The coronavirus pandemic has brought a great deal of upheaval to the work place. For many employees, their regular job now entails the use of remote work environments and the use of new skill sets they have never used before.

In the past, well-defined jobs and job locations were central to the way people thought of work. The coronavirus pandemic has challenged these engrained patterns.  On the positive side, this gives business owners a unique opportunity to reimagine jobs at their companies by assigning employees to new responsibilities that help them meet the needs of their organization.   

Here are three ways companies have changed to take existing talents and skills, and move them to new areas that need them. This new reality provides a great opportunity for Calgary’s business owners to continue to adopt in these uncertain times and to ensure future success.

Design portable gig economy jobs throughout your organization

With COVID-19 playing havoc with employee demand, it is important for businesses to take workers out of temporarily idled areas, and to reassign them to areas where demand for workers is far steadier, and more critical

While employees are usually rigidly bound to their job descriptions, during this crisis, many companies have been forced to create their own internal “gig” economy.  A gig economy is based on a more flexible “job” that adapts to the demands of the organization.  It allows the right talent to be matched to evolving business requirements in real time.  Consider breaking job positions down into job skills, and then matching the skills to people with different talents. This way when employees find themselves without much to do at any given time, you are able to quickly and efficiently find them new things to do in other parts of the organization.

When organizations use such internal gig marketplaces, they are able to quickly apply employees to areas of temporary need, such as when employees call in sick, or when projects in different departments unexpectedly need new hands for upcoming deadlines.

As the economy re-opens, many Calgary business owners will be forced into hiring freezes.  This means they could split jobs that might otherwise have gone to new hires, into multiple part-time experiences for existing or returning employees. Resolving jobs into tasks can also make it possible for employers to determine what tasks can be handled by remote employees. They are able to take responsibilities across different jobs that require similar types of skills, and bundle them into new jobs. This way, they are able to accomplish jobs with fewer hires and allow some employees to continue to work remotely if it best suits them.

Speed up automation

With certain kinds of work, automation can potentially improve reliability and safety, and more efficiently meet sudden demand spikes. Automation doesn’t need to be a choice that does away with jobs. Instead, it can be a capability that helps organizations deal with crises.

During the coronavirus lockdown, the economy has seen rapid digitization by all types and sizes of businesses.  This has occurred in order to distribute their products and services outside a physical location.  This has allowed employees to monitor and operate different systems remotely.

It’s unlikely this pace of automation will cease to exist as the economy re-opens.  This could mean a call for new skillsets or retraining of staff to better manage new processes and new technology.  Some furloughed staff are seeing the writing on the wall and taking this time to hone their skills or learn new ones to make them more valuable when this is over.  Companies can look at ways to support and encourage employees to focus on these new areas to help them keep momentum and grow their bottom line.

Share employees across industries

Business owners need to ask themselves how they can expand the ecosystem of talent that they presently have, in order to help make their companies more resilient. The development of cross-industry talent exchanges is an innovative response seen in different parts of the economy. It involves taking employees from industries that have been rendered non-operational, and moving them to companies in industries where employees are in short supply because of added demand. For instance, at the moment restaurant workers are now filling temporary jobs for grocery stores or customer service roles. Being able to reassign workers in this way could help unemployment rates going forward and also help those unemployed build new skills and networks.

The coronavirus pandemic is a challenging time for businesses, but it has also proven how creative all of us can be. Companies have successfully re-imagined jobs to allow new and innovative takes on what employment means, and how to get work done. In the end, these creative new approaches can help create resilience and efficiency to help our economy bounce back.