Dear J.T. & Dale: After this crisis, what kinds of jobs will be available? — Mercedes
J.T.: History suggests that after a sharp economic contraction, most companies that are able to reopen will be very conservative. They’ll worry they won’t be financially stable enough to resume operations at their previous size, and this means the entire economy will continue to lag. At the same time, when something this traumatic changes the course of how we live as a society, a lot of new companies designed to support the “new normal” pop up. My advice: Think about your work and how it has changed. Contemplate how businesses in your industry will need to adapt. If you can think ahead, you can start to anticipate the possibilities. For example, think of all the new technologies that will be designed to help people do things virtually that they used to do in offices or public spaces. A great example is Peloton. At first, you needed to buy one of their expensive machines to use their service, but now you can download their phone app and do hundreds of different workouts for a monthly fee. Businesses that play to the changes we face will do quite well. It’s up to you to connect the dots and think about what kinds of business models will evolve in your industry or play to your professional strengths.
DALE: All good advice, with one quibble: I don’t think it’s up to you to figure out the business models that will thrive in the coming economy. There are geniuses at work on that exact topic, and you can tap into their work via stock market analyses. There’s fabulous information on brokerage websites, and there’s plenty on CNBC or Bloomberg Television. You may have to set your DVR, but find a show you find entertaining and you’ll get to listen in on high-level discussions of the future of industries and innovators.
Dear J.T. & Dale: Thanks to COVID, our company has mostly been working at home. The company is drawing up a return to work plan, but I want to keep working at home. Any tips? — Cory
DALE: We’ve been getting that question a lot, and now is time to start lobbying your management, prior to the company policies being established.
J.T.: I saw one study saying that over 60% of the people who’ve had to work from home want to stay working from home.
DALE: So the issue probably won’t come as a surprise to your bosses. But because there are plenty of managers who like to keep an eye on employees, you’ll have to do some negotiating. Start by finding out who’s on the team working on the return-to-work plan, and see if any are sympathetic to keeping at-home options open. Like any negotiation, you’ll need to think through the other side of the issue, especially the WIIFM for management, the old What’s In It For Me?
J.T.: Yes, whether talking to the policy team or eventually to your boss, you need to explain exactly how your productivity has increased. Specifically, use facts and figures to show how you have saved or made the company more money as a result of your working at home. The more you can prove that the team and the company are going to profit from you working from home, the better the chances.
DALE: You’re going to need to disarm any of management’s objections, so you’ll need to think through what those will be. Perhaps in conversation, you could ask colleagues what problems they’ve encountered while working at home.
J.T.: Be prepared to address communication. Again, the more you can prove with facts and figures that you are working more effectively with your teammates, the better. That said, understand that they may say no. Should that happen, you may want to start looking for other employers. Lots of companies are realizing that they don’t need expensive office space and can build their company successfully with virtual workers. So the opportunity for people to work from home should increase as the economy improves.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.