The coronavirus crisis has caused major shocks across economies and governments worldwide. Businesses large and small are already feeling the impact. If your past couple of weeks have involved cancelled projects, tough conversations and impossible decisions, the next few are unlikely to offer any respite.
But for those in the knowledge economy, there’s some solace: Our work has truly never been as important as it is right now. And there’s never been more opportunity either.
A variety of companies have transitioned from traditional to distributed structures this month. They’re not just experimenting with remote working, but with smarter working too.
As jobs go remote and homes become classrooms, it’s abundantly clear that allowing people to manage their own time is essential. Getting things done isn’t about being chained to your desk 9 to 5; it’s about work fitting in flexibly with your life as a whole.
For knowledge workers, especially those of us who work for ourselves, this is nothing new. But as everyone else catches up with this way of thinking, our insights will undoubtedly be useful to workers and companies alike.
It’s up to us to help others make sense of and operate in this new world — which is why both knowledge and knowledge work are more valuable than ever.
The art of resilience
Everybody can feel the collective anxiety and uncertainty over the future right now. Not only over public health, but over society, culture, economics, and governance too. If there’s one thing we need to navigate this crisis successfully, it’s resilience.
The knowledge economy is made up of talented people with different lenses; unique ways of understanding the world. This makes it more resilient than other sectors, because its workers have the soft skills to rethink and adapt — to be resilient themselves.
In their roles, knowledge workers are constantly connecting ideas, and adjusting projects and strategies to align with new information, viewpoints and restrictions. In a crisis where everything is changing every day, those abilities are superpowers.
Build the future
So what should we do with our superpowers? How do we help other people make sense of the world? The specific answers depend on your profession, but in general, we each need to be ambitious and proactive in navigating this crisis. The best place to begin with that is on the individual level.
Think about whether you’re happy with your client list or employer and change things up if you’re not. With everybody sitting at home, make some new contacts — research who’s who and then introduce yourself. Design your workday based on your energy flows; try to measure your output, not your hours. Consider launching something new, solo or with friends.
We all feel a bit useless sitting at home. As knowledge workers, though, our work hasn’t stopped. Ideas are still the world’s most powerful currency (and perhaps the only one that will survive). And, remember, sometimes the smallest steps are the ones that lead us to meaningful opportunities.
At this moment in history, knowledge workers need to start building the post-crisis future. We can do that by putting our brains to big challenges, helping companies redesign how they operate and promoting fresh ideas based on our unusual perspectives. Time to get started.