What Does Covid-19 Mean for The Future Of Work?

‘’…Excerpts from Forbes Ashley Stahl’s article in June 2020…’’

There has been a lot of discussion around the impact of technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have for the future of work, and yet, ever since Covid-19 swept the globe, the message about our future has become even clearer: what started as a few weeks of working from home has evolved into a catalyst for change regarding how we work and live.

Over 16 million US workers have transitioned to working from home, a new category of careers has been born under the title “essential workers,” and the average American has now begun to stream online content for 8 hours or more each day.

It’s safe to say that the traditional definition of office life has been put to rest.  But, now we are all left to wonder, what will replace it?

Here are four probable shifts we’ll start seeing in the workplace as we eventually step into the post-Covid-19 world.

  1. Remote work could further the racial divide.

A survey conducted by WayUp found that only 10% of new college graduates believe it will be possible for them to find a remote job or internship. While this is a gloomy value for the previously bright-eyed graduates, what makes the data even more alarming is factoring in participants’ demographic. Candidates who self-identified as Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino were an astonishing 145% more likely to feel concerned about finding a remote job compared to White or Asian candidates. This discrepancy may very well be due to the occupational segregation that unfortunately still exists within the U.S.. Moreover, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identified that only 19% of African American and 16% of Hispanics would be able to work from home based upon their job functions. Construction and services jobs, held primarily by Hispanic and African American workers have been some of the hardest hit industries due to Covid-19, and are the least capable to provide remote work.

Not only were Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino descent candidates more stressed about getting a job, but 48% of them felt under qualified. When asked why, many of these candidates expressed fear about not having access to high bandwidth internet and living in confined or distracting quarters. Data shows that Hispanic/Latino and Black/African American families have more family members (19% and 7%, respectively) per square foot compared to caucasian families. Suffice to say, the more people confined to a small living space, the more distractions you can expect to face, not to mention devices fighting for that strong internet connection.  It’s no surprise that this demographic is more stressed about working from home.

Take the initiative to have conversations in an effort to understand how employees work best and what tools they may need to feel confident in producing quality work.

  1. Determining promotions and merit increase will become data-centric.

In the past, one of the main reasons employees received promotions was due to their tenure within the organization. In fact, one study found that 150,000 employees with low-performance scores from 75 companies received promotions in a single year. Suffice to say, there isn’t always a direct correlation between getting a promotion and stellar job performance.

With a drop in in-person connection, and an increase in online platform usage, the days of employees schmoozing their way to the top may be on the decline. The future of promotions looks to become more data centric, where the decision is based upon an array of qualitative metrics such as sales figures, year over year performance values, and customer service scores and reviews. We can also expect a rise in app and technology usage that evaluates employees’ digital experiences. These additions will provide employers with a more collaborative and data measured sense of the value you are able to add, despite being remote.

With the influx in remote work, some managers have already begun to analyse productivity through tracking employee keystrokes or remotely monitoring screens via programs such as TeamViewer.  The number of minutes idle on a computer or the number of keystrokes taken could be used as a baseline to dictate engagement and effort.

Whether this level of monitoring is beneficial or not, remote workers can rest assured that they still have a high chance of getting a raise. In recent years, 57% of females and 51% of males working remotely are still getting raises. This increase in promotions for remote workers may be due to the fact that productivity and workplace satisfaction are higher for employees who have flexible work environments. Not only that but, remote female staff received the largest merit increases over any other group. A larger transition to remote employment may be the very solution to lessen the gender pay gap.

  1. Cyber security measures will become even more necessary. 

As companies provide more employees with remote work computers and access to email on personal mobile devices the need to build heightened cyber security will become mandatory. While security breaches have risen 11% since 2018 and 67% since 2014, we can only expect this rise to continue, given that remote work widens an organization’s attack surface.

Here’s the harsh reality: a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds and 93% of successful data breaches occur in less than one minute. This theft can take place anywhere from someone’s car, to public transportation or at a local cafe, and employees must take on a sense of responsibility to help protect the security of their employer.

This risk has become so high that the International Associate of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM), a vendor neutral IT organization, expressed heightened warnings to government agencies and businesses around the risks involved with allowing employees to work from home without secure devices. A previous report found that 17% of U.S Securities and Exchange Commission laptops were being used in unauthorized locations. Needless to say, the more employees a company and agency lets work from home, the larger the breeding ground for security breaches.

In order to combat this devastating loss from happening to you, here are a few things Miller recommends doing now:

  • Update software and firmware of your antivirus, operating system and hardware with modems and routers.
  • Have a security measure in place for monitoring at user, application, system, network and database level
  • Have an active monitoring system in place.
  1. Methods of feedback will drastically change.

