|CATEGORY:||Work Life Balance|
The ongoing COVID-19 has, once again, emphasized the importance of remote working or working from home. Others say it is telecommuting which is the use of the internet, VOIP software, Google docs, etc. Remote working is a blessing for workers and employers who are coping with the onslaught of a pandemic. If you’re working for an industry or organisation that will offer possibilities of work from home, you can learn from this list. Pros Savings for the employers This is the most visible benefit of allowing employees to work from home. You‘ll save hundreds to thousands of money and time without the need to pay office space rental (the highest expense), electricity, water and internet bill. Your employees are all working remotely and so they are the ones who will be shouldering the monthly utilities. Such savings could be diverted to research and development, marketing and buying new equipment. Savings for the employees Employees can save from working remotely. If you’re working at the office, you’ll reap the following benefits: Zero transportation costs - From bed to bed. Savings from expensive lunch and dining at restaurants and fast food. At home, you can just cook an inexpensive meal with cheap ingredients. Freedom from stress Remote working brings the following benefits: Less stress because you don’t need to wake up early, wait at the bus stop, stand with commuting crowds and worry about getting late. Less stress because you don’t need to walk far away to reach the office. Less stress because you don’t have the pressure of being watched. Less stress because you don’t have to deal with rush hours (7 am, 5 pm). Less stress because you don’t have to deal with office distractions. Mutual benefits for both parties One of the best blessings of working from home is that it benefits the employees and employers. Mutual benefits result in more morale, better performance (team and management) products and services. Flexible schedule Working from home equals flexible scheds. Even if your company requires you to work a fixed schedule and day off, you'll find that you can work beyond the working hours. When you work at an office or in-house, it’s more difficult to work overtime as you’ll always worry about going home late and being left behind by public transports. Avoid office distractions and stressors The office is a centre point of unpredictable distractions such as chatting co-worker, customers calling an admin, demanding boss, blaring sirens outdoors, fire drills, and accidents. Reduced to zero risks of contracting COVID-19 One of the reasons why companies allowed their staff to work from home is the ongoing COVID-19. It seems that the pandemic will stay longer - maybe 2 years or more. The need for social distancing and avoidance of staying longer in space to avoid inhaling virus makes working remotely an absolute necessity. Work from home negates the risks of COVID-19 associated with public transports, dining at restaurants and handling money. Reduced boredom Setting at the office chair in front of a desktop or laptop computer and dealing with restroom restrictions can raise the boredom level. Just imagine if this routine never changes for an entire year. At home, you’ll have flexible work and ease your nature’s calling when the time comes. Customised working environment At the office, you don’t have the freedom to choose the space, the type of chair and table, window location, wall colour and decors. At your home, you’re the king and you always have the decision. You can turn a wall into a mural of cats or polka dots, decorate your mini-office with cactus and potted plants. Reduced risks of inhaling pollutants Since you’re indoors, the risk of you inhaling smoke from cars, factories, trucks and jeepneys is zero. Remember that these vehicle fumes contain myriads of chemicals that could impair your lungs in the long run. Think about the following chemicals: Benzene (a carcinogen) Carbon monoxide Formaldehyde Nitrogen dioxide Nitrous oxide Sulphur dioxide Polycyclic hydrocarbons Suspended particles (particles with a size less than 10 microns) More time with loved ones Remote working allows more time with loved ones - parents, siblings, spouse, kids and grandparents. Another is if you have a baby that is best cared by a biological parent. You can’t just entrust your baby to anyone. If you’re working at home, you have more time to safeguard your baby and attend to his or her needs. If you’re married and both working at home or even one of you is working remotely, it’s still manageable to care for your child. Cons Working at home isn’t devoid of cons. It’s still not perfect. At mercy of power and internet outages A glaring con of working from home is that you’re at the mercy of power and internet outages. These two essentials are beyond your control except your capacity to pay (which is, of course, you can) as long as you have a livelihood. If you live in the Philippines, a country always visited by storms, you have to brace yourself for fallen power lines and cables that can always cut off electricity and the internet. Depending on the technical team of both utilities, you’ll have to wait for repairs which can take a day or a week). Willpower can be affected Willpower is the ability to delay gratification, impulses and short-term temptations that can be watching a movie marathon or video streaming over studying to become better at web development. Finishing a study is for the long-term goal - for better job prospects and career. In remote working, you’ll face myriads of temptations to procrastinate such as message notifications from your Facebook, an urge to watch your favourite channel or surf the internet. All these things may result in delayed submissions and/or loss of concentration. Your question may wait for an answer Even though the other side is online, you don’t know if they are immediately available unless you and the other side are video calling. This happens if the first or second party is chatting with someone, being too busy to reply or having a very slow computer. Less socialisation The most obvious downside is less social interaction. Not all remote jobs involve video calling or constant real-time connection. Some only connect a few minutes or an hour and after that, they just send and expect the deliverables through project management tools. At the office, everyone can party, celebrate birthdays and attend after-work happy hours. When you work from home, you can be alone or be with your relative.
