You’ve probably got a list of your own. Part of my change coping strategy is to “do.” Stay busy and check things off a list—I’ve got seven bags of yard debris and dirty fingernails from last weekend to prove it. Doing gives me a sense of control—normalcy during chaos. Routine can be comforting and calming during upheaval. I’ve relied on both during the past few weeks.
We humans like predictable outcomes. We want things to get “back to normal” as quickly as possible. Which is why, when clients ask me about the job market, I share this: Everyone will be working hard to get things back on track as quickly as possible. It’s just what we do. Will it be the same as before? Of course not, but we don’t yet know what it will be.
We’re being called on to hang out a little longer without many answers, in the Neutral Zone, filled with more questions than answers—which is damn frustrating because, most of the time, answers take time. When we’re feeling anxious, the last thing we want to do is wait for answers.
I’ve found that I can trick myself when I want answers to questions where the answers just aren’t ready: I force myself to stay curious. For example, I’m spending time exploring things I’m interested in. I’m going down rabbit holes as I explore the latest innovations with applicant tracking systems (ATS). I’m researching LinkedIn features I don’t use that much, like hashtags. Here are a few questions that I’m have popped up in my Neutral Zone that I’m curious about:
- How will working from home permanently change the outdated construct of “work week” or even “working hours,” especially in industries that hadn’t previously embraced a work-from-home setup?
- How will we recognize and leverage the rise of personal leadership, given the failure of institutional leadership in times of crisis? What impact will personal leadership have on work and even career choice?
- How will this experience influence the career choices or decisions of people moving forward? For example, what jobs will be deemed “safe bets”? And what skill gaps will appear?
- Will companies that put people over profit and value their talent end up having a competitive advantage in the long run?
- How many people will discover the only thing keeping them sane at their jobs are their coworkers? And without that in-person daily interaction, can they survive long-term?
- What disruptions will emerge? Uber and Airbnb came about during the 2008–2009 recession, so we can expect some new, interesting models to show up. I’m especially curious about ways to address the social isolation many of us feel when we work from home, especially if this becomes the new norm.
- How can we sustain the value given to frontline workers (not just healthcare, but grocery store employees, truckers, warehouse workers, delivery people, etc.)?
What are you pondering or thinking about? Notice anything about the Neutral Zone you’d like to share?
Stay healthy and six feet away (ha, couldn’t resist!)