How Covid has changed us and our workplace

Rebecca balancing her life

The year is 2022. The world (if you are reading this sometime in the future) has spent the last two years fighting a virus called COVID-19. Regardless of how you feel and what you believe… it has changed how we work… changed how we live… changed how we think. It has changed us all in one way or another.

COVID-19 has challenged us to find new ways of working and to think diffeYou're on mute memerently about work. When COVID-19 hit, unless you were an essential worker, you had to work from home. Zoom became a regular workplace tool. It was initially fun – phrases like ‘You’re on mute’ became popular memes.

Working-at-home attire, such as slippers, became a staple. However, ‘Zoom fatigue’, general lockdown fatigue and feelings of isolation also impacted on many. We are people. For some, it became clear that it is our support networks and our human connections that hold us together and were the things we missed most.

This pandemic gave us the opportunity to reassess how we work and what work means to us. Companies are looking at how best to manage employees as workplaces open up, while employees are assessing how they wish to divide their working hours. Pre-Covid it was a bonus or perk to work from home – it was something you had to ask for – now it is becoming the norm for at least some of the week to have the flexibility to work from home.

According to the AUT Wellbeing@Work study, a hybrid model (mix of working from home and the office) is best for employees. Author Professor Jarrod Haar says hybrid workers benefit from higher levels of trust from their managers and respond well to the independence and flexibility of hybrid working.

However another study by Jarrod also highlights important issues such as inequities in the workplace, and a high level of increased burnout in our young workers and students. If you’re starting to feel burned out, don’t normalise it. Instead, Jarrod suggests you ask yourself whether the job is worth hanging onto or whether it is time to take that next step that you have possibly been afraid to do and look for something new? Turn burn out into break out.

Look to new possibilitiesLaptop on lap on couch

While life feels like it may be settling back down, there are still many unknowns. How much have we learned through the last two years? What new jobs have been created because of the pandemic? What new possibilities are out there for you?

If you're reading this as a current student I want to encourage you to keep looking forward. Keep learning about yourself, research what industries are doing, attend our workshops and presentations. Keep developing the employability skills and qualities that employers are looking for. This will ensure you prepare yourself the best for the exciting future ahead.

If you're about to graduate, don't be afraid. This pandemic has changed the world of work as we know it. But it has also created many opportunities through challenging us to rethink our views on how we work and what work really means. How should a business run? How will your industry survive? How will you approach your career now if you're no longer bound by traditional job roles or a fixed pathway (unless that is what you choose).

Take this time to reflect. Choose what is important to you. This is your chance to do something different and perhaps more meaningful for yourself.

We have survived previous disruptions – wars, the Great Depression, the technological revolution, the Global Financial Crisis. Time and time again, we have adapted to a ‘new normal’. Make this yours.

Want help with your career decisionAUT E Lab 3 making?

The Employability and Career Services have specialists who can help you with your career decisions, or with employability support, including workshops on CV and cover letter writing, interview practice, networking and LinkedIn profiles.

To make an appointment or book into a workshop, please sign up through Elab Online
Not used Elab Online before? It is easy. Simply click 'current student' and add your AUT student user name and password. You'll find workshops and appointments under 'Events'.

Written by AUT Employability and Career specialist Rebecca Du who demonstrates her work life balance in the photo at the top of this blog.