The Future is Hybrid

Image via The New Indian Express

Many working parents do attest that being able to work remotely or working from home was very labor-saving. They are able to dedicate time to work as well as be present for any schooling issues that their children are dealing with, on top of not having to deal with the stress of morning traffic. If they had a choice, they would prefer not to return to the office or in other words, the pre-pandemic Monday to Friday, 9-5 world.

However while there are many who praised working remotely/from home, there are many instances where employees miss/crave human interaction. There are some individuals who find that going into the office gets them out of their home. We all know that the thought of solely working from home full time would trigger mental health challenges as well.

Many employees are looking to a hybrid schedule — as it would be a nice middle ground for both companies and employees, especially where technology is available and accessible.

However, there are certain roles that make it impossible to work from home/remotely in the long term. Business domains, meeting clients, sales & marketing, human resources responsibilities, to name a few. Interaction can be hard if the client/candidate refuses to show their face on the Zoom camera, making it hard to make decisions without knowing their facial expressions.
Of course, you may be thinking it is possible through FaceTime but not everyone has an Apple device. Sales people don’t need to be in the office and HR has been working remotely for the past year.
Great, but have you ever thought about doing something and doing something well are two different things? Because it is very challenging to work with new grades in remote setup. Building trust and bonding is missing with the rest especially with new hires.

While it is completely understandable why so many folks desire to continue working remotely due to the convenience — it is functional, but far from optimal not only for the businesses but for all folks. Individuals who will continue to work remotely will find limited opportunities to grow in the firms as being out of sight, out of mind will have a new meaning. The interactions that happen on Zoom will never replace those that happen in a conference room or in the office, we all know that. There is concern for working parents where they will have a lot of time to tend to their kids and taking coffee breaks/bathroom breaks, but at difficult times like these, companies still seek ways to cut out those that they consider unproductive.

What we are seeing is a reflex reaction to the situation imposed upon us. There will always be some folks who perform better with greater flexibility, as well as those who need the structured environment. Just as those who enjoy the comfort of working in pajamas and those who feel more professional and productive in business casual. However, the reality is twofold. We have not yet seen the leveling out, which is a great argument for the hybrid environment. That being said, since adaption and adoption haven’t leveled out, there will be an ebb and flow. This may depend on developing new habits for productivity or even dependent upon what type of project/assignment is being worked on.

Employees are curious on how effective the hybrid model will be, since there will be those who get more face-to-face interactions with leadership may receive a natural competitive advantage for promotions. This raises a question — Will this create a divide? Where folks willing to go into the office, would volunteer to go in 5 days a week as a career development approach and the folks who prefers not to, will shift to companies with their entire workforce being remote?

The skills that we all have in our more traditional ways of working aren’t the same as the skills we need in a more flexible working environment. While many employers favored the positive impact location that independent work has had, they fear not being able to measure output the same (such as effective communication/engagement with internal staff).

A hybrid future is most likely, why? It can provide an excellent alternative for those who need flexibility, but also enjoy coming into the office. Of course many miss the human interaction, but not many miss the 1-2 hours of traffic, budgeting for gas, car repairs, etc. The next crucial step toward building a hybrid work environment will need to be led by leadership, where they empower their workers to have full autonomy over their own schedule. This is how companies will help more workers enjoy the flexibility that they deserve while providing them the support they need to make a successful transition.

Many individuals couldn’t work their ideal roles because employers didn’t offer flexibility. Moving forward, a blended approach is a great way to show flexibility — which empowers employees as there is a shared sense of trust and responsibility when employers allow employees to find a greater balance between work and life.
As work life will change, it opens up our freedom of choice. Some days/weeks, it will be better for our mental and emotional health to either be in the office or to work remotely. This is the best option to keep everyone happy, but also be ready to pivot again if necessary.

There are also pitfalls for hybrid future, meaning there will be less office space needed. As they are consolidating and closing locations in major cities worldwide, commercial real estate investors are showing desperation in demand, bellowing and pleading that there will be a return to the old ways.

What would be interesting, is to see the effect and hopeful reduction in the burnout that could happen when saying you do not have to take a full vacation (working remotely for a few days and not burning out on your Paid Time Off). Time will definitely tell, for those hoping to see the work/life balance become healthier with such flexibility.

How The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Affect Millennial and Generation Z Job Seekers And What They Should Do

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Research has shown that the Millennial and Generation Z’s who have just graduated at the end of 2019, during 2020, or in the next coming years, will be facing high unemployment rates which can affect the U.S. economy in the long-run.

Image via Bloomberg

According to Bloomberg, economists say the longer that young people are forced to delay their careers, the worse their prospects will be in the future to hold a job, accumulate wealth, or even get married or start a family.

Long periods of unemployment, or working part-time gigs or temporarily in jobs outside their desired fields, can jeopardize young professionals’ future salary increases and opportunities for them to build key relationships.

For college students and recent graduates, choosing a major based on availability of jobs is a recipe for an unsatisfying life. Instead, search for something you truly enjoy, something you find exciting, and the job will come, in due time.

