Regardless of whether this would have been your company’s first Christmas party or the twentieth, you were probably putting plans in motion for a while now and hoping that COVID-19 would have been handled by the time the holidays arrived. However, seeing as how we are still in this situation where social distancing is recommended and many of us still work from home, your plans for the office party have probably changed. If you’ve decided not to cancel the cheer this year and opted for organizing a virtual party instead, you might be looking for some ideas and tips on how to make it a success even if you can’t all be in the same place. Keep on reading for some suggestions.
Socialize over cocktails
Even though you’re not all in the office or a place you’ve rented for the party, it doesn’t mean that you can’t set a time and date for the party and get fancy. Provide everyone with the platform you plan on using, whether it’s Zoom, Skype, or something else, and give them instructions on how to dress. You can either simply dress for a cocktail party or give the party a theme, such as wear your worst Christmas sweater. Seeing as how you’d be paying for drinks anyway, you should consider food and drink delivery to everyone’s home so that you can all have the same experience. When it comes to décor, allow the participants to do as they please, as it’s possible that some don’t celebrate Christmas or just don’t want to put up decorations. If you work in different time zones, it might not be time for cocktails everywhere so you can opt for coffee and snacks instead of drinks.
Play party games
Video calls also make it easy to play various party games. When planning the event, make sure to come up with these games in advance so that you know if there is anything that needs preparing beforehand. Luckily, there are many games that don’t require any preparation. For example, charades don’t require anything but a willingness to have fun. With a simple notepad and pen, you can also play Pictionary. Then, if your employees are a creative and talented bunch, you can organize a company talent show. Keep in mind that some workers are more introverted and might not want to take part in showing off their skills, so consider appointing them to be judges. Something else to take into consideration is giving out silly prizes to your team members – just make sure no one is overlooked.
Organize a Secret Santa exchange
If you were planning to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, you can still do that. You can find an organizer and generator online to help you get everything ready. When it comes to gifts, you should probably set a budget and rules as you don’t want some people to be disappointed by only getting a Christmas card and someone else getting a new laptop. Remember that you are also taking part in this and that you have to get a gift for one of your colleagues. If you get a female coworker you respect a lot, you should browse the internet for some Christmas gift ideas for her before you make a purchase. However, if you don’t know her all that well, a hamper full of sweet and savoury delights as well as a drink or two might be the solution you are looking for. Remind everyone to send their gifts on time so that you can all open them during your video call.
Make cookies together
Sometimes, a Christmas office party doesn’t have to be a party at all. If there are only a few of you in the company, you might be only looking for a way to spend some quality time together. One way to do that is by setting a time when you can all make cookies together. Maybe one of you is an expert at baking and is going to teach the rest how to make tasty treats for their families. Make sure you tell everyone which ingredients are necessary and what other equipment they might need. If you all agree on this, it’s essential that you are all relaxed as tension has no place at a Christmas party. In case someone can’t follow along, be patient and help them keep up. If baking is not your company’s forte, you can opt for other types of crafting projects, such as making your own decorations or gifts for other people.
While you can stick to the regular party setting and have everyone sip on cocktails from the comfort of their own home, you can also make the most of this new reality and come up with something new for your office holiday party. Who knows, maybe this new approach of baking together or playing games online turns into an annual thing.
The rise of the teacherpreneur
Disruption in the education market
Over the past few decades, education has been radically transformed. Today, there are hundreds of millions of people learning things outside of the traditional classroom… things like yoga, fitness, dance… music, drama, art… languages, programming, business skills… we could call this the “alternative education” market.
But traditional academia, too, is experiencing massive disruption: enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs has been declining since roughly 2012. More and more people are realizing that to learn something useful or to build a solid foundation for a career, they don’t have to pay the massive tuition that traditional “gatekeeper” institutions charge. All they need are some good teachers.
Covid19 and the associated lockdowns have only served to dramatically accelerate this transformation. All around the world, remote learning and remote employment became completely normalized during the pandemic. Even those (few) people who previously hadn’t used the internet much for anything beyond shopping are now very familiar and comfortable with Zoom.
It turns out that in the post-covid world, students actually prefer taking classes remotely. Online classes and e-learning are not only here to stay, but things are increasingly moving in that direction.
In 2021, the e-learning market surpassed $320 billion, and it’s projected to reach an astounding $1 trillion in 2028. The global online fitness market alone is predicted to increase at an annual growth rate of nearly 50%, from $11.4 billion in 2021 to $80 billion by 2026.
Teachers and instructors of all sorts make up the “passion economy“, which in turn is a subset of the so-called “creator economy” that includes millions of independent content creators. Creator economy startups which enable these content producers pulled in US$1.3 billion in capital investment in 2021, roughly three times more than in 2020.
These major changes imply that the outlook for schools, studios and institutions is bleak. With more and more people learning online, it’s no longer clear what role, if any, these brick and mortar businesses still have to play.
On the flip-side, the shift is good news for teachers, bringing massive opportunities to independent teachers and instructors. Because fundamentally, nothing has changed in the market: there are still hundreds of millions of people who want to learn or practice something with a teacher.
