How To Best Manage Pauses In Working Amid a Crisis

Uncertainty is overwhelming; financial stress, loneliness, boredom and the bad news continuum are tough things to navigate, even for the most resilient among us

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By Ben Thompson


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As the world's unemployment rate steadily inclines, millions of people out of work are finding themselves at a loss of what to do next, and understandably so. No one could have predicted the havoc of COVID-19, and we have a long road to recovery yet, both as individuals and as a global population.

Enforced business closures have led to mass redundancies, as well as temporary stand-downs or contract negotiations, such as reduced hours or pay. Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that 2.7 million Australians are either unemployed or working reduced hours since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early March. As a result, these people have been forced to adjust to a new way of life, on top of self-isolation and social distancing measures.

Uncertainty is overwhelming; financial stress, loneliness, boredom, and the bad news continuum are tough things to navigate, even for the most resilient among us.

There is no one-size-fits-all method to manage a job loss or pause in working. Every person will cope differently depending on their support network, personal responsibilities, financial state, and mental health. But there are several things you can test and trial to keep yourself motivated and well during this crisis.

Here are five tips to best manage a job loss or pause in working.

Learn a new skill

When you're out of work, it can be easy to fall into the habit of using your time unwisely. Due to self-isolation measures, we're spending more time indoors than ever, making it easy to waste hours binging Netflix or scrolling through the endless abyss of social media—this isn't beneficial to our physical or mental wellbeing.

As an alternative, use this downtime to teach yourself a new skill. Online resources such as YouTube and TikTok host video tutorials on an endless array of creative topics, while platforms such as LinkedIn Learning offer courses focused on business and technological skills.

Teaching yourself a skill will not only give your days structure and focus, but your new expertise might prove valuable upon your return to work.

COVID-19 has catapulted the modern workforce into the future, with digitization taking many businesses by storm. As the world enters recovery mode, employers will be seeking different talents from their workforce.

The focus will shift to soft skills like creativity, resilience, and problem solving, as well as digital skills such as design and development, social media management, coding, and digital security. It's likely that there will be entirely new services, products, and jobs that will arise during and after the crisis, meaning there's never been a better time to upskill. Not only will it give you a competitive edge in the world of work, future-proofing your skillset will keep your brain active and engaged during isolation.

Focus on the long-term

Without work to do, the days can seem to drag-on. With no clear end in sight to the coronavirus crisis, we can quickly become absorbed in the short-term negative impacts and risk losing sight of ourselves on the other side.

That's why it's so important to look to the future by setting long-term goals and making plans to get excited about. Focus on the bigger picture—what's one small thing you can do every day to build your way up to achieving a goal that you previously didn't have time for?

If you've always dreamt of pivoting your career into a new industry, now is the time to take action. Create a long-term career trajectory plan, including businesses you would love to work for one day. Spend time mapping out how to achieve your goals by researching others who have found success in your chosen industry.

Take some time to refine your resume to ensure you stay ready for potential job opportunities, and remain active on professional networking sites like LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with job-openings, industry trends, and news.

Connect with loved ones

Global crises have a way of putting our priorities into perspective. With the COVID-19 pandemic, things like health, community support, and gratitude for frontline workers have been at the forefront of importance.

We're all missing face-to-face contact with our loved ones, but self-isolation does not have to mean social isolation. In fact, self-isolation should mean we make more of an effort to reach out to our communities, as tough times call for heightened care and empathy.

Conferencing apps such as Zoom, Houseparty, or Skype allow you to connect virtually with your friends and family. Be sure to use video, as facial expressions are easier to read than trying to interpret the tone of voice. Lean on your loved ones, and offer them the same support.

Get moving

Physical health plays a huge role in our general wellbeing as endorphins are natural mood boosters. Aim to get outside and do something active every day, even if it's just for 15 minutes. If you need some inspiration, there are plenty of free exercise resources available online to kickstart your routine.

Check-in with yourself

During challenging times, it's so important to prioritize self-care. After all, there's a reason why we're told to apply our oxygen masks first because we can't help others unless we help ourselves.

Do what makes you feel good, whatever that may be. A lot of people find mindfulness to be a useful practice for managing stress, which is why Headspace is offering free guided meditations throughout the COVID-19 crisis, alongside other meditation apps.

Be kind to yourself first, then extend that same care to others.

Ben Thompson

Co-founder and CEO of Employment Hero


Ben went to school and university in Armidale, New South Wales, where, he graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and Law Degree.

After being admitted as a solicitor, Ben spent several years working in banking and finance industry in Sydney. He moved to London at the peak of the dot com boom and got to realise his true passion, combining business and technology to create innovative new companies. Ben was privileged to be involved in helping several well-known startups with their Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

Ben returned to Australia in 2002 to start an employment law firm beside his father’s HR consultancy business. Over the past 14 years, Ben’s business has grown into an international group of companies that share a common goal, “To permanently improve the way employment is managed by making it easier and more rewarding.” These companies include Employment Innovations, Power2Motivate, Global Reward Solutions, Keypay and Employment Hero.
Ben has an adventurous spirit and has backpacked around much of Asia, Europe and South America. He has climbed Mont Blanc, several peaks in the Himalayas and even mountain biked down a volcano in Ecuador. His latest pursuit is racing Lasers at Manly Yacht Club.

A self-confessed geek, Ben has boundless curiosity, enthusiasm and ambition. He thrives on creating innovative solutions, industry firsts and disruptive offerings that redefine markets.

Ben is keen to support the next generation and supports True Blue Dreaming and Opportunity International. He also enjoys mentoring up and coming entrepreneurs.

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