Whether you want to free yourself from the personal and financial restrictions of employment or you just want to supplement your salary with some extra spending money, working for yourself or starting and growing a business has never been easier — and there’s never been a greater choice of roles to choose from.
Below are several incredible freelance and small business opportunities in a variety of different industries you can start working on today.
Home & Remote Business Opportunities
What’s not to love about working from home? Zero commute, complete kitchen facilities, and maybe even the ability to work in your pajamas.
Here are some great business opportunities that will allow you to work from the comfort of home:
1. Professional Consulting
Those with an enviable track record in setting up or helping to grow businesses have easily-transferable skills they can use to make money from home.
Market yourself as a professional consultant who assists others in launching and building successful businesses through online sites like Clarity. Alternatively, you could also offer (and charge more for) in-person consultations, either going out to visit clients on their turf, or having them come to your home office (although you should probably get changed out of those PJs first).
2. Home-Based Child Care
Childcare is and always will be essential to many families, and daycare centers don’t come cheap. If you’re already spending the day keeping a watchful eye over your own little ones, why not pocket a little extra cash by undercutting the “pros” and providing childcare to friends and neighbors, too?
What in-demand skills do you have that you can teach to others? Business skills like consultancy are generally the most profitable, as you can charge much more for your time — but it’s usually harder to find clients, and many of your bookings will be one-off training sessions.
Other skills, from teaching languages to music to helping with reading or writing, are all easy to turn into businesses — and they can be reasonably lucrative and hugely rewarding, too.
What you can charge will depend upon your experience, location, and vocation you’re teaching; just don’t expect to make your millions this way. That said, most of your customers will visit on a recurring basis, so tutoring should at least provide you with a regular, reliable income.
4. Elder Care
Like childcare, care for the elderly is an essential service that will always be in demand. What’s more, those that need it often do better when able to remain in their own homes instead of moving into assisted living.
While certain elements of care require medical qualifications, helping clients with day-to-day tasks like shopping, cleaning, and cooking do not.
5. Private Chef
If you’re skilled in the kitchen but don’t fancy the long hours and stressful environment that’s synonymous with full-time restaurant work, you might want to consider working as a private chef instead.
Exactly what this entails will vary from job to job, but expect to mainly be dishing up quality cuisine to groups of friends and family at dinner parties. Just bear in mind that you might need to employ waitstaff to serve food and drinks and look after guests.
The gig economy isn’t for everyone, but for the right person, driving for Uber or Lyft are great ways to make a little cash. You can choose the hours you drive, and the app will automatically connect you to clients who need a ride.
Have you ever seen a piece of furniture on Craigslist that has potential if someone would just give it a little TLC? If you are particularly handy, you could go to thrift shops and garage sales, pick up items at low prices, refurbish them, and turn them around for a higher price.
This concept doesn’t just apply to furniture, either. If you have a good eye, you could scout for collectibles, oddities, and more. Auction sites like eBay can connect you with a wide audience looking for your items.
8. Makeup & Hair Styling
Proms, weddings, and other special occasions compel people to look their best. You can become an independent stylist and have people come to your home studio, or you can make house calls or work on-location. Eventually, you might consider opening up a salon or spa, but many independent artists love the flexibility of working from home and/or being mobile.
9. Pet Sitting
Just like in-home child care, pet sitting is an industry that you can tap into to make extra money. Many folks want the peace of mind knowing that someone is there for their fur baby, ensuring they’re comfortable and safe while they’re gone. Sites such as care.com help put potential clients in front of pet sitters in their local area.
If you have an extra room, casita, or property, you can use it to earn money when you sign up as an Airbnb host. You can list your space for free, and Airbnb does all the heavy lifting for you, making it easy to attract and host travelers. You can charge what you want, and Airbnb even protects you with property damage and accident insurance.
Online Business Opportunities
Online business opportunities also afford you all the benefits of working from home, but even better, many of them allow you to work from absolutely anywhere (which has never been easier or more fun, thanks to the ever-growing coworking industry).
Tommy Landry of Return on Now, explains this transformation. “One of the major changes to ‘how we work’ over the past decade is the massive shift toward free agency, i.e. freelancing, consulting, or running solopreneur-types of businesses,” he says. “While many older workers were taught to pursue security in the form of a full-time job, that is no longer the only way to make a living. In fact, it has become super easy to make the leap out to independence heading into 2019. You could consult or freelance in a number of areas from copywriting to marketing strategy, or run your own ecommerce business from your home.”
