The Future: Return to the Office, Work Remotely, or Freelance?
As you continue to adjust to life during and after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, returning to your previous income level may well be a challenge. If you experienced a layoff during the pandemic, will you be recalled to your job soon? Will your job endure as it previously did? If you are working from home, is your job ‘safe’? These are questions facing tens of millions of Americans.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “The U.S. Economy has recovered only half of the 22 million jobs lost due to the pandemic” as of September 25, 2020. The August 2020 report also noted that “permanent job losers rose by 534,000 to 3.4 million and persons on temporary layoff were still at 6.2 million.” While this is a significant improvement over the 18.1 million high in April 2020, it does raise the question of how many of the remaining 6 million-plus will be recalled to their jobs in the fourth quarter of 2020, or the first quarter of 2021, and how many will be disappointed to learn they will never be recalled. Some jobs are now gone forever, as employers have ‘discovered’ the savings from re-engineering their processes and leverage automation.
Many Employers are in Trouble
The economic harm that the pandemic is creating is expected to last for years. Many businesses have suffered extended shutdowns (e.g., events, conferences) and significantly curtailed business (e.g., restaurants, retail stores) after reopening. The losses have forced a significant number to consider how to reduce all fixed costs, labor costs and related workforce expenses to survive.
They are rehiring fewer employees, installing social distancing workstations, creating barriers between workspaces in many sales and customer service environments, or downsizing office space in favor of work from home alternatives. While Flexjobs reported that “4.7 million to 7 million people in the U.S. were working remotely before the pandemic”, the numbers are expected to double or triple over the remainder of this year and 2021.
Employers are scrambling to figure out how to minimize (or eliminate) fixed (recurring) costs. Some of the biggest fixed expenses are real estate, salaried employees and contracts with spending commitments. They have turned to temporary furloughs, permanent layoffs and switching salaried employees to temporary ones. Their workforce-related initiatives will affect employees at companies big and small, irrespective of the level – from the custodian to the executive suite.
If you are currently unemployed (and perhaps, even if you are employed), you need a “Plan B” to either augment or earn an income from the comfort of your home in the new normal. The economic impact of COVID-19 will continue to resonate throughout 2021. If you are currently unemployed, you need a “Plan B” to either augment or earn an income from the comfort of your home in the new normal.
“The economy will remain at risk of a renewed downturn so long as a vaccine or therapeutic for the virus remains out of reach,” said Oren Klachkin, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York.
Are you prepared? Let us check your pulse:
? Have you received any communication from your former employer regarding a possible return to your job?
? Are your unemployment compensation payments reaching the maximum benefit?
? Do you have savings to ride out the next year in the event you are unable to find a job or you are recalled with reduced hours?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, do not delay another day, it is time to activate Plan B.
Preparing to Search for a Job or Work Remotely or as a Freelancer
If you still do not know what your employer has in mind for your future, it may be time to begin to research and identify alternate jobs or freelance/gig job opportunities to replace lost income. You can start developing a fallback plan by creating a work environment at home to enable you to work remotely or offer you services freelance. Here is what you need:
✔️ Set up a separate dedicated workspace at home as your home office.
✔️ Get a laptop with Microsoft Office 365 OR spruce up your existing PC.
✔️ Get a dedicated phone line that won’t be answered by the kids or somebody else. Get a good wireless headset to go with your phone so you can talk while standing and walking around (studies have shown that standing up when speaking makes you sound more confident), something like a Plantronics USB headset.
✔️ Add a high quality, comfortable chair – remember, you will be sitting in that chair at least 40hrs/wk. Here are a few that you could look at –
|Hbada Office Task Desk Chair||Duramont Ergonomic Office Chair||Office Chair Ergonomic|
|Amazon Price||Amazon Price||Amazon Price|
✔️ Purchase a multifunction printer with copy, fax, and scan capabilities. These multifunction machines are fairly cheap these days and save you several trips to the copy center, UPS Store or FedEx Store. Here are a few that you could look at –
|HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 All-in-One||Brother MFCL2750DW All-in-One||Canon G7020 All-in-One|
|Amazon Price||Amazon Price||Amazon Price|
✔️ Purchase basic office supplies including a stapler, paper clips, notepads, file folders, and copy paper. You could simply order these online or make a trip to your local Dollar store, Wal Mart or Staples.
✔️ Practice self-discipline by maintaining a regular schedule, say 8am to 5pm with a lunch break, and stay focused during your ‘working hours’.
Next, update your resume by leading with three significant accomplishments and describing your acquired skills. Remember that your past jobs are where you used and developed your marketable skills. Make a list of them and create a good resume. If you want to pursue the freelancing route or seek a remote job, we’ll have articles coming on your options in the next few weeks.
“Just looking for the same job you once had, is a bad idea during this pandemic.”
The five most popular sites to acquire freelance assignments or gig work are www.fiverr.com, www.upwork.com, www.peoplepehour.com, www.toptal.com and www.freelancer.com. The first step to begin acquiring freelance assignments is to go online at several freelance sites and create an appealing profile complete with samples of your best work. You should not expect results overnight. Like anything worth doing, positive results will take time.
Let’s continue the conversation here.
1. What are your favorite ideas for a Plan B (and a Plan C and a Plan D)?
2. How do you think unemployed people can earn an income again – quickly?
3. What kinds of help would be useful in your current situation?
4. If you like this article, PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. And, come back often to read more about many other aspects of living in the ‘new normal’.