Underemployment is a labour condition where an employee doesn’t use his or her full capacity and skills. If you’ve been working as a cook but an IT graduate, then you’re underemployed. Economists, sociologists, HR personnel, employers and job seekers use the term to describe job market trends or career development. Here we discuss underemployment effects and what to do with it. Two types of Underemployment The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development views underemployment in two types. Invisible underemployment This refers to employees who work full-time jobs but not using their educational background or skills. For example, Mr John Smith, who is an electrical engineering graduate, works as a salesman Miss Jane, who is an agricultural science graduate, works as a medical representative. Mr. Niel is working as a fast food service crew despite being an accounting graduate. Visible underemployment This refers to employees who work part-time or only for a few hours to make ends meet. What makes underemployment undesirable It makes your resume look bad If you stumble upon meticulous hiring personnel or stringent hiring processes you might not pass the hiring process. They will look into your educational background and skills set and ask why you’re now flipping burgers instead of designing websites which should be your main job. The hiring manager might question your ability to excel should he/she decides to hire you. It can lead you to the misdirected path Doing jobs of various positions or consecutive job titles after a year or two can lead you to diverted careers. You’ll have difficulty deciding if you want to pursue plan A or plan B. At this point, you end up in a comfort zone or underemployed or face a difficulty of mastering a specific skill or skill set. You might not work at your full capacity It’s likely that you aren’t enthusiastic to work or excel because what you’re doing isn’t in your interest. The result...you perform at a fair or average performance. Some life stories show that people who are passionate or like what they are doing tend to succeed in their fields. Waste of time and resources Since you’re not using your full capacity, skills and education, you may end up not using your years of education - an investment of years of studying and training. In the end, after years of working then deciding to return to continue your original profession, you have difficulty applying to your intended career. You might not get your dream job Everyone goes through a life stage as a kid who dreams to be a pilot, teacher, accountant, doctor, nurse, etc. The very purpose of studying at college or university is to prepare you for fruitful employment and avoid ending up living for the rest of your life with diplomas that only function as a filler for your resume. While no one can predict 100% what lies ahead of time, planning to avoid underemployed is one way to avoid losing your dream job. When you can’t use your 4 or 5-year degree to earn a decent salary, you might take a detour. Causes of underemployment Supply and demand The law of supply and demand functions in the labor market as well. When the supply of labor exceeds the employer demands, unemployment and underemployment are inevitable. When the volume of graduates of a certain course or degree is too high and graduates are vying for the same position, many will tend to accept any job just to pay the bills rather than endure months or a year of unemployment. The price you must pay for being underemployed is you risk forgetting your skills and years of education. Technological changes or trends Back to the 1990s, many occupations flourished in telecommunications, entertainment, energy and transportation. Science fiction writers predict that robots, tablets and holograms will be common in the early decades of the new millennium. Few people thought advancements in mobile communication will replace telephone operators in the early 2000s. Forums, websites, blogs and videos described that someday a robot could replace a human worker. You may have seen cash deposit ATMs already replacing the task of a human bank teller. Economic cycle Businesses experience economic cycles. Visualised in waves - sometimes at the crest and sometimes at a trough. A prolonged and continuing downward economy brought by pandemic, natural disasters and complex financial crisis can lead to recession. Hiring managers will settle for a part-time worker to save on rents, utilities and wages. How to survive an underemployment Seek a freelance or part-time work While working underemployed, capitalise on your side skills whether it’s designing social media posts, writing blogs and translating between languages. You can use video streaming sites (e.g. Youtube, Vimeo) to upload your video blogs about cooking tips and ghost hunting. You can make homemade products such as dioramas, desserts, snacks, and keychains. Apply to companies seeking part-time workers who are either needed to work from home or in-house. Boost your monthly savings Save every 15th or 30th of the month. Trim your expenses