At 1.26pm on Thursday last, a-few-weeks threatening came to pass with an email I sent to our people: “We are now working solely online, as I outlined in the WhatsApp a few minutes ago…”, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
We are among the lucky ones in that a) our status as a training business enables an easy transition to operating wholly online; b) over the last five years, our share of online work has grown steadily; and c) we had contingency plans in place for what became a necessity after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Washington address.
Online work will help to fight the spread of coronavirus and hopefully all of the countless measures now being implemented will bear fruit.
Even before the spread of coronavirus, working online was set to be a key feature of our future working lives. Coronavirus is almost certain to accelerate the trend.
Forces propelling us towards working online include enhanced technology, a desire reduce our carbon footprints, a distaste for the inefficiency of travelling multiple hours to engage in short meetings, the rising cost of childcare and the opportunity it offers to talented people for whom location might otherwise be a barrier to progress in the workplace.
Making the change
As I said above, it’s relatively easy for us. How easy can you adopt it in your business or working life?
With decent broadband (I know, I know), a good headset, reasonable IT skills, an open mind and a willingness to learn, you’d be surprised how easy it can be.
Can house viewings be done online? Of course. Certainly the first viewing. You won’t buy before feeling and touching the place, but you might rule out places by online viewing.
Emergency response personnel with bodycams on their chests are already a phenomenon, meaning that a doctor can offer invaluable advice at, say, the scene of a crash even though she is 50 miles away in a hospital.
Are we able to hold meetings of our club online? Yes. Is it feasible to hold Chamber of Commerce meetings online? Yes.
There are endless technologies that make this possible. Can we hold meetings of our Chambers of Commerce where some people are physically in the room and some aren’t? Yes, we can, and it might just make a lot of sense for all concerned.
Make it personal
Is it impersonal? It can be: but you can make it personal too. You’re still interacting with a person. You still see their face. Ask them about their hobbies if that would be your style in a face-to-face meeting. You can still chat about family or mutual friends.
And it might be usefully anti-social too at times: sometimes it is just business, we don’t really need the forced bonhomie, so let’s get down to it without the small talk and the arguing over who will buy the coffee.
Working online can free up lots of time – as long as you’re disciplined – that you can use for social or leisure purposes that you genuinely enjoy.
It’s not the panacea for all our ills, but it offers up some hope during these difficult days. Today, I will engage online with a number of people who live or work between one and 70 miles from me. Without that option, today would be a virtual write-off.
Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.
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