Adapting to a new world of work

It’s been just 88 days since the first recorded death from Coronavirus, yet so much has changed in our world. 

Over the past month, we have seen our way of life completely altered, and in business, changes have had to be made that we thought almost unimaginable a few short weeks ago. It’s been a difficult time for almost every industry and recruitment is no exception.

It could be said that something like this was always going to happen, with a range of experts including Bill Gates predicting that this type of thing was inevitable. We successfully contained the outbreaks of Ebola and SARS but sadly this one has got away from us. 

The government-led shutdown or hibernation of much of the world’s economy and the business community is unprecedented, and whilst possibly overly delayed in certain areas has been an impressive exercise. It is tragic that small business has borne the brunt of this crisis since the SME sector contributes massively to GDP and employment e.g. Australia (57%), the UK (47%), the US (44%) and NZ (27%). This is why it is vital that each government does all it can via stimulus packages to protect small business and early initiatives in many cases have been encouraging.

The response by the general public has been largely impressive and aspects of this reaction are worthy of exploring. This crisis immediately challenged the very fundamentals of the traditional way we work - i.e. millions of commuters flocking daily into crowded CBD’s to fill corporate tower blocks. Yet in an instant people were technologically enabled to work from home and quickly had to adapt to a new approach. Interestingly the early signs are that many people have soon become accustomed to a different method and are starting to flourish in their new environment. I’ve even heard many question whether they need that big expensive office space in the heart of the CBD. Commercial realtors may become nervous!

So is this an insight into the future of work? Are we, in fact, seeing an acceleration of something that was going to happen in any event? At Talent we’ve been passionate for some time about understanding the changing nature of workforces, hence our investment in developing solutions and ideas to address this shift and the whole concept around Talent Engage. Also, as part of Virgin Unite’s B Team Australia, we are working with a range of high-profile leaders from corporate Australia to examine and prepare for the future landscape of work. Is what we’re seeing a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s way of working?

As Dr Sam Wessely, an NHS general practitioner in London said this week “We’re basically witnessing 10 years of change in one week. It used to be that 95 percent of patient contact was face-to-face: You go to see your doctor, as it has been for decades, centuries. But that has changed completely.”

Safety, Security, and the Human Spirit

The overwhelming priority in these times is, without doubt, to minimise the spread, treat the sick and avoid every fatality possible.

However, many are already faced with financial challenges or have serious doubts about their future security. So let me assure everyone associated with Talent, whether part of our amazing global workforce, one of our thousands of incredible contractors or one of our many loyal and valued clients, that we are extremely well equipped to deal with anything this crisis may throw at us. In fact, our strategy was developed with this type of situation in mind and we certainly have the financial depth and knowhow to endure. Furthermore, I’ve asked everyone in our company to offer support and comfort wherever possible to anyone within their professional community and network.

To those most effected I urge you to believe that the future will be bright and that we will come out of this almost as quickly as we went into it. To small business owners, I would like to say, hang in there and make sure you access the support packages your government may have available and lean on the kindness of landlords, financiers and suppliers. Do not overreact and cut everything – try and navigate through it. Remember it’s a temporary hibernation. We must all come through this together.

And to our competitors, I extend the hand of support and friendship. It’s important that our sector stays largely intact and doesn’t fracture so we’re always open to share thoughts and ideas. Let’s not descend into chaos as we have seen with certain industries already falling into dubious behaviour.

Which leads me to the human spirit. In times of crisis, our behaviour is a measure of us as individuals or as organisations and we are seeing many pass this test with flying colours. The various health services around the world are digging into their deepest reserves to do everything they possibly can. In fact, as I write this article from the heart of Manhattan, the local residents have just burst into their regular evening applause and cheers for health workers– something mirrored elsewhere around the world. The world is grateful to these incredible people.

We are seeing many other heart touching acts of kindness and compassion around the world so let’s keep displaying the very best of the human spirit and come out the other side not only as better people but perhaps with new ways of seeing the world.

Heartfelt best wishes to all!