I know, I know. Only a few days ago I was writing about how WFH isn’t necessarily good for women’s careers. And I stand by what I wrote; there are risks. At the same time, the seismic changes that are affecting the whole world, do present opportunities.
Any crisis brings with it opportunities
The thing about any massive change (and I think we can all agree we are seeing massive change all around us) is that all the “old ways” are unlocked. No one is sure what “normal” looks like any more. Whilst the uncertainty that this creates can be paralysing, for those prepared to take some risks and be creative, it also presents tremendous opportunity.
- Working from home is suddenly not only permissible, it’s now the “done thing” and anyone who says its impossible clearly has not been paying attention.
- People are revealing their human sides. Everyone’s joining Zoom or Teams from their living room, kitchen or home office. Those of us who are parents share a little moan about home schooling. Whatever our title or level of seniority we’re all in the same boat. And more likely to be sympathetic.
- It’s never been easier to contact people. No-one’s on a plane. Few people are in endless meetings. They pick up the phone.
- Fuddy duddy, stick in the mud organisations are suddenly getting flexible. It’s not just “this job can’t be done remotely” that’s being ditched “it has to be a full time” is also in jeopardy. And as they change their business models they need
- Budgets are tight. This can be a good thing. Firms are willing to use contractors, to take people onto temporary contracts, to use alternative suppliers, all of which present opportunities for those people who are not in the “full time, permanent job, traditional career labour market”.
- Diversity matters. It really does. The Black Lives Matter movement and events of the summer have made many organisations wake up to the need to stop with the rhetoric and get serious about making a difference to diversity, on all fronts.
- It’s worth the risk. What have you got to lose?
Be ready to seize the moment
All of this means, there are opportunities for those who are agile, brave and intrepid enough to seize them. My advice:
- Remember, your next role need not be your final destination. It’s just a step in the right direction. Treat it as such.
- Don’t over think it. As Richard Branson once said “Leap before you look”. How will you know if you don’t try.
- Your technical skills will come back. If you’ve had some time out, it’s easy to sit at home worrying that they won’t. They will: by doing the work.
- Pick up the phone. Phones were originally designed to talk to people. Talking to people is underrated. Talk to the people you know who can open doors or make connections. Tell them what you’re looking for. Ask for advice.
- Be creative. “Work” doesn’t necessarily mean “a job”. There are all sorts of models for finding ways to get paid employment. Most sectors have new entrants using technology and alternative business models to disrupt the incumbents.
- Whether it’s “I’ve been out too long”, “They’ll have me working all hours” or your views on what the “job” will look like, be prepared to ditch your assumptions. So much has changed. Don’t let your assumptions hold you back. Be intrepid, take a leap, what have you got to lose?
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