He also advises that no matter which path you choose, the smart way to “escape” your full-time job is to start making this transition while you’re still working. “I started my own business as a side gig back in 2009, while running marketing teams for local high tech companies,” he explains. “It took 2.5 years to build up the business enough to sustain a living income, and I went full-time in 2012. I’m living proof … if you want to run solo, you can do it with the right business model, a sound exit strategy, and a lot of hard work.”
11. Gig Work
Want a way to start making money in minutes? Sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and People Per Hour allow you to do just that.
Another valuable (but often overlooked) resource for finding freelance work is Craigslist. “Craigslist has a whole section devoted to Gigs you can join to make additional money,” says Carl Sednaoui, Director of Marketing at MailCharts.
Just bear in mind that these jobs aren’t scalable. What they are, however, is a great way to make a little extra pocket money by outsourcing your skills on your own terms.
Some sites are better than others — in terms of both opportunities and pay — so you should do your research to find the best match for your skills, abilities, and expectations.
It’s also well worth considering some sound advice from Foundr‘s Jeremy Noronha. “Go where your customers are, not where your competition is,” he advises. “Many freelancers who get started tend to hang out in the online communities with their peers and not their potential clients. The best way to develop and build the right relationships is to provide value in all the places your ideal clients spend their time.”
Some skills are more in demand than others. The rarer the skill (and the better you are at it), the more you can expect to earn.
12. Web Design
It can be tough to find great web designers and developers, and that’s why freelance web designers are highly sought after. As Ashley Faulkes, founder of Mad Lemmings explains, one of the biggest reasons behind this is the fact that the industry is overrun with cheap-yet-underskilled designers and developers.
“Web design and development has gotten a bad rap lately with so many cheap options available, but I still find clients who want a personal and professional touch,” she says. “You can start with the basics, and produce top-notch sites using online tools, or start with WordPress and good themes and page builders. Focus on quality and great communication and you will soon make a name for yourself.”
13. App Development
More than half of all web traffic is mobile. It may be competitive, but if you’ve got the skills, there’s big money to be made either in developing and distributing your own app or developing apps for others.
14. Amazon Selling
While the working conditions of Amazon’s own employees regularly come under fire, there are plenty of ways to make money through Amazon without being on its payroll.
Thanks to services like Amazon Fulfillment, it’s easier than you might think to sell products from home, since Amazon will pick, pack, and deliver your orders for you. The service can even enable you to import and export outside your home country.
Other opportunities include self-publishing ebooks (you can learn more about writing books that sell here) and affiliate marketing, which involves linking to Amazon products from your website, and earning a commission if a link is clicked and a purchase made.
15. Etsy Selling
Etsy is the platform for selling goods such as arts, crafts, jewelry, and much more. Basically, if it’s handmade, vintage, or just a little bit different, Etsy’s the place to find it (and sell it).
16. Course Creation
Sites like Udemy and Coursera allow you to market, sell, and profit from courses you’ve created yourself. Few of the courses are accredited, but that’s reflected in the price students pay.
They’re also far more popular than you might think. “Online courses are huge right now,” says David Hoos, Head of Marketing at The Good marketing agency. “They can be incredibly helpful to develop niche skills and businesses will often use them for professional development purposes. If you have a unique skill that you can organize and share, a course is a great way to do it!”
17. Virtual Assisting
Working as a virtual personal assistant takes minimal skill and is easy to get into, since there are always businesses looking for people to take on day-to-day grunt work without the cost of hiring an assistant in-house.
18. Influencer Marketing on Social Media
This one might sound like wishful thinking, but countless people are making substantial amounts of money simply by having a large and engaged social following.
Sure, it’s not for everyone, and even if it is for you, it takes time to become successful. That said, if you’ve got the right personality and patience, making money using your influence online is a very real possibility.
19. Freelance Writing
With the demand for digital content, you can position yourself in front of clients who need text produced for their websites or other collateral. The most popular freelance opportunities are in:
Content writing – Writing article content to drive traffic.
Copy writing – Writing sales copy to drive conversions and revenue.