When offices were swarming with staff, managers could quickly stop by an employees desk and thank them for their hard work on a recent project, or offer gratitude for their input during the morning meeting. Covid-19 has torn down these familiar ways frequent feedback was provided, pushing management to use alternative means of providing consistent feedback.

This may not seem like a big concern, but when you take into account that Millennials, (born 1980 – 2000) who make up over half of the workforce, carry a deeply rooted need for consistent feedback…managers are in for some abrupt recalibration on how they provide feedback to keep their employees happy. The more time remote employees spend out of sight, the more they worry about also being “out of mind”.

Although putting an emphasis on qualitative data will drive promotions forward, employees need to maintain a level of personal connection. While relying on instant messaging and email is quick and consistent, managers should establish weekly or monthly, or even bi-weekly video (face-to-face) meetings to review projects and ensure employees are receiving the support they deeply crave, and need, to continue growing.  Use this time to not only offer performance feedback and support at work but to build a personal connection and relationship. Employees leave bosses, not jobs, so take the time to make your connections genuine and authentic. While it may feel like an employers market right now, losing employees has major costs to a business (50-75% of an employees annual salary) that likely isn’t something you want to deal with.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, data confirmed loneliness was at an all time high.  With more staff working at home, this epidemic may only grow. Managers have an opportunity to bridge this gap of isolation while building relationships to provide supportive feedback. Keep communication consistent and personal amongst your teams and in one-on-one virtual settings.

If you are a business leader, what can you do to prepare for the future?

  • Consider leveraging new apps and virtual technology to gather employee feedback such as PollEv, OfficeVibe, Vevox and Polly.
  • Do a deep dive on companies that have already been managing remote employees successfully. Every year, FlexJobs released their top 100 remote companies list which is packed with great examples of businesses that operate well with remote staff.  One great example is Dell, who implemented flexible work options back in 2009 and has been reviewed on Glassdoor as a top company to work for from home. Not only are their employees happy, but with 25% of their staff working remote, they have been able to save $12 million annually on real estate alone.
  • Revisit your healthcare plans.  Get curious and question how your healthcare options can improve to better support the wellbeing of your employees during pandemics such as Covid-19.  Evaluate where wellness stands within your organization’s culture and how you can better prioritize not only physical health, but also mental wellbeing.
  • Schedule ongoing one-on-one virtual check in meetings with employees to ensure that they feel heard and supported.
  • Consider how to adjust your training and on-boarding process based upon a more remote staff operation:
  • Cyber security training such as those offered on Alison or Coursera.  You may even want to build your own training unique to your business through an internal Learning Management System.
  • Health and safety training: based upon adjustments in the office such as hand washing stations or social distancing barriers, build out training on the new procedures and processes that impact daily office life.
  • Management training: with teams working remote the style of management will shift and the means of communication must adjust.  Generate training to outline how to be communicative and supportive when the majority of interactions are now virtual.
  • Prior Learning: How To Manage Remote Employees is a virtual seminar that reviews how to mentor and manage staff from afar, how to assimilate teams to work together and how to handle off-site struggles and office politics.
  • Coursera Virtual Teams: An online training on how to become an impactful leader working with virtual teams.

These changes are something that employers and employees alike must become familiar with and take precautions to prepare for.  At the end of the day, your career and business success remain in your hands.  It’s up to you to adjust to the changes, not drown beneath them.

Source: forbes.com

How to deliver a great speech

6 Tips On How To Deliver Persuasive Speeches Online…

Diana Beyer writes about speaking Online and more specifically about delivering a course Online. Here we have taken some of her content and tailored around what is important for any speech delivered Online.

But firstly, what are the Differences Between Offline And Online Speeches

Differences Between Offline And Online Speeches 

Let’s start making sure that you understand the difference between an online and an offline speech – just bear in mind that we are talking here about courses that don’t involve live video conferences.

First of all, it is an uncontrolled environment. Meaning that you can’t be sure of what your students are doing while you talk. You won’t be able to see their faces, analyse their reactions, so you can make adjustments from there. The feedback you are more likely to get will come only after the end of your course, meaning that it will be very late and expensive to change anything.

Secondly, it might be watched in blocks. As the content is available in a way that a student can use it anytime and for as long as they want it, they might not watch your video in full, but a couple of minutes per time.

Thirdly, interactivity will be established in a very different way. This is most likely to happen through emails or forums, as there is no way to know who will be online when. So strategies that involve asking questions to your audience are completely out of the table here.

Now that you have in mind the challenges you have to face, let’s go to the tips that will help you with them.

  1. Make sure that your equipment is right

This is really critical. No matter how brilliant you are as a speaker, your microphone and camera can ruin you from the very start. So take your time to test your equipment, the lightning, your computer, your whiteboard (if you are using one), or any other resources that you will use for it. Get to know what are the best things available when it comes to technologies. Choose your best angle (yes, it does exist!) and listen to your own voice. Record a few tests and see how it went. Ask other people’s opinion too, especially if you know someone with the same description of your target audience (read the next tip). And don’t forget to do it all over again just before you start, as some settings might need to be adjusted again.

