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Upskilling Post Covid: What changes are you keeping?

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Jo French shares her thoughts and experiences on working from home and upskilling post Covid as society slowly returns to offices. 

Our business is unique in that we change our procedures often. We develop our procedures in response to our clients feedback and input. We hire new staff pretty regularly as we grow. And we have to learn new tasks that help our own positions as those requirements evolve. I would think that should be true of any business. They aim to grow and they aim to adapt.

But the changes we all went through last year with Covid were massive. Personally I became a tradie for my company for a few months, then took on new roles. We reverted to something resembling normal around September, and by Christmas were operating at our previous levels.

For our company, being couriers supporting businesses that had to remain open, work never stopped. Luckily. We all know essential services had to remain operational. But what about everyone else?

Working from home became the thing to do. It was safe, it guaranteed your business could stay afloat, and employees would not struggle. What happened to those that then had to learn to Zoom for meetings, and control their tendencies to procrastinate? Everyone back in the offices now had to go back to face to face meetings. Travel time to appointments. And bosses peering over your shoulder to stop all that procrastinating. Hopefully it didn’t take too long to get back into the habits of work.

But we know we can do this! We are resilient. We are fighters. If we are told things are going to be a bit tougher, we knuckle down. We know we can overcome anything.

Did you learn new tasks during lockdown? Did you pick up a new hobby while under isolation? From what I could hear online while everyone else was forced to remain at home, so many people picked up new skills. Linkedin Learning became a valuable resource, for those looking to reskill for new employment opportunities, or for anyone wanting to fill in the boredom.

As everything went online, the companies that already had online down pat excelled. They ended up with massive numbers of people training, learning and growing. It had such a positive effect on everyone that undertook training. They could come out of isolation knowing they were a better person than they were going into it.

Our communication skills are certainly better. I, for one, had to learn how to hold my head higher during online meetings. Video is not kind to older women! And making sure there were adequate, quiet spaces in your house for calling became a family affair. I placed signs on doors and told my kids they couldn’t enter until I came out. (The first video call may have included two of my three kids.) Now, I only had a handful of video calls, meetings, or even guest speaker roles. For those that had to do this multiple times per day, they bring back to the office an ability to multitask and schedule they may not have had previously.

Image courtesy of Scott Walsh 

I have no doubt that we all came back to work upskilled. With the unemployment rate soaring, these skills will help. It has become necessary to add to the number or skills on your resume. Your CV has to now include things the potential employer didn’t even know they wanted.

There was also lots of talk online about companies that did not return to full time office contact. We were so jealous! People would get to spend time with their families, avoid traffic, and wake up that little later to start their day. Unilever is trialling a four day working week in New Zealand. Microsoft’s trial in Japan last August of a four day week was very successful. And with CEO’s and GM’s seeing how much can still be accomplished by employees working remotely, this may be the push to change what our working week looks like.

Most of the population may have returned to their offices, and quite a lot of them with more skills than before. But Covid left a lasting impression on everyone. From those that lost loved ones to the virus, to the people that had mental health concerns and didn’t cope that well with isolation. Every single person on the planet has been affected. And every single one of those people have come out of 2020 stronger than they entered into it.

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