back out in the big wide world, life is different. You’ve probably had to make a lot of adjustments already. If you’re based at home, just about every aspect of your work and life routine has probably changed.
If you’re able or required to be at an external workplace, you most likely have to work within strict social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Recreational spaces, restaurants and other places you used to frequent are also probably working at reduced capacity and under strict guidelines or not at all.
2) Diversify your revenue streams
Even before this crazy and unpredictable year it was a advisable to not rely on just a single revenue stream to support yourself and your family. Now, having multiple ways to earn seems like a necessity. Even in a leaner world, there are always opportunities available for those that have the will to find them and the savvy to take advantage of them. The new normal for work may be challenging but there are still paths forward.
Some ways you could try to diversify your revenue stream include:
Starting a business:
Of course, this can be risky (especially right now) but it’s also the option with the highest potential payoff. New niches are forming and others are expanding based on our altered way of life. If you can get the initial investment together, now might just be the perfect time to start that business you always dreamed of having. Even if you don’t have much cash to invest, there are businesses that cost virtually nothing to get going. You could make and sell clothing, jewelry or other artisanal/homemade goods. You could even plant a veggie garden and try to sell some produce at a local market or co-op. At very least you’ll have some yummy organic (hopefully) food and save some money on your bottom line.
If you’ve got some savings squirreled away and don’t fancy putting in so many extra hours, it might be time to take the plunge and put your money to work. Markets are volatile right now and for the most part the environment for new businesses is hostile, but there are certainly some industries and niches that are doing well. You’ll need to be both intelligent and brave.
Working as a freelancer online:
If you have skills that are transferable to the online space you already have a big advantage over most of the world’s workforce. This pandemic has already forced us to reassess which types of work can be done remotely and which can not. Many fields had already started to move online, writing, translation, design, marketing, web development, admin & IT support, engineering, architecture and accounting to name just a few. Some of the most popular platforms for freelancers include Upwork, Guru, Fiverr and Toptal. Don’t expect instant results unless you’re already highly qualified and experienced in your field. But, with time and effort you my even be able to become a full-time freelancer.
3) Join the sharing economy
In case you’ve never heard of it or have no idea what one is (where were you the last decade?), a sharing economy is the term used to describe an economic system based on collaborative consumption. If that sounds equally effusive, it’s basically an economy where assets and services are shared among private individuals, cutting big business and government out of the loop. This includes everything from trade and gift giving among neighbors to crowdfunding campaigns and Wikipedia.
Sharing economies are experiencing exponential growth because of the the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s only logical, billions of people are currently being forced to find new ways to live and work. Coming together to find creative solutions is what has made humanity the most successful species on Earth. In times of crisis we tend to do our best work.
There are loads of ways to get involved with and benefit from sharing economies. While this may be the oldest economic system on the planet, the internet has opened up possibilities that our ancestors would not even be able to comprehend.
It’s also a way for us to rebuild something that many of us have lost but that they would recognize very well: A sense of community. If this is something that doesn’t exist where you live, maybe you should be the one to get the ball rolling. If you don’t already know your neighbors, why not reach out and try to create a community initiative that everyone could benefit from? There are undeniable benefits to living in a strong and connected community and they form more easily than you might imagine.
4) Up-skill yourself & future proof your life
In the new normal for work, nothing is certain. As humanity has advanced technologically, jobs and the people that do them have become more specialized. Today, the outlook for the job market and world economy is as bleak as it’s been since the great depression. It’s probably fair to say that there has never been a more important time to have a varied mix of skills and abilities. One way to do this is taking courses that help you to broaden your professional horizons. While some industries crumble, others march towards a bright future. Anything that interests you and can be done online is a good starting point. It’s also estimated that there will be over 20 million ‘green’ jobs created in the next decade. If you’re in an industry that has an uncertain future, this is the moment to re-tool yourself for the post-pandemic green economy.
Another way to future proof your life is by learning practical skills that will help you to be more self sufficient, both now and in the face of other serious catastrophes. Using permaculture principals, it’s possible to grow enough food year round for 2-3 families in one small garden. You could learn to make your own furniture, clothes or household & hygiene products. YouTube is the greatest DIY tool in the history of mankind. With the internet, books and the the majority of knowledge humanity has ever collected right at your fingertips, there is little you can’t do.
Other ideas for adapting to the 'new normal' for work
Different situations call for different forms of adaption. If you’re working from home, some things to that will help you to maintain balance include:
- Maintaining clear boundaries between work and home life
- Having a dedicated office space
- Finding ways to avoid distraction
- Making the most of the extra time
- Make sure you get enough time out of the house
The new normal for work and life is not a done and dusted thing. Our lives will remain in constant flux for the next couple of years at least. It’s important to remain vigilant of your mental state as well as your physical one. If you’re struggling to adapt to these strange times, it might be a good idea to consider asking for help. This could be from a professional or your family and friends – the important thing is to be able to talk about the things that are bothering you rather than letting them fester. We need each other now more than ever and this virus has only confirmed what we already knew: We are stronger together, but not everyone has realized that yet.