“Beware of the ides of March.” Shakespeare’s soothsayer of Julius Caesar could just as well have been foretelling the advancing coronavirus pandemic that engulfed the US in March after it ravaged China and parts of Europe, ravaged millions, and killed more than 230,000 people across the country. world until today.
In just a few days’ time, national and local stay-at-home orders in response to the pandemic brought the business as we know it to a halt. Suddenly, all companies except emergency health care, food markets, and a handful of essential industries had to swerve to a virtual model if they could. Other companies have suffered huge layoffs. The staggering number of workers filing for unemployment claims has recently exceeded 26 million in the United States. A major depression from the coronavirus was born.
Some companies, such as financial services, news outlets, and some gigs, have managed to seamlessly transition to work from home. Others, like those who sell hardware or provide athletic or wellness services, have been forced to develop new delivery schemes to keep customers engaged – and everyone’s safety.
As the economic lessons of the coronavirus pandemic are revealed to American workers, how can you use them to make your career pandemic-proof in the future? Consider applying these strategies:
1. Find a niche where it is needed.
Get creative in both the type of service you offer and the way customers access it. During the Alaska Gold Rush between 1896 and 1899, those who hit the empire were the people who sold supplies to the flood of miners. Keep that story in mind in times like these. An entrepreneurial spirit can help you be successful. Examples during the pandemic include how various cottage industries sprang up overnight around the provision of protective masks. An asbestos control company has sold many of its respiratory masks to primary care health workers. Beer makers unable to sell their beer to restaurants have started making hand sanitizers. And, instead of carrying passengers, ride-sharing drivers are moving into the delivery of groceries, meals, and packages.
2. Reaching out to customers and suppliers to offer solutions.
Ask those who have been instrumental in your business how you can help them overcome this crisis. Not only can it be critical to your career that they stay in business, but they will also help you provide any assistance and strengthen their loyalty. For instance, you can provide your technology skills to help a client who owns a small concert hall transition to a subscription-based live streaming model.
3. Upgrade your technology.
In today’s world, technology enables many workers to be fully productive. Specifically, video conferencing (think Zoom and Microsoft Teams) has replaced in-person meetings for now, and the ability allows teams to collaborate and move forward. Sharing documents (Dropbox, Sharepoint, etc.) also easily replaces any need for paper documents. Make sure you have the necessary platforms to work outside the home. In addition, you may need to invest in personal versions of industry-specific technologies, such as graphics software or product management software. It might be time to look at firewalls and backup systems and add memory to your home computer. Headphones are essential to reduce ambient noise (from even quarantined children at home) during important conference calling meetings.
4. Investing in your home office.
If you’ve set up a temporary home office at your dining room table and your back is rebelling against the straight-back chair, it’s time to make a change. An investment in an ergonomically designed desk and chair to make sitting or standing at the computer better for your body and to avoid back problems.
5. Creating a customer list across multiple industries.
As the current pandemic has proven, personal control over job positions, contracts, and flexibility can determine whether your career will fail or survive. Normally, many workers prefer the safety net of an established employer. But with companies having to lay off workers, independent contractors and consultants have the ability to expand in new directions. For example, if you provide consulting services to develop education curricula, you can now expand your services to offer training programs to various companies. This way, your customers cover several sectors and you are safe.