by reducing wants and keeping needs. If you can find cost-savings for your needs, that’s better. Here are the places you can save your money: Stable bank savings account Cooperative Stocks and bonds Volunteer in your free time Surely, you won’t be working 24/7. So you’ll have free time on weekends or within weekdays. You can use that to volunteer for part-time jobs related in your chosen profession. Let’s say, you’re a medical technologist, find a clinic or hospital with volunteer vacancies. Leverage social media, email and search engine for research. By volunteering, you’re gaining experience and skills which you can use to back up your resume when the time comes you apply for your dream job. Study and train in your free time Study on online schools (MOOCS or Massive Online Open Course Sites) which can be free or paid. On your day-off, you can retrain at schools related to your profession and course. Review through videos, ebooks, and physical books and pass certifications. In this way, even if you’re underemployed you keep your skills current.
Future-proofing is the way of making sure that your skills are still marketable in the upcoming decades. You’ll never know what exact type of in-demand skills, business processes, industry trends, gadgets will lay before your eyes in the next year, decade and century. Certain articles in the internet project some skills that could be rendered obsolete or partially replaced by artificial intelligence. Here we laid some tips on how to future proof your career and job. Go tech-savvy Being tech-savvy means learning the current tech tools used in your job or business. For example, if you’re a teacher, it can be beneficial for you to learn skype, power-point, spreadsheet and word-processing tools as they can help you produce lesson plans efficiently. Likewise, as an accountant, learn QuickBooks and the recent software used in accounting by firms so that in your next job application, you’ll be ready for interviews, tests and your first job. Numerous programs are available to give solutions to every industry such as in food & beverage, warehousing, logistics, healthcare, web development, and software development. Commit to life-long learning Many people mistakenly believe that learning stops at graduation at college or university and therefore you should be content with your degree. But following that advice will only lead you to stagnant knowledge and skills. What you know yesterday could be irrelevant today. Some of the schools and colleges are using an outdated curriculum, teaching materials and textbooks and so if you graduated from those schools, you could graduate unprepared for the real world. And if you stay in the company, having the same skills and being ignorant of the latest tools of your trade, you could end up with the same salary and position. When the time comes that you apply for your next job, you’re unable to get the job that requires more tech skills in your industry. For example, if you’re an office worker, study and train on cloud-based word processors such as Google docs and Office 365. Build a professional network Connect and maintain communication to people within and outside of your job. A professional network could be your working colleagues, customers, relatives, former-classmates, alumni-members and teachers. You can rely on them as job leads, resource persons, advisors and trainers. To build a network you could: Join industry associations Keep and update contacts Build integrity Invest in creative skills that lead to future-proof jobs Invest your time and money in creative skills that are irreplaceable by artificial intelligence and robots. The more skill requires human interaction and creativity, the more it’s near impossible to be replaced by automation. Here are examples: Skills and jobs irreplaceable by AI Skills Writing Planning Database administration Empathizing Negotiating Analysing computer systems Legal advising Counselling Social advising Graphic designing Jobs Lawyer Writer Computer engineer Social worker HR generalist Jobs easy to be replaced by AI Fruit picker Assembly worker Burger flipper Janitorial worker Food preparation worker Learn two or more skills The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” is false according to some experts and internet resources. The correct saying is “jack of all trades master of some”. The derogatory cliche “jack of all trades, master of none” will go to the trash bin as learning isn’t a zero-sum game. When you learn at the maximum rate for just one skill, you’re losing an opportunity for a multi-disciplinary approach. What if “you” as an accountant, after 1 decade, a company suddenly replaced you for an AI? You can learn skills related to your present ones. For example, if you’re a graphic artist, learn web development coding and wireframing tools that can equip you when you apply for a position needing those know-hows. You can also learn an extra skill such as statistics if you’re working as a copywriter. To work things for you as a polymath, pick 2 to 3 of different skills. In other words, you can master