⏱ 5 min reading
Lately, we have been hearing the phrase “The New Normal”, more and more often. This phrase generally refers to the adjustments people, businesses and governments have had to make in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
These adjustments range from, requiring people to wear masks, and wash their hands more regularly to international travel restrictions. The impacts of the vast majority of these changes have been negative. Millions of people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the outbreak, and people’s lives have been negatively disrupted.
What can you do about it?
The question is, how have the disruptions impacted you, and what can you do about them. A popular quote is that “so often in life, it is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”. There are always opportunities when there are disruptions to the system.
So, let’s discuss some of the impacts of COVID-19, and our suggestions in dealing with them.
COVID-19 has hit some industries harder than others, but overall, the job losses have been record breaking. With economies around the world, recording massive contractions in GDP, most businesses are in no rush to hire employees.
As a result, many people who lost their jobs, have resorted to starting their own businesses, or working as freelancers. The rates of self-employment have seen a significant increase, and in many cases, they are encouraged by the governments as way of providing more flexibility to the work force, especially in terms of short term and contractual work.
Entrepreneurship as a solution
In many cases, the governments are even providing grants and/or tax incentives to encourage people to start their own small or micro businesses. Starting a new business can be very scary, but also highly rewarding. Netflix and Airbnb were set up during recessions, and have thrived since.
So now might be the time for you to look into whether you want to take the leap into entrepreneurship. You don’t have to set up the next Airbnb. Depending on your skillset, location, personal situation, it can be as simple as becoming a content creator for an online platform, or teaching a skill you have to others. This can be baking, or piano, or a language. You don’t need to be a world class expert in that skill. You just need to be good enough to teach your students.
Lockdowns around the world have been transformational. In many developed countries, people have been asked to stay home, and work remotely when possible. The proportion of people working from home in the US, has gone from 1 in 50 to 1 in 3 within a matter of weeks. This has been dubbed, the “work from home revolution”.
Tech companies are leading the charge towards working remotely. For example, Twitter announced that their employees can work from home “forever”. And Facebook expects roughly half of its staff to work remotely in a decade. These trends have led to less demand for office spaces.
Embrace digitization and save on the office rent
The lockdowns have accelerated the already existing trends towards digitalization of processes and the shift towards remote working. By some estimates, the number of staff in London offices can be reduced by 2/3rd. Businesses and their employees can achieve greater savings by reducing their office lease/rent and reducing commute times.
The normalisation of “work from home”, has in some cases been a welcome change to working mothers who have traditionally struggled balancing work and life commitments. Mothers who were stigmatised for preferring to work from home or based on flexible hours, are now experiencing a greater level of acceptance towards their choices.
The realisation has been that people should be paid for their function/output instead of the time they turn up at work. This further drives efficiency, as the focus is now shifted towards the output generated by employees, rather than the time spent at work.
Adapt and save costs
As a self-employed person, or a small business owner, it is now perfectly acceptable to work from home, without the need of spending money on office rent, and wasting time everyday in traffic. That commute time can now instead be spent on upskilling yourself, finding more clients, or spending more time with your love ones.
A key ability that businesses require in order to survive long term, is their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The faster one is able to accept the situation, and make the most of it, the more ahead of the competition they are.
With the COVID-19 spreading to more and more countries, most nations announced travel restrictions. These restrictions have mainly targeted international travel, but in some cases like Australia, they even apply to domestic travel within the country. Some Australian states announced restrictions against travellers from the state of Victoria, where the outbreak was more severe than the other parts of the country.
International business travel has mostly ground to a halt, due to quarantine requirements and expensive travel costs. In many cases, employees who were away for work or on holiday, were stranded in foreign countries when the measures came into effect. They had no choice but to stay put and carry out their work remotely.
Internet to the rescue
Research has shown that, in general, the higher a countries’ per capita GDP, the more people are able to work remotely. The travel restrictions have had a very negative effect on certain industries where people have to work on-site. But in other industries, where remote working is possible, it has actually created many new opportunities, especially if the countries involved have good internet infrastructure.
If businesses are advising their employees to remain at home, and to not come to the office, then one is not really required to even be in the same country or city. An example of the effects of this phenomenon, is the fact that, many employees in Silicon Valley, despite of their very high salaries, have been complaining about the high accommodation costs in San Francisco and the surrounding area. With remote working now being an option, many employees have chosen to leave town and move to more affordable cities, while maintaining their high paying Silicon Valley jobs.
The World is your Oyster!
The same principle can be applied to one’s clients. Previously, many only looked for clients within their own city or neighbourhood. But now, with more and more work being done online and remotely, you, as a small business owner or freelancer, can market yourself to your potential customers all over the world. This rapid change in expectations and behaviours, forces one to break out of their bubble, and to learn to market themselves online, to a greater audience.
Thanks to the internet, you can now work for clients, based in bunch of different countries, all from the comfort of your home. For businesses, this also means that they are now more open to hiring remotely, which in many cases, can be significantly cheaper for them. There will of course be new challenges with this new way of working, and it can be hard to create synergies and company culture over online video calls, but those who manage to overcome these challenges, will be rewarded handsomely in the coming future.
These are just some examples of the results of “the new normal”, and some suggestions and ideas for you to think about. If there are any specific topics you would like us to dig in deeper, or you would like to suggest to us, please feel free to reach out to us.