It’s just been about six months since the pandemic started to impact our world. The initial shock of that day, in particular, when the NBA halted the season and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive are long behind us.
Many of us have adapted to the ‘new normal’ of working from home, schooling from home, interviewing from home. It’s not easy, but most of us are in a different space than we were in the spring.
Google’s announcement today that they will not return to the office for another year indicates the ‘new normal’ will be with us for a long time.
Even if we discover a vaccine, it will be a long time before it’s mass produced and enough people obtain it to make a significant change on our lifestyle. With Google’s nearly unlimited resources in data analytics and modeling that’s been applied to this decision, it’s noteworthy.
It may be time to start to think seriously about the impacts on your career.
The benefits of being in person in an office are sometimes intangible but are very real.
When you are in the office, people actually see you working–your boss isn’t wondering if you are mowing the lawn, or otherwise checked out when you should be working.
In the conference room, our ability to present more effectively by being able to ‘read the room’ in ways you simply cannot do on a Zoom call.
Your physical presentation to the world, how you present yourself does very often matter.
In the office, your ability to grab a couple minutes with the CEO as you find yourselves together at the espresso machine in the break room is invaluable.
Your likeability (or not) is far easier to pick up on in person.
There’s a huge benefit, if you can do it safely, in meeting up for a coffee in person in a social distanced way. We just helped a CEO land a performance marketing exec–they were lucky enough to spend a couple of hours in a seaside park in Santa Monica before closing the deal.
If you are offered the chance to return to the office, if it is at all feasible, do it. Do it even for a couple of hours if you feel comfortable doing so. This is not the time to be lazy about the commute, lazy about dressing up or uncomfortable about the weight you’ve gained and the condition of your hair.
If you are a manager, think about some way to bring people together safely in person.
Bring your own chairs and beverages, obviously forego the handshake, sit in a park and just chat. Many of us are doing this with family, I’m seeing a lot of pictures on social media of distanced birthday parties, etc.
It’s very difficult to get promoted, to be identified as a high potential employee, to shine above the peer group, without that in person connection.
Getting promoted to manager and never meeting your team in person? Joining a company as a new grad and never going into the office? Far from ideal.
Not interested in advancement and just happy you have a job? Same applies. Downsizing will continue, it’s far easier to ax someone you don’t like, have work ethic questions about or don’t have a relationship with.
Yes, everyone is in the same boat but that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a hit on your career.
Hopefully it’s a short one but indications, if Google is right, is that it’s 18 to 24 months as we see it now. Our advice is to internalize that and figure out how you can beat the ‘new normal’.