Image via Shutterstock

Some of you are thinking that graduating in this global health and economic crisis may have delayed your career growth, however it is definitely not a career death sentence. Take as much time as you need to chase your dreams! Everyone you know may be interested in finance, STEM, healthcare, etc. but follow your own roadmap because these paths are certainly not for everybody. It may take you a month, 6 months or 1 year after graduation to find a job amid the pandemic. Many companies have resumed their hiring and have pivoted new ways in doing so. In addition, a lot of companies are hiring workers to work from home as well, which can be a new way of reducing unemployment.

Advice and Tips For Recent Graduates

  • You should definitely continue to explore your interests, values and motivators if you did not spend as much time in the exploration process before your graduation. Through networking and pivoting, chances are you may find roles that weren’t even on your radar and; potential opportunities — that are even better than the ones that you have initially considered.
  • You want to actively connect on LinkedIn with everyone from your college community — students, classmates, recent graduates, professors, mentors, connections from your school internships, career advisors, and career centers! The best chance of success is typically from a referral.
    • Take full advantage of your college career center. Even though you have graduated, you are still part of their alumni network!
    • Take full advantage of employment centers/workforce providers that are located in your area!
      • The services that your college career center and workforce providers (non-profit based) offer are completely FREE in terms of resume critique, mock interviews, career advisement, mentorship, networking help, job placement assistance and referrals, and many more.
  • You want to actively connect on LinkedIn with your outside connections — former colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors! Set up virtual appointments on Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, Slack, and virtual happy hour, etc. You want to inform everyone that you are currently job searching and let them know what kinds of jobs you are looking for. They may know of someone who is hiring for what you are looking for and they may end up passing along a lead.
  • Do something different and take free courses that will get you out of your comfort zone. Whatever it is that you are doing, traveling, eating, cooking, working with animals/pets, people, your true passion unfolds.
    • If you can’t discover anything you like, you should consider volunteering although nobody likes to work for zero profit. At a time like this, putting your gifts, talents and skills to help a nonprofit organization really helps many folks figure out what their purposes are.
      • This will lead folks to reflect on their passions and realizing how this experience ignites them, as this is a way of connecting them to their future career paths. Not many think of this, however volunteer experience actually offers you the opportunity to lead, grow and evolve as an individual — whether it is impacting the lives of young people, helping the less fortunate or patients/elderly, will allow you to continue to pave your way forward.
      • Also, volunteer work opens many doors for you! There are individuals that I know who have volunteered throughout their whole life, which has led them into their current leadership roles.
  • Keep in mind that there are many companies that have IT, finance, project management, HR, marketing, public relations, etc. Just because the sector/industry for that position isn’t what you are ideally looking for, this is a good time to still apply to that potential employer. The point is to not overlook them!

We all know that 2020 is undoubtedly a financial and emotional struggle for many college graduates. Many students are struggling to find employment and has also lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This has increased financial stress for students who are paying bills; financially helping their parents/family; paying for their tuition (which resulted in 68% returning to their home, 22% staying off campus, 7% staying on campus, 3% went elsewhere), etc.

According to Student Loan Hero:

However, do not be afraid to ask for help. If you feel that you are struggling with food and housing insecurity, paying for online classes, paying your rent, there are many resources to help you. You may want to look into Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Unemployment Insurance and Emergency Financial Aid.

Additional Resources for NYC and U.S. Residents

  • If you live in the NYC area, there are free meals where meals can be picked up at all Meal Hubs 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Friday. Meal Hubs will operate for children, families and adults.
  • If you live in the NYC area and you, or a friend or family member has a small business that has been impacted by COVID-19, they may want to seek assistance and guidance from NYC Small Business Services. You may apply for emergency loans, like the Paycheck Protection Program as well as requesting financing assistance.

The Pros and Cons of Permanently Working Remotely For Corporate/Tech Industries

Image via RescueTime

In this rapidly changing job market today, it seems that salaries are gravitating downwards due to the flexibility of allowing employees to work from home in the corporate world and tech industry. And with COVID-19 layoffs, this global pandemic has put downward pressure on pay.

Employees from software giants such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Twitter — were given the option to work freely from home forever, even when their offices open back up.

With this new Work From Home/Remote standard, employers have the freedom to hire from any geographic location that they desire to. This will heavily affect areas with high costs of living because they will not account for higher salaries. Basically, compensation will change drastically depending on where you live in the country as they will do regionally-based salaries. We can see that this is already impacting the tech industry, which will generate an approach to more supply because it opens up the competition significantly. In the long run, this method of compensation will drive down employee salaries. This will also result in mass migration because people will no longer be tied down to living where they work. If you think about it, working remotely versus going into an office will not only impact the salary, but also promotions and growth.

For example, companies in the Silicon Valley are lowering the salaries of employees based on where they relocate.

“Even a move within the state of California will result in lower pay: workers who decamp for San Diego or Los Angeles will take an 8% pay cut”, Bloomberg reports.