at least one and be the jack of all trades. The pervasive idiom used as a quote is often used as an insult. The good news is it has been shattered as a fallacy. So go ahead and be a generalist rather than a specialist who can be in the danger of being relegated to back corner. In software development, a generalist has more fluid skills than specialists. Read, read, read Develop the habits of a good reader. Good reading refers to improved reading comprehension and fast reading. The internet is a great blessing and it offers you a vast resource that may take thousands of years to read. Reading improves your knowledge of trends, new technologies, economics, innovations and tools of the trade. Reading materials you can digest includes blogs, articles, graphs or statistics, and videos. Save money Padding your wallet and bank accounts can help you save money for productive activities such as learning online courses and enrolling on physical school. If you have enough savings, you’re safe from emergencies such as sudden unemployment and natural disasters. Having a financial fallback can help you adapt quickly through changing trends, economy and market. Another reason to build fat finance is you can start your own business. If you’re a successful business owner, you no longer have to work for someone and sell your time and effort. You’re the employer.
Late bloomers refer to people who succeeded later in their lives. Usually, we attribute success to those who started early right after graduation. But studies, surveys and real-life examples showed that you can succeed even later in life. Whether you’re a college drop-out or a failure in your career, you can still bloom and enjoy the fruits of your rewards. Don’t give in to what others say and start being successful even in your middle or later age. Here we laid our tips. Is being a late bloomer a bad thing? There’s nothing wrong being a late bloomer as everyone has different life stages, path, strategies, education and opportunities. What causes others to become late bloomers Lack of employment opportunities Career changes Economic hardship in childhood days Economic misfortunes Unpreparedness in choosing courses in college and university How to set yourself for success as a late bloomer. 1. Stop comparing It’s easy to see other people’s lives and compare yourself to them. Once you open Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, you’ll feel a feeling of guilt which may make you blame yourself or others. You also rob an opportunity to celebrate what you accomplished. You may feel jealousy when you’re around others who did amazing things. Comparing yourself to others is problematic because you’re pitting yourself against others and ignoring the fact that every human is unique. We have different upbringings, fortunes, environment, physical health, mental health and other variables in life that we may have no control over with. According to Melissa Ducan, a psychotherapist, “You can’t compare success as much as you can’t compare the suffering”. While comparing yourself to others is a negative thing (as all or most careers and life advice prove that), the feeling of being a complete jerk when you hear about it has its roots in our brain. Feeling a little jealousy doesn’t mean you’re a complete grunting monster - it’s just you’re a human. It means it’s a natural human emotion. According to LiveScience, comparing yourself to others is normal. The website article described the brain region called area 9 that is responsible for the “self-other emergence”. The said area covers the frontal lobe and plays a role in gauging or comparing a person’s performance against others. A study published in the Neuron journal on July 20, 2016 said people automatically compare their own experiences and performance with other persons. For more info, visit this detailed scientific article. How to stop comparing yourself to others Limit social media exposure - Whether you like it or not, it’s difficult to get out the cycle of comparison when you stumble upon others' photos. Be happy with your accomplishments - Surely, you have accomplishments whether they are small or not. 2. Be ready for your Plan B When you feel stuck in your current career or job and you want to quit in the future (next month or year), you should have a clear idea of plan B. Such plan B can be anything that will serve as your new direction or path towards your dream, goal, ideal job or career. You must have a clear understanding of the risks and investments that you may meet in undertaking the Plan B that may include: Taking a new college course Switching to a new job Training for a new skill Opening a new business Getting a new opportunity to immigrate into an affluent country 3. Acknowledge that you can use your transferable skills Even if you venture into a total career change such as from a graphic designer to a phlebotomist, you can still use skills and experiences you gained from your previous jobs. Transferable skills consist of soft and hard skills. Transferable soft skills Empathy Leadership Writing Oral communication Negotiation Listening Transferrable hard skills Using Microsoft office suite - MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint Google docs 4. Study another course Get another degree or start another course. By enrolling in a university or college, you can get a fresh start and let you get an opportunity. If you have been underemployed for years, or a graduate of 2 years of college, getting another degree improves your chances of higher pay, promotion and upskilling. 