The New Reality

I’m hearing this term thrown around a lot lately at my soon-to-be former place of employment — The New Reality. It comes up in discussions about how work is going to get done once I am gone. Don’t get me wrong I know full well that I’m not an irreplaceable pillar of the workforce here but I know that I do a lot of work that is still going to need to be done once I’m gone. The thinking is this will be handled by outsourcing (we’ll see) and by others simply doing more work than they already do. Thus The New Reality.

But it’s not just here. This term is getting tossed around a lot in the wider world as well.  And perhaps has been for some time and I just haven’t noticed it until now. Like the person who works here who discussed her daughter’s work situation. This is a young woman with undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, a very smart and educated individual, and she’s working as a barista as well as doing some performance and I think giving music lessons. No full-time job, but instead a patchwork of part-time jobs. This may be what is in store for me, unfortunately.

Another movement in The New Reality is people starting their own businesses, like the one reported on in this article from the Detroit Free Press. Because even if you do have a great job with a good company there is no guarantee that your job will be there a year or six months from now, or even tomorrow for that matter.

A bit from the article:

OK, so if you accept the reality that all companies today are scrambling to control head count via software, automation, outsourcing — anything to limit the number of full-time workers with benefits — where’s an example of people adapting to that reality?

Last week, I visited Grit Design, a Web design and digital branding outfit of 15 people, mostly 30-somethings, working since March in space carved out of the Elevator Building, an old warehouse along the Detroit riverfront east of the Renaissance Center.

Almost all of them previously had swell jobs at big agencies — Ogilvy, Razorfish, Young & Rubicam — working on big-brand accounts like Ford, Disney, Cadillac, Dollar General.

I was asked last night if I would ever try to open my own business, instead of looking for a job with a company. It made me think. I guess I’d never really considered it. Mainly because I have not a clue what kind of business I would start, which might just be a sign that it’s not a good option for me. It would certainly have to be something viable in today’s market. It’s no time to be starting a labor-of-love business.

I have a friend who, after getting laid off from his long-time job, tried to start a home-restoration business. I don’t think it went well. He burned through his saving and may even be in debt now. I don’t want to end up like that. And I know, I know, you have to take risks be willing to put yourself out there and all that jazz. But there’s a time for risk and a time to exercise caution, and right now, in this economy and job market, I think more caution is warranted. Frankly, I’m just trying to weather the storm without winding up in debt. So far I’ve been able to to that.

 

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