Business Insider

Many tech firms are cutting labor costs for employees who move to less expensive areas. This isn’t fair for other employees who get paid less for carrying the same job title and performing the same amount of work. This is where the cost of living brings out the factors for these companies. The factors of the economic principles of supply and demand come into play.

Pro #1. The employers that are incentivizing this “WFH permanently” option, are widening their talent pool within their area – which can be great for folks who are highly talented. So therefore, the ability for an employer to hire at a lower cost due to the larger talent pool might compress the wage for that particular position, but if it allows the candidate to apply and potentially earn that position at a salary that is higher than what’s available in their current geographic labor market, then their respective salary has increased. Let’s not forget that WFH is not a mandatory thing for everyone. This is optional as there is still people who still prefers to go to back to their workplace and cubicles.

Pro #2. WFH offers more flexibility. WFH if you want, come in if you want. As long as you get the work done, your company will benefit from happier employees, wider talent net, smaller buildings and so on. For some folks, they may have a dedicated office space in their home or studio where it makes them feel much more productive as it has given them greater freedom to have a healthier lifestyle with less stress, and to be able to take care of their children.

Pro #3. WFH also improves ecology and prevents the contamination of the spread that’s still going around. Yes, it is nice to have an opportunity to work from home as this reduces carbon footprint! This reduces time in the traffic as there will be less cars on the road, and you won’t have to feel dreadful about waking up early. Not having to commute or paying for a $20 lunch meal daily, saves you a lot. Working from home is a great idea for both employees and employers who can save on their biggest expense, which is real estate and payroll.

Pro #4. This is a big step to reduce unemployment. Think about certain populations who have been out of the workforce for so long. For example, there are individuals who have disabilities or chronic health issues that limit their work options. And individuals who had to take care of their children because they do not have anyone else to look after them. But they are ready to enter the working world again and are still in search of employment. If they have the skills to do so, all they need is to set up their dedicated work space and equipment at home. With an unemployment rate of 8.4%, there are far more potential workers who are available to bring their valuable assets to the right employer.

However, it is not possible to fully live without the face-to-face interactions. As the world and labor trends continue to change and adapt, this brings us to the cons.

Con #1. If employers are extending offers to anyone in the country versus the local area, the demand for talent may decrease. This is a huge disadvantage for job seekers that lack digital skills. Fewer and fewer opportunities are available to those lacking a baseline of technology access as well. Studies also show that for many employers, working from home from time to time will likely continue as the new normal once the pandemic subsides.

Con #2. This is something that nobody has ever thought about, but employers would need to consider the time zone difference if conference calls/team meetings/client calls are needed. This can result in burnouts since there is no micromanagement. So the key variable here is engagement, where employees should feel supported and valued even behind the screen. Leaders would need to be willing to invest in software and hardware to make it work and build realistic protocols and accountability measures to ensure the work is being done. And this would require change in the design of workflow, teams and functions, as well as clear communication of expectations.

Con #3. In the long run, this can negatively affect some of the younger generations who are beginning their careers as some are visual learners. If they do not get to interact with their team or colleagues, this can limit their development since they won’t have the opportunities to learn from others on a daily basis. We need the face-to-face interactions to stimulate our communication with both internal teams and with our clients.

Con #4. Many employees (support staff, office admin staff, security staff, transport staff, etc.) who can’t work from home will lose their employment. This goes for jobs in the hardest hit sectors (hospitality/retail) — they are becoming obsolete, such as administrative assistants, receptionists, sales associates, etc. And, what will happen to the office space once that is all gone?

Con #5. Concerns have also been raised about work/life balance — where working from home only works if your environment is adapted. In other words, not all folks live in a place that is suitable for working from home. For instance, not everyone will have access to good WiFi, office supplies, ink, technology, etc. How many companies are willing to cover for that? And if they do cover that, how are they going to pay for all of their employees? Stipends?

Con #6. Mental health. An employee’s health matters too to ensuring a productive workforce! If employees do not make time for their wellness, they will be forced to make time for their illness. It’s true. This is a hot topic that has been discussed since the beginning of the lock down because many employees prefer office interactions and collaborations. We are humans. We develop the positive energy from being around people and the relationships/interactions are definitely not the same when working from home. In many cases, in-person discussions make a bigger difference and building solid relationships is more effective when done face-to-face.

Con #7. As you draw the big picture in your head about living situations when permanently working from home, some individuals will have the idea of selling their current property just to move back to be with their families because they will save more costs on rent, utilities, electricity, gas, etc. It is a nice recourse that many of these employers are offering, however things may/will always change. What if the employer reverts their decision and decides to make their employees come in to the office permanently? Or for a specific project/collaboration? This could be a logistical disorder for some individuals who are affected by their living situations. Not many folks are willing to pay an arm and a leg to live in areas that they cannot afford.

All in all, existing gaps between the haves and have not’s may be further heightened and it’s not hard to imagine folks being passed up for positions just because they simply don’t have the infrastructure to work from home and prefer working in the office instead. This pandemic is going to have far reaching impacts to many of our cities. But also, in a positive way in that here is an opportunity to close the wage gap between have and have not’s.