3 ways of studying later in life Studying a short-term course (offline or online) Studying a new 4-year course or degree Studying a master or doctorate degree. 5. Get inspired by these people who found their successes later in life Ramil Comendador (Filipino Janitor turned lawyer) - Aged 35 at the time of news - May 5, 2017, that reported his success in the bar exam. Soichiro Honda (Japanese businessman and mechanic) - At age 88, he and his company made it to the hall of fame. Taikichiro Mori (Japanese real estate tycoon) - At age 55, he started as a real estate developer. Susan Boyle (British singer) - She made it to the show “British got talent” at age 47. Jessie Savilla (Filipino lawyer) - At age 60, he became a lawyer. Harry Bernstein (British-born American Writer) - At his age 96, he published his book - The Invisible: A Love Story That Broke Barriers.
Unemployment is a serious situation and must be addressed with empathy. Most unemployed people are in their situation not because they choose to laze around but because of bankruptcy, changes in the economy, and career changes. It’s admirable that you’re there for your friend, relative or someone else but there are things (negativity and sarcasm) that aren’t OK. You got a lot of free time This implies that your friend is just loitering around and not doing anything. What if he/she’s actively looking for a job, revising resume and attending interviews? Unemployment isn't one big holiday when you’re waiting for blessings. It can be boring and unsettling. Just take any offer Advising your friend to take any job is not only insensitive but ignores his/her experience and skills background. Saying to your friend to not be selective in his/her search for a job and just take any role or salary offer means a complete lack of understanding of the person’s situation and the living wage standards. What if that offer is below the minimum wage or a peanut salary that’s inadequate to cover daily living expenses, will you take it? Not all offers are equal even in the same position because it depends on the company size, position, geographical location and skills. This advice would only apply if you’re in an emergency such as when you’re in other countries looking for immediate jobs just to get a visa, avoid deportation or visa penalties and if the applicant has few qualifications. You’re lucky, you aren’t dealing with stress in our work Stress depends on the type of work but it can be equally or more stressful if you’re worrying where to get money to pay water, electricity and rental bills. It’s more worrying in an unemployed situation because you have to deal with the unemployment social stigma such as being weak-willed and lazy. Maybe you’re not doing well because it takes you so long to find a job Everyone experienced unique circumstances in job hunting. Different situations involve applying in different company types, facing job competition, coping with costs of job hunting, and using current skills. Saying such in a diatribe form can demean a person. The main reason that can prolong a job search is when a person deliberately prolongs job hunting because of laziness and unwillingness. Factors that prolong job hunting include the following: – Supply and demand for the skills needed for the specific job – The geographical location of the company and the job seeker – Mismatched skills and experiences to the requirements of the position – Readiness - polished resume, company research, and grooming My friend is in this situation and he/she did this … maybe you should try this While it can be a good advice, your friend’s situation is likely different from his/hers. Saying this to a friend may backfire as it may discourage your unemployed friend. Your more successful friend’s situation is different because of the location, educational level, skills set and network. How long have you been job searching? This question may imply a sarcastic meaning depending on the context and situation. If your friend is new in the job search, this question needs a simple answer. But if it’s sarcastic then it can mean judging the person’s ability to find a job. The Bottomline A situation that warrants blaming an unemployed person is if he or she doesn’t help themselves or willingly refuse to find a job despite having the capacity, resources and skill to find a job. Helping your unemployed friend or someone looking for a job needs lending a serious helping hand with a touch of empathy. Understand that unemployment is temporary and life is like a wheel. Sooner or later, it always comes around to where you started again (a quote by Stephen King).