So Long to Summer 2021

It’s Labor Day evening and it’s time to get back to posting. I have had a busy summer. Out of the swamp and into a new home that works better for my current situation. Call it an upgrade, or call it a necessary evolution. I have more workable space now, and I like my new layout especially in an area where warm days are far and few. I haven’t escaped the mosquitoes or the snow, but I gained a basement and a large garage. For me – this is a nice upgrade. There were many bitterly cold windy days and nights where the old workshop was a bit frosty. It worked, but I needed an upgrade. Moving was a logistical challenge, but with a lot of effort eventually the objective was accomplished. Now it’s time to get settled in and move forward.

There seems to be a lot of noise about people quitting their jobs more so than in past years. Apparently this is contributed to the pandemic. Yes, I have seen a lot of job movement lately in the tech field, but it doesn’t seem to be that new a thing. The remote work transition as an option that could continue on even after our current “Covid (version – fill in the blank) situation improves or we just ignore the threat of illness – which may be what I am seeing more of lately. I’m a big fan of the work from home option, but it’s not for everyone or every situation. Leaving your job because you plan on doing something else, possibly better, or you are just sick of your current situation may make sense for some, but may not be a good option for others. It may be a wake up call for some employers who may soon realize they can’t recruit or retain productive talent.

The pandemic has been a major shock to the system. Some of the fall out has resulted in some workers reassessing their quality of life and whether or not they are appreciated and/or paid what they feel they should be. For those who worked from home because of the pandemic and figured out how to do it successfully who were then forced back into the office I can sympathize with their frustration. If you are required to be in an office just because…..”That’s the company policy“, then sure I can see some talented workers jumping ship to go work on their own or for a more “hip” organization. Some companies have a good reason for such a policy, so you get to decide if you can conform. People’s priorities have shifted. To some extent mine have too – a little. I have a new found appreciation for working undisturbed by unnecessary noise and interruptions that I don’t experience when I work alone in my shop. As far as collaboration is concerned – I have an Internet connection and a phone. I find it much easy to collaborate with “Zoom” or “Teams” than traveling for hours and only spending a fraction of the total time actually getting some work done. I know some people have no other choice but to deal with such a scenario. Some days I’d rather hang out with my dog and enjoy some hot fresh coffee that actually tastes good. The time I might have spent traveling I can use to get actual work done. There are some benefits to meeting with others at a designated location, but maybe the frequency for some of those trips can be reduced in order to concentrate on the most productive travel.

The companies that do adopt to the future should be OK, (I think) those who stubbornly refuse to support their workers may stumble and lose the top talent. Those who make the bold move to improve their work situation might be OK, and potentially could become even more productive when they find the situation that fits them rather than adapt to a worn out and disconnected set of standards which may no longer produce optimal results.

I would think that companies would prefer to pick talent from a larger bucket than limited by regional constraints. I would also caution the potential talent that you will also be competing with a much larger dynamic than just other workers who would normally be filtered out by location limitations. It works both ways – for some it can be better, for others worse, and I mean a lot worse.

If you have talent and confidence – no worries. If your legs get wobbly at the thought of walking away from your current situation, you should probably do some more thinking before doing anything that might otherwise be referred to as career ending. Whatever you do try to not burn any bridges and try to keep the most worthy of contacts. You can always ignore those you don’t consider a positive influence. Call blocking works wonders.

So if the pandemic continues to get worse and if anyone still cares about the benefits of social distancing I would spend some time reviewing my home office digs. A new chair, desk, or maybe a new laptop might not be a bad idea – and yes, maybe freshen up your resume…..just in case. If you already have gone back into the office or are about to – it may now look a little different. Plexiglas seems to be the new fashion statement for anyone interested in aerosol spray droplet dynamics. Regardless of who is and who isn’t vaccinated – you may never know. The first time someone near you sneezes or coughs you might pause and start thinking how nice it was to be somewhere else. Maybe you’re the one who does the sneezing. It’s just allergies anyways – right. Sure sure sure.

Some jobs and occupations do require on site reporting because there is no practical alternative. I get this, and I agree that for some situations you do what the job requires, and that is often physical presence. Sure AI may require no human presence at all but much of that is still in the early stages of mainstream business human to human interaction. I appreciate my time in the office, as well as my time in the field, but I’ve also learned to appreciate a lot of remote work. I see remote work as complimenting fast responses and enhancing multiple areas of support. The pandemic made me rethink my processes and procedures with one goal in sight – productivity.

The ability to quickly respond to multiple issues can also become a problem in that you may find yourself doing too much work and not taking enough time for a break or rest. My commute was originally a chance for me to unwind to and from a site – not always, but it did break the loop. Sometimes you need that.

Many businesses and workers may eventually discover a hybrid balance between remote work and on site work (in the office). Some businesses may find a nice financial incentive to reduce the amount of real estate they require to operate. Some face to face meetings may, and sometimes do take place in Cafes or coffee shops. I like that idea.

The Fall and early Winter usually bring the cold and Flu strains indoors. That could be interesting. I don’t know about you, but I’m in the market for a new comfortable shop chair. That’s similar to an office chair but substantially different. I’ll keep the chicken soup and coffee stocked. It’s the easiest and most practical contingency plan I know. I’ve got my radio tuned to some old style jazz and one light on over the bench in my shop. Coffee cup is full and Summer is over….basically.

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