Since the emergence of the coronavirus altered our world economy, our working lives have seen more change than constants.
There are those working tirelessly in essential services, on the front line. Self-isolation has seen many others work from home. So many of us have lost income, or are balancing careers with childcare.
Angela Briggs, director of UMENCO and career coach in the fashion industry expertise, knows the varied challenges this new world order can bring. And she has the career advice to match.
In this unprecedented time, Briggs and UMENCO have founded Project You, which seeks to provide career advice and coaching in exchange for a donation of your choosing. Proceeds will go to Giant Steps, to help raise awareness on Autism - a cause close to Briggs' heart. It's exactly the kind of silver lining we can get behind.
Here, Briggs shares her knowledge on staying motivated in the moment, preparing for the future, and what we're not talking about when it comes to working in the time of coronavirus.
What is the most significant change to our working lives you’ve seen come about in the past few weeks?
It’s obviously been a huge time of uncertainty, reassessment and rapid recalibration of 'new normal' practices. The financial pressures have been challenging for people. I think this aspect is getting lost in some of the messaging we’re seeing, particularly on social media. It’s important that we focus on identifying our strengths, use this time to reflect, reset and redefine our values to ensure we’re living our lives aligned to our purpose.
How is the coronavirus crisis affecting the fashion industry in particular?
The coronavirus has been affecting the fashion industry for quite some time now, as China and Italy are significant locations for production, supply chains have been adversely affected for months. My thoughts are with everyone who are facing business uncertainty and whilst a fairly overused statement at the moment, the importance of supporting each other is more vital than ever. I truly believe brands that have a strong sense of identity, sustainable practices and strong cultures will come of this period with renewed energy and opportunity.
The term 'shop local' has been trending and whilst we can all contribute though our everyday purchases, this global issue, the shop locally idea is only a small part of the solution. There is a considerable influence of how bigger businesses and brands react and behave.
The result of having the courage to change and the ability to deliver sustainable best practices and solutions; will bring about positive outcomes and perspectives that will set the fashion industry and the people who contribute to it up for future generations.
What’s the career advice you’re most frequently asked for at the moment?
A lot of practical questions are being asked. Effective CV writing, how to navigate LinkedIn, questions about the job market, around working visas and how to up skill for the future. People want to know how to prepare for when businesses are rehiring and what this timeline potentially looks like. Clients are looking for how to support their teams and streamline work place practices and organizational structures to best move forward and work through the significant financial challenges COVID-19 has raised.
People can get stuck on a type of role, brand or industry they want to work for even if it’s not the right fit. We are recommending self-exploration and self-awareness to define your skills, identifying your strengths or potential areas of opportunity, redefining your values and an understanding of your personality type. I’m recommending to clients they redo their Myer-Briggs personality test for defining your professional strengths and values.
We are saying to reflect, reset and rebuild, each week have a call to action plan and decide what your mindset is going to be. Having resilience and agility is important right now. We understand that people have to pay their bills but take this opportunity to design your life in a way that feels sustainable and authentic to you.
(In the context of this crisis) what is your biggest piece of advice?
Knowing the balance between when to be still and reflect, being kind to yourself and when to build that resilience through a proactive approach. There is momentum in ‘doing’ and staying connected to your community is so important to feel in touch. Exchange ideas, look at what you can learn and develop. Be less competitive and more supportive of each other.
Any silver linings?
It’s an opportunity for us to show our character and strength. I also see it as a time of experiment on work from home practices, for demonstration on productivity and efficiency under autonomous flexible work arrangements.
Accountability around parenting, workplace equality starts in the home and I think there will be situations with both parents being at home with children who are needing to reassess the division of parenting and work responsibilities. There needs to be fairness for opportunity to prosper and even today, there often isn’t this balance within households.
On a personal note, I’m enjoying the time for some stillness, the space for a renewed sense of purpose and redirection.
How can we be supporting each other?
Simple acts of kindness. Staying connected and listening to each other. Providing your friends and community the space to be heard. We’re all experiencing similar challenges yet the nuances of processing these challenges can present differently, so it’s important to be mindful and kind to each other. It costs nothing to be kind.