Don’t Let This Temporary Crisis Go to Waste
Never let a good crisis go to waste.
I’m sure you’ve heard something along those lines at some point. Writers and commentators routinely trot it out in moments such as the one we’re currently living through. Apparently, the original dates to a 1976 headline atop a story in the journal Medical Economics: “Don’t Waste a Crisis—Your Patient’s or Your Own.” The author was counseling doctors to see a patient’s medical crisis as an opportunity to address and improve other health and lifestyle issues.
We can apply the same to ourselves today.
Tin-eared as it might sound, opportunity hides in plain sight amid this corona kerfuffle. A sea change is now underway that, I think, will fundamentally redefine “work.” And here I’m not talking about freelance opportunities and whatnot (though there’s great opportunity there, too).
No, what I’m talking about is how companies operate, and how, where, and when workers work. If you prepare yourself for this change, then when the crisis abates, you’ll be in a better position to reap some of the rewards that will accrue to those who see the proverbial silver linings inside the dark clouds.
Here’s what I mean…
Economies are as natural to Earth’s order as are plants and animals and the environment. Like life itself, economies find a way to survive through whatever mutation necessary. And mutation is exactly what is just now beginning, Darwinian as the process might be.
Workers tied to certain sectors of the economy are having to work at home. This work-at-home/work-wherever trend has been underway for years, but it was always a tangential niche in American business life. Now it’s literally the defining characteristic. In fact, just moments before I wrote this, I was on a routine conference call in which everyone was at home—which is decidedly not routine.
But you know what? There was nothing about that call that was any different than any other conference call we’ve had. Moreover, everyone on the call still gets all their work done on time.
When normalcy returns to the world—and it will—business owners and C-suite executives are going to have a hard think about this moment. And many are going to realize there’s no reason a workforce must be tethered to a cubicle farm that’s expensive to insure, heat, cool, electrify, etc. Why pay for that when workers already have a perfectly good cubicle a business doesn’t have to pay for: their home, the local coffee shop, a nearby park, waiting in the car while their kid is at soccer practice or gymnastics.
Some will think: Ah, but what about productivity?
Workers today who still have a job absolutely, positively do not want to risk that job at this particular moment. I suspect that company execs are about to find out just how productive stay-at-home workers can be. And workers will find out just how liberating a stay-at-home job is. When you can balance your work life and personal life to match your needs during the day, yet remain equally productive or more so, who will care if the work is done at 4 a.m. or 11 p.m.?
This won’t be a big-company theme only. And it won’t just be among office workers typically tied to a cubicle. One of my colleagues told me that her kids “started having their piano lessons on Skype last week and while, yes, in-person for that is better—it worked.”
What we’re seeing, in real time, is evolution not unlike that which Darwin described. Businesses are evolving to adapt to a changed environment. Workers have to adapt too. And that’s where opportunity lies for us.
We’ve all seen decades in the workforce. We’ve collected skills and a roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-it-done mindset that isn’t always as common today as business owners and executives would like. Marry those skills with a company’s need to adapt and evolve, and you can create an opportunity for yourself to build an earn-at-home lifestyle that can be portable if you wish, and which is blind to age.
How do you do this?
Think about the ways in which your skill set can address the evolving needs of businesses today. Then, build your own freelancing profile on Fiverr or Upwork or any of the other such online, gig-economy platforms that exist today. Then market your skills there.
On Upwork, for instance, scour the site for companies suddenly looking for mobile workers with your particular skills, and apply for those jobs. Upwork is not a site just for one-off writing and graphic arts assignments adored by the digital-nomad crowd. You can find long-term engagement, work-at-home opportunities in everything from legal and engineering, to administrative support, customer service, and accounting.
I’m willing to bet that in the aftermath of this current corona crisis, online job postings are going to increase noticeably.
Like I said…don’t let this temporary crisis go to waste.
Written by Jeff D. Opdyke