By: Laura Hunter-Owner of Vivid Resources
It was 2008, I was 4 years into my User Experience (UX) recruitment niche and the United States was in a serious recession. We were preparing to usher in a new president that had barely been a Jr. Senator and no one really knew what to expect. Suffice it to say, The Great Depression of 2007-2009 could have been for many, and was for some- scary, depressing and potentially bad for job growth and hiring.
When Life Gives You Lemons
Except – for me, as a UX Recruiter, it wasn’t quite that way. What I found was that digital tech companies, in their infinite wisdom, found a way around the challenge of no new full-time hiring budgets. They started hiring contractors instead as a way to keep production up. It made for an excellent solution in what we all hoped would be a temporary problem. Mind you, this isn’t completely new. 1999 found the same solution for Y2K (dating myself but I was around then too) as a focused need for a targeted reason that quickly ended by Jan 1, 2000. My mainframes Programmers had an economic swansong as they retired. By June 2009, based on the actions of the newly elected former Jr. Senator and his well advised/advisory staff, we started on the road back to fiscal sanity and full-time hires.
Temporary Solutions Can Change the Norm
But full-time hiring didn’t happen right away. Companies were pretty comfortable enjoying the safety net of bringing on freelancers and consultants who did great work and when the project was finished, or budgets were cut, they could discharge at any time with no need to involve HR, benefits or pay unemployment. And it worked pretty well. Folks that may have otherwise not been earning, became consultants and were able to feed their families, pay their bills and stay afloat. Some found they liked the freedom of that lifestyle and some found that moving back into full time was preferable. Either way, we were striking a new chord in getting the digital job done.
Technologist Are at The Forefront of Work From Home
Fast forward, it’s March 2020 and a fast moving, and for some, deadly virus is going global. We are all told to stay home and get our jobs done there, and another new normal is being presented. For many employers, this is uncharted territory. But not for Digital Technologists. In fact, it’s another day at the (home) office for many. Microsoft, Oracle and a slew of other tech giants have long understood the high levels of productivity afforded by working from home, the savings to the bottom line and the ability to attract top talent. As well, the increased quality of life it affords those who embrace it with discipline and focus.
Is Working From Home to Become the New Normal
I think it’s safe to say we are in the midst of an exceptional social and business experiment whose origin is crafted to save lives and keep us all from making each other sick. And while this imperative is happening, we are feeling our way through a grander experience. The experience of being treated as adults that can show up at our desks without punching a clock and do the work we are paid to do. Do it responsibly, do it well, and not have to do it on the heels of a bumper to bumper commute or a packed commuter train. Perhaps it’s showing each other we are grown adults who are able to take full responsibility for ourselves, our work and get the job done.
What This Means for Hiring
So, we can all work from home but does that mean that we stay put and don’t apply for that awesome new job we’ve been eyeing up? Not in the new age of working from home it doesn’t. In fact, quite the opposite. Access to online interviews and meeting hiring managers is easier than ever. Setting up calls and video conferences with hiring teams are becoming the new normal thanks to tools like Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams. Since everyone will be at home some of these exceptional tools offer blurring backgrounds of unmatched furniture and our ever present “so happy that you’re home and I can hop on your lap” pets from our screens while we discuss our skills, the job itself, team dynamics and exciting upcoming projects. All in the comfort and safety of home. The day will come when we walk in the door of our new employer – maybe full time- maybe working from home a couple days a week- maybe never and staying completely remote. But till that day, we can conduct our job search and interview as well as accept that new dream role without putting on the super suit, spending the money to get there or having to take time off from our current position to do so. All the while staying healthy, safe and helping to flatten the curve.