Startups in the passion economy
There are a number of tech companies that are gaining traction in the passion economy. Some are helping teacherpreneurs with marketing and finding new clients, as marketplaces for classes and courses. Some are helping instructors to manage their business and logistics with payment and admin solutions. And there are numerous products that facilitate new ways of monetizing the content that teachers produce. Below are just a few examples:
Tutoring marketplace: thousands of teachers in the United States are earning thousands of dollars each month teaching live, virtual lessons on Outschool, an online marketplace for live video lessons for children. These classes are taught primarily by former school instructors and stay-at-home parents.
Course creation: for alternative education subjects, Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific are three major SaaS platforms that enable educators to create and sell video courses and digital subscriptions. The top educator on Podia earns more than $100,000 a month.
Teacher admin solutions: for managing live classes (both in-person or online), there are already numerous platforms that have been in existence for many years — but they largely cater to schools or gyms that have complex requirements. This makes them prohibitively expensive and much too complicated for indie instructors. For example, MindBody Online is the most well-known class management platform for yoga studios and gyms — but it costs $300/month and requires a person to take a course to learn how to use it.
But some newer startups are focusing on the teacherpreneur opportunity. For example, an emerging player that’s exclusively designed for individual teachers is Ubindi. Billed as “simple software for teachers”, Ubindi satisfies the needs of educators who are not very tech-savvy, who don’t need complicated rocket-ship dashboards and who don’t want to pay for expensive bulky class management systems.
Other tools for teacherpreneurs: an interesting example of a platform that helps educators monetize their craft is Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials that they create themselves.
The dawn of a new age
Professor Klotz at Texas A&M University coined the phrase “The Great Resignation,” forecasting a large number of people who will be abandoning their employment after the covid pandemic, simply because they are no longer happy doing things they don’t enjoy and not being very paid well for it.
The passion economy offers anyone with a skill or passion alternative ways of earning income, providing innovative paths towards both personal and financial freedom. People can pursue their interests and hobbies in ways that also allow them to earn a living.
And it’s not just about personal fulfillment: independent teachers are also finding that they can do very well financially. This is especially true when it comes to teaching online:
- When teaching from home, overhead and expenses are minimal.
- On the internet, the size of a potential client base is virtually unlimited.
- Independent teachers can keep virtually 100% of any revenue that students bring in — in stark contrast to how things used to be when teachers earned between 10 and 20% of the revenue collected by a gym or school.
In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to set up and operate your own teaching business — one where you can teach exactly what you want and how you want. Teachers can pursue their passion on their own terms and enjoy the highest level of professional fulfillment as teacherpreneurs.
6 Effective Ways to Improve Your Employability in 2022 and Beyond
You really don’t have to be an expert to see that the present-day labor market is a mass. On the one hand, the global economy is experiencing a prolonged labor shortage. On the other, the recent crisis has caused massive layoffs and the shutdown of entire industries.
Throw into the mix the lightning development of digital tech, changing job profiles, generational shifts, and gradual transition toward new work models like contingent teams and telecommuting and you will get a pretty hectic environment that offers very few certainties and easily throws aspiring job candidates off the rails.
So, what are the skills that should help you land the job you always wanted, and what you can do to improve your employability in 2022 and beyond? Let us try to find out.
Master the interview techniques
Sure, it’s always good to have a rock-solid and well-put-together CV to back you up. But, if you fail to make a good first impression at the interview your academic accomplishments and previous work experience will be worth very little. With that in mind, we would like to point out that interviewers don’t really want to get practiced answers to generic questions. They will use this short time to assess your communication skills, your ability to stay calm under pressure, your ability to engage in creative thinking and problem solving, and your confidence. So, be sure to give these soft skills a proper workout before applying.
Embrace the attitude of lifelong learning
We are living in a time when the business world moves so fast that the skills you have mastered this morning may become obsolete the very next day. So, instead of trying to nail down any specific part of the business landscape or specific technology so you are able to move on, you should embrace the attitude of lifelong learning and use every new day to try to keep up with everything going on in the world. With that in mind, proper learning, memorization, and time-management techniques will prove to be much more valuable than any bits of knowledge since you will be able to use them on any future task you get.
Develop entrepreneurial mindset
The times of obedient grunts are long gone. Modern employers much prefer workers who are able to demonstrate a bit more initiative and bring more value to the table. And you can’t possibly be more valuable than by thinking like an entrepreneur. If you are, for instance, working in the construction sector you can try to improve the efficiency of your team by using the more comfortable Hi Vis workwear, trying out new construction techniques of adjusting the shifts. The workers who are able of improving the operations that way are not only in higher demand but also climb up the ranks much faster.
Start developing a professional network
For better or for worse, the business world was always built on strong personal and professional relationships. So, if you want to increase your chances of finding a good job. Make sure then to get to know the people that can help you out. Start by creating a website, making a presence on relevant social media platforms, and, why not, even engaging in casual blogging. Also, try attending courses regarding the industry you are most interested in since you will be able to meet a lot of future business leaders and high-value professionals. Eat where successful people eat and hang out where they like to hang out.