  1. Get to know your audience

Who are your audience? How young / old are they? Where are they from? What is their background? What are they looking for? You need to answer these and other questions if you like to get your speech right. Depending on what you find out, you might need to adapt your vocabulary, your tone of voice, and how you organize what you are going to say. If you ignore it, you might sound too academic or just boring. They even might not understand you all together, and your content will get poor reviews for this easy-to-fix reason. So look for them wherever you can, from social media to your nearby coffee shop. But find out what you need to know so you can customize your speech to your target audience.

  1. Get inspired

You should always watch speeches similar to the one you are about to record so that you can get inspired. Of course, pick the instructors with the highest reviews, but make sure that you analyse the comments, so you know you are both dealing with the same audience and level of expertise. Not that you are going to be copying them, as you should learn to develop your own style. But finding out what works, getting everything organized using mobile apps or even your notebooks, and adapting it to your own needs is something that you should consider.

  1. Inspire them

Now that you have inspired yourself, it is your time to inspire them. The biggest challenge is to keep your audience interested, and this is your task as well, something that you will be trying to accomplish by being persuasive. As often as possible, you should challenge and encourage your audience. They need to believe that they are capable of doing something by themselves, so don’t make the process too hard, but also don’t underestimate their abilities. Surprise them and congratulate them during your speech, as if they were there. Use positive words, and let them know what is expected of them and what they should do next.

  1. Watch your body language

Here is where your words become less important, and you start to pay attention to how you say it. At this stage, your body language can be your best friend or your worst enemy as it gives away your intentions, experience and fears. What you should do here is to record yourself delivering the speech and check your body language (not the content). Among others, you should look for the following behaviors:

  • Your hands should be used wisely, to point out things and reinforce what you want to say
  • Your body should be balanced, so keep it feet shoulder apart
  • Pronounce your words clearly and breath calmly, so you will sound confident
  • Remember to include 5-10 seconds pauses, so they can have the time to reflect and take notes
  1. The Takeaway 

If you want to be a successful online instructor and deliver persuasive speeches, you will need to take it seriously and prepare yourself for your audience.

Of course, you need to know the content by heart, but as a speaker, you know that this is only 50% (or less) of the requirements. And that if you don’t manage to engage your audience and keep them interested, all your efforts could go to waste.

So make you sure that you also do your homework and that you know what you audience wants from you. Check your equipment, and test and train your speech before delivery.

 

Source: elearningindustry.com

Working from home…!

Many people work from home for many different reasons. Some have being doing it full-time for a long time; some part-time i.e. 1-3 days per week and 1-2 days in the office or vice versa and others have / are experiencing it for the first time whether it be part-time or full-time.

For some employees in the latter group, this will be a new experience although others may be used to working from home as in the former.

To work from home, you will need a laptop, a good internet connection, and a dedicated work space. There are many free online tools and resources for instant chat and video conferencing.

Employers must ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. Employees also have responsibilities when they are working from home.

This document from Citizens Information outlines the duties of employers and employee responsibilities during home working and giving us general tips on working from home.

Employers’ duties

Employers have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. These duties include the employee’s workspace if employees work from home.

Key duties include:

  • Managing and conducting all work activities to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees
  • Providing safe work that is planned, organised, and maintained
  • Assessing risks and implementing appropriate control measures
  • Providing safe equipment including personal protective equipment, where necessary
  • Giving information, instruction, training and supervision about safety and health to employees
  • Having plans in place for emergencies

If employees have a disability, are young workers or are pregnant, employers need to ensure that the tasks and working conditions do not adversely affect their health.

Your employer should check with you to ensure:

  • You are aware of any specific risks when working from home
  • The work activity and the temporary workspace are suitable
  • You have suitable equipment to do the work. For example, your employer should make sure that the applications and systems you need are installed on your computer
  • There is a pre-arranged means of contact

Equipment and your workspace at home

If your employer provides equipment, it must be in good condition and suitable for the activity. If you already have suitable equipment at home, it can be used temporarily.

Employers must check that your temporary home workspace is suitable for the work. This includes things like safe access to the space, essential equipment, that the space is big enough and free of clutter, there is adequate lighting, ventilation, heat, and that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition.

Employers need to communicate regularly with employees and ensure that employees are taking adequate breaks.

Employers should also:

  • Keep in contact with employees
  • Give regular updates to each employee
  • Have emergency contacts and procedures in place
  • Ensure employees take adequate breaks

 

Employee responsibilities

If you are working from home, you have a responsibility to take reasonable care of yourself and other people who may be affected by the work you are doing.

