How Will COVID-19 Change the Employment Landscape and How to Adapt Going Forward

by Sharon Elber

Employment Landscape Think Ahead

The coronavirus pandemic has forced radical and rapid shifts to the economy as we struggle to adapt work to shelter in place protocols. As the employment landscape shifts, employers and workers alike are doing their best to adapt.

This article will explore some of the changes that may be permanent shifts to help workers develop a strategy that will help them succeed both during and after the crisis has passed.

Accelerating the Work from Home Movement

COVID 19 did not start the work from home movement, but it has rapidly accelerated it. Employers once resistant to making room for teleworking are now being forced to carve out ways for employees to contribute to the company without commuting to the office every day.

Like all changes in the workplace, some benefits of new ways of working are likely to reveal themselves along the way. This incentivizes employers to incorporate some permanent changes to managing their workforce.

For example, having employees work from home saves employers some important costs such as office space overhead including renting space, energy costs, and workplace accident insurance for employees. Necessity is the mother of invention, and many of the changes we are seeing as a result of COVID 19 may be forcing employers to find unique solutions that offer permanent advantages in terms of reducing redundancy, automating certain tasks, and more fully utilizing cloud technology.

Employers are not the only ones benefiting from work from home jobs. Workers who are able to work from home may benefit from many perks of the job including a better work life balance, lower costs by avoiding a long commute, lower childcare costs, and more autonomy to create a more flexible schedule.

In addition, experts agree that the coronavirus epidemic has had at least one important silver lining for everyone: A radical reduction in CO2 emissions that may play an important role in both delaying the effects of climate change as well as providing insight on how changing work habits may be part of a permanent solution to solving the climate change crisis.

Shifting Job Titles and Responsibilities

As employers are struggling to adapt to the new normal, workflows are shifting to accommodate new ways to keep operations running despite social distancing due to the Coronavirus. Some of these shifts are likely temporary, while others are likely to be effective workplace innovations that improve efficiency, and thus may be around long after the COVID 19 pandemic is over.

This may be good news for workers looking to advance in their careers. Being able to adapt to change quickly and take on new job responsibilities during this time may prove to have long term benefits for those workers who can demonstrate flexibility during the current crisis.

For example, if you have a skillset that is not being utilized in your current position, be sure your employer is aware of your untapped potential. This is particularly true if you have unused technical skills that lend themselves to work from home coordination and management, such as online learning for teachers, online hiring for HR professionals, and using cloud-based technology to track tasks for managers (to name just a few).

Now is also a good time to reach out to your employer to ask about changing company needs and how you might best serve them. Employees that approach the current workplace climate with a desire to take on new responsibilities are likely to come out in better shape on the other side of this crisis.

New Skill Sets Likely to Be in High Demand Going Forward

As the workplace restructures workflows to accommodate more work from home opportunities, a surge in demand for relevant skillsets is very likely to happen. Experts predict that this is likely to have large scale permanent effects on the workplace.

Workers that take advantage of their down time now to learn tech skills that are relevant to working and learning from home are likely to see more opportunities to advance on the other side of the pandemic.

If we zoom out to look at employment sectors more broadly speaking, experts predict massive changes to the economy, with some clear winners and losers. Although the pandemic is causing some unforeseen changes, some of which may not yet have emerged, some patterns seem fairly clear.

Experts predict that some sectors of the economy will see a permanent boost as a result of shifts in the workforce that may last well after the danger of the virus has passed. Some examples include:

  • Tech sector jobs including AI, graphic design, web design and management, online marketing, web security, and cloud-based technologies.
  • Health sector jobs including physicians, nurses, lab technicians, and administrators.
  • Research sector jobs with a special focus on biological sciences. epidemiology, pharmacology, and in particular, computer technology related to using data to diagnose, track, and develop disease modeling for future pandemics.
  • Online learning sector including developing online teaching techniques, technologies, and policy development.
  • Online retail.
  • National delivery services.
  • Data specialists are likely to see a permanent increase in demand, both due to the COVID 19 crisis as well as market trends in place before the crisis.

Expansion of the Gig Economy

The last decade has seen an expansion in the online gig economy thanks to online platforms that connect freelancers and clients. Jobs such as writing, editing, graphic design, computer technology, data management and many skillsets that lend themselves to freelance work are likely to continue to expand through and beyond the current crisis.

As a result of Coronavirus, many employers and employees are dipping their toes into the gig economy for the first time. Offering benefits to both, the gig economy isn’t going anywhere as both workers and job creators seek to build an adaptable and sustainable workflow that may be more resilient in the face of uncertainty than traditional work arrangements.

Temporary Job Creation

The unique circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic have created a massive increase in the demand for certain jobs. However, some of these jobs are unlikely to continue in super high demand on the other side of the crisis.

One example includes sanitation workers including janitors, cleaning professionals, and sterilization services. Another is local food delivery services looking to fill the demand for people sheltering in place to receive food, groceries, and other retail items while sheltering in place.

While these types of work are providing people with much needed income in the short term, it is likely that they will fall back to normal or near normal levels of demand after the pandemic passes.

On the other hand, national mail delivery services such as FedEx and UPS may see a permanent boost as people become more used to online ordering as a kind of new normal post COVID 19.

Conclusion: What Workers Need to Know About the New Normal

Given what experts predict about how the Coronavirus may permanently shift the workplace, workers can make informed decisions about where to invest their energy going forward. Here are a few take-aways:

  • Invest in skills related to online work and cloud-based technologies in your sector.
  • Consider marketing your skills as a freelancer to take advantage of an expanding gig economy.
  • If you are considering a career change, look to sectors likely to permanently expand even after the COVID 19 crisis.
  • Work on developing critical communication skills.
  • Seek new responsibilities to demonstrate that you are a flexible and adaptive employee.

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