Expand your interests and hobbies
Even though this doesn’t look like having anything to do with your career outlook finding an interesting hobby can prove to be of tremendous help here. First, you will find some areas where you can excel and, thus, improve your self-worth and mitigate the pressure of professional accomplishment. Second, you will be able to meet dozens of new, interesting, and possibly even influential people that may not be present in your current social circles. Finally, new hobbies and interests always make you a more worldly and social person, and out of all the soft skills you need to land a job, these are the hardest to acquire.
Set clear and tangible goals
Last but not least, we would like that all the pursuits we have covered above should be driven by clear and very specific objectives. Otherwise, your efforts will soon become very muddled and your career plans wishful thinking. So, break all the ongoing plans into more immediate short-term objectives and then break these objectives into concrete steps you need to make every single day to get to the finish line. While you are doing that make sure your objectives are made SMART, or in other words, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Measurable, and Time-constrained to always get the best possible results.
We hope these few examples gave you a general idea about the strategies you can use to make your pursuit of your next employment, faster, more effortless, and even more fun and engaging. The old times when you would spend whole decades at the same job are now long over. But, this new more dynamic labor market also presents endless opportunities for personal and professional growth if approached correctly. The tips we gave you should definitely nudge you in the right direction.
6 Ways Digital Technology Is Transforming All Major Industries
Some analysts claim that at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s we turned a new page of history and entered the so-called digital age when our society became completely reliant on the evolution of digital tech. And even though people back then who had only Tetris and dial-up internet would call such claims exaggerated we now see they were spot on.
There is no better example of this than the business world where digital tech swept over all industries and integrated them so tightly that we can now safely say running a company without using digital assets is no longer possible.
Still, this change doesn’t have to be bad or intimidating as long as we can grasp its magnitude and use its results to our advantage. So, let’s see how exactly digital tech transforms the way we do business.
The success of one company always heavily relied on a high level of collaboration and efficient sharing of relevant information. The development of digital technologies completely redefined how we think about these factors and use them in the business environment. Instant messaging apps, conferencing tools, cloud-based resources, and even more complex technologies like BIM are all setting up an infrastructure where a high level of collaboration regardless of the location of the team members is built right into the very core of any workflow rather than some abstract qualities the workers need to put effort to achieve.
Evolution of remote workplaces
With advanced collaboration tools making the concerns about employees’ location obsolete, it was only expected that the business world will start gradually transitioning to a looser employee structure and start adopting new flexible models like remote working and contingent workforces. Well, it turn out that we needed the outbreak of COVID-19 for this process to take a full swing but, be that as it may, we have come to the point where 4.7 million US workers work remotely at least half the time. This situation will continue developing until the location-based, regional and national boundaries are no longer relevant.
Changing labor profiles
As we said in the introduction, all active industries, regardless of their field of work now use some sort of digital assets at least in some capacity. This shift goes right down to manual labor where workers are expected to use tools like VR, IoT, and intrinsically safe devices and fit into the shared automated workflow. That means future jobs will require a considerable level of digital literacy and change the very profile of countless professions. This shouldn’t be seen as such a detriment since this new digital outlook may attract prospective talents and seal the labor gaps countless industries are currently facing.
AI taking over the reins
Artificial intelligence was always more adept at handling certain tasks than human beings. Sorting through extensive sets of data and performing complex calculations are the two things that first come to mind. However, as modern AI becomes more advanced and Machine Learning is picking up a lot of steam this list continues to develop giving machines complete reign over the activities like workflow management, CR, logistics, and even limited decision-making. This development doesn’t completely rule out human input but rather allows it to move attention from menial chores to other higher-value duties.
Higher level of safety
Aside from being able to perform countless tasks much faster than human beings, AI handless these chores with far fewer errors. This extreme level of efficiency, repeatability, and certainty, as a result, drastically speeds up production, eliminates expensive mistakes and human-caused breakdowns, and, most importantly, makes workplaces much safer places to be in. Even when we use human labor, the combined forces of IoT and AR can provide workers with much better awareness of their surroundings, warn them about the dangers, and help them complete tasks with greater efficiency.
Pushing the limits of efficiency
Speaking of efficiency, we have to point out that, up until recently the ability of one company to produce some output was limited by the abilities and the resources of their employees. Now when digital tech is taking a larger role in this process and human workers are moving to oversight duties it becomes evident that the productivity limitations we have mentioned above are no longer present. Because of that the industries will be able to achieve an unprecedented level of productivity and push the global economy to an entirely new level. Digitalization thus becomes imperative rather than an option.
We hope these couple of examples gave you a general idea about how digital technologies are shaping up the business world of tomorrow and even uncovered some strategies you can use to turn this tide to your advantage. The most important thing to take out of everything we said above is that this train is speeding up and failing to board it, at this point, is really no longer a viable option. So, the best thing you can do is to pick up the pace, keep up with the trends and use the fruits of this digital evolution to gain an advantage over the companies with less foresight.
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