The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented and unparalleled changes to the business landscape. With nationwide lockdowns and measures for social distancing in place, most of the workforce made a move to “digital” and is operating from remote locations.
The usage of online video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, has skyrocketed over the past year. However, is this format of working here to stay?
As countries slowly start to open up and the pandemic is coming under control, what will be the “new normal” of work for organizations worldwide? How can students in India start preparing to get employed in this new normal? Let’s find out.
The New Normal of Business
A new global research report by Lenovo of 20,262 workers worldwide, titled “Technology and the Evolving World of Work,” has revealed, “74% of survey respondents from India agree they will continue to work from home more than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.” (CRN, 2021).
And a few companies, too, agree. Social networking giant Facebook has more than 48,000 employees working in 70 offices worldwide. The company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in an interview, said, “I think it’s possible that over the next five to 10 years – maybe, closer to 10 than five – we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently.” (Newton, 2021).
On the flip side, companies like Goldman Sachs want their workers to make a “return to the workplace” by mid-2021. The company’s Chief Operating Officer John Waldron and the Chief Financial Officer Stephen Scherr, noted, “While each community is at a different stage of managing through the pandemic, we continue to be encouraged by the rollout of vaccines in a number of jurisdictions and the health and safety protocols we have put in place across Goldman Sachs campuses to protect our people.”
“We know from experience that our culture of collaboration, innovation, and apprenticeship thrives when our people come together, and we look forward to having more of our colleagues back in the office so that they can experience that once again on a regular basis.” (Franck and Son, 2021).
So, how can students in India, and all across the globe, make themselves “market-ready” in the new normal? What are the best practices they can adopt to work effectively in the hybrid (both online and on-premise) setup?
Pandemic and Placements: 4 Steps students can take to get employed
- Increase your digital footprint
Social media offers a vast sea of opportunities to develop employability. Many reputed organizations are leveraging the platform to find fresh talent.
As important as it is to develop skills that will make you an asset in your field, what’s equally essential is to always remain up to speed with what’s going on in your chosen area of interest. Therefore,
- Research and learn about the sector you want to work for. What are the trends? What opportunities are available now, in the next year, and outlook for the coming five years?
- In addition to a traditional CV, develop a digital one that demonstrates your skills and knowledge effectively. While LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and personal websites are the most common platforms to showcase your skills, you can stand out from the crowd by using apps like Pinterest and Instagram to develop more creative and visually appealing portfolios.
- Start a blog. Make videos. Do anything that makes a meaningful contribution to your field and brings out your “Never-Say-Die,” “Make-It-Happen (MIH)” attitude in front of potential employers. Students who put forth innovative ideas that can be commercialized will lay their hands on the best opportunities.
- Network. Network. Network. Engage in intelligent conversations with the people working in your field. A word directly from the “horse’s mouth” of what’s happening in the industry can help you manifest the best opportunities.
- Level up your tech skills
In the post-COVID world, as companies accelerate digital transformation, there will be an undeniable need for IT innovation.
The survey by Lenovo also revealed, “84% of Indian respondents think they could do their job better if they had better technology skills.” (CRN, 2021).
Not only jobs but the way they are done is rapidly changing. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, virtual and augmented reality, and predictive analytics are no longer buzzwords. Instead, organizations are deploying such technologies in real-time to build resilient and future-proof workplaces.
As such, irrespective of the field you plan to work for, make yourself comfortable with new tools and technology. Never miss an opportunity to use technology to your advantage.
Students who can help digital businesses thrive with skills, such as coding and digital marketing, will be on the “to-hire” list.
- Be flexible and learn to adapt
One thing is sure – workplaces are continuously evolving. Your ability to adapt and be flexible to changes in the professional world can take you places.
You should be open to acquiring new skills and adding a diversity of experiences to your kitty. Typical salaried jobs are not the only mode to progress your career; instead, you can explore gigs as an independent freelancer/consultant.
Students who can learn, unlearn, and relearn based on the current market demand will never run out of opportunities to earn and grow.
- Make learning a life-long habit
We cannot return to how things were before the pandemic. Forward is the only way to go. And to stay current and relevant, it is crucial to learn new skills.
However, learning is something that should not be limited to a specific time period. In 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted that in the next five years, over one-third or 35% of the skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.” (Gray, 2021).
Come 2021, and here we are, proving that prediction right! Going by the pace of change, it’s likely that skills that are currently in demand will be redundant in the next few years.
Therefore, you must commit to learning as a life-long practice. There are endless free and open courses available online to learn new skills. For students, the pandemic is an opportunity in disguise to refine and nurture these skills, ingrain learning into their daily routine, and open themselves up to an endless world of possibilities.
Be patient – the good times will come soon!
Yes, the future of business is uncertain. Millions have lost their jobs, and companies are treading cautiously while hiring new talents.
Even if you don’t find opportunities in your dream job right now, don’t give up hope. In fact, individuals with high emotional intelligence (EQ), or the ability to control their feelings and not be hassled by life’s problems, will be coveted by all kinds of organizations.
Just relax, go with the flow, follow the tips religiously, and you will never have to search for jobs. Instead, the best jobs will come knocking on your doors!
Author : Christo Joseph, FRSA (PhD)
Research Scholar, Lancaster University
Director Strategy and Planning, Garden City University.
CRN, I., 2021. 74 percent Indians prefer to work from home post COVID-19: Report. [online] Crn.in. Available at: https://www.crn.in/work-from-anywhere/74-percent-indians-prefer-to-work-from-home-post-covid-19-report/#:~:text=Seven%20in%20ten%20employees%20surveyed,fund%20their%20own%20tech%20upgrades. [Accessed 11 May 2021].
Franck, T. and Son, H., 2021. Goldman Sachs CEO is summoning workers back to the office by June 14. [online] CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/04/goldman-sachs-ceo-is-summoning-workers-back-to-the-office-by-june-14.html [Accessed 11 May 2021].
Gray, A., 2021. The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution [Accessed 11 May 2021].
Newton, C., 2021. Facebook says it will permanently shift tens of thousands of jobs to remote work. [online] The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/facebook/2020/5/21/21265699/facebook-remote-work-shift-workforce-permanent-covid-19-mark-zuckerberg-interview [Accessed 11 May 2021].