You must:

  • Cooperate with your employer and follow their instructions
  • Protect yourself and others from harm during the course of your work For example, you must take care of your equipment and report any problems immediately to your employer
  • Report injuries to your employer immediately
  • Follow any procedures put in place by your employer i.e. checking in regularly

You should:

  • Agree temporary remote working arrangements with your employer, including regular communication with them
  • Identify the work to be done at home with your employer
  • Identify the equipment you need to set up a safe workspace at home and agree this with your employer
  • Identify a suitable safe space within your home for home working
  • Agree plans and contacts to be used in the event of an emergency
  • Ensure you have a suitable workspace

General tips for working from home

We have summarised general tips to help you look after your health and well-being while working from home as follows:

  • Stick to your normal routine as much as possible, starting your day as you normally would: shower, getting dressed and eating breakfast
  • Keep times for lunch, dinner as close to normal as you can
  • When taking breaks resist the temptation to just go and make a coffee and come back to your workspace. Make the effort to go into another room or out to the garden, if you have one
  • Log off for your lunch break
  • If your partner is also working from home, arrange to have breaks together in another room or in the garden, if you have one
  • Give your eyes a break, for 5 to 10 minutes every hour. Get up, move around and take your eyes off the screen
  • Try to limit your social and news media intake
  • Exercise, stretch and go out for a walk if possible
  • Make sure you rest and get a good night’s sleep
  • Restrict the amount of alcohol you consume during the week to help you stay focused
  • Eat healthy foods even though as it is tempting to increase your intake of snack foods
  • Do take annual leave, it may help to take even a portion of the leave planned so you can concentrate on your own health and wellbeing
  • Keep in touch with your colleagues, pick up the phone or video call colleagues that you would usually spend breaks or lunchtime with and chat to them for a few minutes

Source: https://www.citizensinformation.ie

Career Change Galway

How to return to work after a long break…!

Alice Murray from www.independent.ie tells us that taking a career break is something that most employees will do at least once in their lives. It gives workers a chance to change sectors, travel the world, care for family members or spend more time with their children.

The benefits really are endless but there is one particularly daunting downside, how do you return to work after a long period of absence that you had no control of, especially when you had not planned it and it was caused by a global virus that has no vaccine?

Whether you’ve been out of work for 12 weeks or 12 months or 12 years getting back in touch with your professional self is no easy feat. Here are just a few tips from Alice to make the transition easier, after a planned career break.

Assess your situation

This is the perfect opportunity for you to re-evaluate your goals. Do you want to return to the sector that you were in before? Does that kind of work make you happy?

It’s important that you do not just jump back into a career because it is the only one that you know. Take some time to think about your key skills and values. Perhaps it’s time to retrain or upskill. This is the perfect opportunity to seek out a new job or opportunity.

Be upfront

Don’t try to pretend that your career break didn’t happen. Hiring managers and recruiters will find a massive gap in your job history suspicious if you do not explain it. Always include a short description about why you took a career break but keep it brief. This will hopefully put their mind at ease. You should never apologise for taking a career break but do be prepared for follow up questions.

Get connected

If you’ve been out of work for a number of months or even years then you are going to need to spend some time getting up to date on industry news. Reach out to former colleagues to let them know that you’re returning to the workforce. Arrange informal coffee catch-ups and phone calls. Not only will these people help you to get potential job leads, they may also be able to update you on the latest changes in the industry.

Update your On-Line presence

During your career break, you may have let things like your Jobbio and/or LinkedIn accounts become stale. Refresh all your pages with updated information and interests. Did you spend any time volunteering during your career break? Did you pick up any new skills or undertake a hobby? Don’t neglect these little bits of information, they are all part of your personal brand.

Check out career returner programmes

When you’re searching for your next role don’t neglect the various career returner programmes that are available. These programmes are designed to help employees who have taken an extended career break for any reason.

For example, Deloitte offers a fantastic return to work programme that lasts for 20 weeks. During this time men and women will receive tailored support and experience to help them to readjust to the working world.

Prepare for interviews

You should spend some time practising your interview skills as they have probably become rather rusty. Start with the basics. Remember things like body language, a firm handshake, good manners and an appropriate outfit can all impress a potential employer.

Next, get down to the nitty-gritty. Prepare the usual broad interview questions about your strengths, weaknesses and achievements first. Then work on more specific questions to do with the role you are applying for and your past experience. Pay close attention to the job spec as it will probably contain lots of clues about the type of candidate that they are looking for.

Remember that everyone has their own career path

As the old saying goes, ‘’Comparison is the thief of joy.’’ It might be disheartening to see an old work colleague get promoted or a past team mate starting their own business but remember that we are all on our own career paths. Your career break will have taught you many valuable life lessons, even if you don’t realise it yet.

 

Initial source: https://www.independent.ie/business/jobs/independent-jobs/how-to-return-to-work-after-a-career-break-37215246.html