THE U.S. HAS NEEDED A NIMBLER, MORE ADAPTIVE, WORKFORCE FOR YEARS. OUR CURRENT SITUATION IS A PERFECT REASON WHY.
Seeing the future is hard. Predicting the future of work, and the trends that will lead us there, even harder. Despite a couple miracle vaccines, the pandemic keeps the world gripped in its clutches, crushing the past and squeezing out the future. Not to make light of the world’s situation, but we have been bombarded with increasingly depressing headlines, and it can be helpful to look to tomorrow. Seeing trends, technologies, and industries evolve and adapt in a matter of months, or even weeks, has been quite amazing, and it can help us cope with these shitty times.
It’s undeniable that the economic fallout from the coronavirus has been immense and will take years to recover from. That being said, you don’t have to look very far to see how companies in every industry are finding new ways forward. If remote interaction was a trend two years ago, it has now become a sure thing. It has transformed the healthcare industry. Telehealth has never been more popular. The doubts that doctors can’t accurately access patients’ virtually pales in comparison to the truth that a virtual doctor’s appointment has a far lower rate of infection. Maybe more people will actually see the doctor now.
Yoga instructors and other fitness professionals have begun live-streaming their classes to people’s homes. Various spas are bringing their services online like one-on-one meditations, tarot card readings, and shamanic healing. Real estate agencies and museums have adopted 3D virtual tours and performing arts companies have uploaded their shows to the web.
Even in more information-based industries like tech and advertising, a zoom call can’t accomplish everything. This is why the case for virtual reality has again come into focus. When co-workers need to share or describe more complex ideas like new prototype designs or construction models, VR does a much better job than a traditional video call. Advances in non-communication-based technology have occurred as well, like hotels that now feature robot room cleaners. If there’s one thing you can rely on when massive change occurs, the first innovations will be in technology.
It isn’t only technology that’s kept up with our changing world. Business models and the way we serve customers have evolved pretty quickly. As more and more people spend their days at home, companies, especially those in the service industry, need to adapt. Many brands have adopted omni-channel shopping where they allow customers to browse and purchase online, but pick up or return in store. Places like Loews and Home Depot even offer assembly of an item purchased online by in-store technicians before in-person pickup. Suit maker Alton Lane offers virtual appointment with tailors. They mail you measuring tape and swatches so you can give the tailor proper measurements, then send you the finished product.
Many businesses have begun offering in home service including barbers, personal trainers, nail techs, teachers, and even massage therapists through apps like soothe. Hershey has pivoted their marketing and production to offer more of their baking-oriented chocolate, as home-baking has become America’s favorite hobby. When culture changes, business needs to change with it.
ADAPTING THE FREELANCE MINDSET TO BUSINESS
Freelancing has become quite a buzz word during this pandemic. Not that it wasn’t before, but COVID has advanced the adoption of freelancing even further into the main stream. The reason being, adaptability. Freelancing is all about flexibility and evolution; rolling with the punches of the world in order to stay relevant and successful as long as possible. It’s this type of mindset that have allowed smart business to succeed in these strange times. It’s that mindset that caused major automobile, aerospace, and plasticware manufacturers to convert their production lines for ventilators, face shields, plexiglass screens, and COVID-19 test kits. It prompted clothing companies to produce surgical masks and hospital gowns, and beverage companies to make hand sanitizer. It prompted employers and entrepreneurs to completely changed their business in order to accommodate our new indoor lifestyles. Suddenly, everyone and your mother is selling bicycles, dumbbells, beard trimmers, video game console repair services, and online tutoring.
Who is going to rise to the occasion and innovate for our changing times? Who is going to make the at home workout bike that can fit in a tiny apartment, or the mask you can play sports in, or the virtual trade program to fill our dire need for skilled laborers? It’s the business that thinks like a freelancer. It’s the businesses that look at the economic landscape around them and possesses the flexible mindset to respond in kind.
The fact we’ve been able to adapt like this in what? A few months (it feels like much longer), is a sign that we are capable of rapid change. It’s not a crazy thing to imagine doctors performing surgery with a machine while they stand in a separate room, or a car driving itself to a mechanic to get fixed by a machine controlled remotely by the mechanic (not to get too sci-fi on you). If we embrace the freelance mindset we can adapt to anything the world throws at us.