In addition, you can even be more specialized within those functions. For example, you could focus on case studies or whitepapers.
Federal Business Opportunities
This might sound surprising in the age of corporate giants, but where possible, the U.S. government supports small businesses by contracting work out to local independents. This means there are always opportunities for the “little guy” to get their foot in the door with the federal government. You can view a forecast of contracting opportunities here.
Meanwhile, common federal business opportunities include:
This could entail constructing new government buildings or updating or maintaining existing buildings. Even simple janitorial work is understandably always in demand.
Opportunities are typically listed on job sites like Indeed and Simply Hired.
Security is, understandably, of extreme importance in government buildings. While this will include security measures like cameras and alarms, security personnel are often employed in order to screen visitors and patrol the interior and exterior of buildings at off-hours.
While you can provide security services as a sole contractor, the business is easily scalable by employing and finding work for others.
Consultants are experts in a specialist field who are employed to advise those with less knowledge and experience than themselves. Government consultants are no different.
Don’t expect finding work in this area to be easy, however. You’ll need solid proof of your ability to do the job, and you may well be required to have a degree — in some cases, even a master’s or Ph.D.
Other Business Opportunities
If none of the opportunities above sound like something you could leverage, here are a few other lucrative business opportunities that could be the right fit for your skills:
23. Personal Training
Health, fitness, and general wellbeing are big business. That means those with the skills to help others be their best are in high demand. That includes personal trainers, for one.
So how do you get started as a personal trainer?
Personal training is an unregulated industry, but that doesn’t mean your 3-year gym membership qualifies you to help others improve their strength and fitness. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could cause somebody serious injury.
You can read up on reputable personal training courses and what to do once you’re qualified, here.
24. Real Estate
In many states, you can complete the required training, become a licensed agent, and start a new career in just a few weeks or months. While it does require an investment of time, money, and effort, it can be well worth it. You can be your own boss, work a flexible schedule, and have the potential to make a lot of money. While there is no shortage of real estate agents in the industry, there’s still plenty of space for agents who genuinely want to do the best they can for their clients. Learn how to get a real estate license here.
25. Turnkey Businesses
Turnkey businesses offer an ideal startup model for those with limited time or budget, largely because the time investment is minimal.
Examples of turnkey businesses include storage units, laundromats, and automated car washes — basically, turnkey businesses are those that are largely self-sufficient and can almost manage themselves.
26. Trade Work
If you’re skilled in DIY and happy to compete on price while making a name for yourself, you can start leveraging your skills for cash right away.
Don’t know a hammer from a hacksaw? Then enroll in a course and learn. Skilled trades are one of the few industries in which demand outstrips talent. Whether you want to start out on your own, or begin by working for someone else, the pay is good, the work is rewarding, and job security is pretty much guaranteed.
A few trades you might want to consider include:
27. Lead Generation
Almost all B2B companies have a need for leads. What they don’t all have is the time to acquire them.
While there are numerous services offering up automated lead data, the quality of those leads is questionable at best. That means there’s good money to be made sourcing qualified leads for time-strapped, growth-focused companies.
AeroLeads‘ Pushkar Gaikwad has some good advice on how to do this. “Partner with local marketing agencies and provide them with B2B data, prospects and leads, based on their requirements,” he says. “You can gather such data using various free and paid online tools. Later you can start your own lead generation agency, too.”
28. Food or Coffee Truck
Running a restaurant or coffee shop is risky business, primarily because overhead is so high. Traditional brick-and-mortars are not your only option when it comes to managing a food or drink business, however. You can be super-successful for a fraction of the cost with a food or coffee truck.
Izaak Crook of AppInstitute agrees. “Food trucks are a fantastic way to showcase your culinary expertise without the overhead of opening a static restaurant — and what’s more, you can take your food on the road to different events and festivals to raise awareness of your brand,” he explains. “Create your own mobile app for your truck and help to build a loyal customer base through offering a loyalty scheme — and even offer pre-ordering so that punters don’t have to wait out in the cold whilst you prepare their meals!”
The key to any successful small business is knowing exactly who your audience is, how you plan to attract and serve them, and why they should buy from you. Start planning for your business today.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Original Source: blog.hubspot.com
The average office worker sends 40 emails per day. That’s 40 opportunities to market yourself and your business in those individual emails you send, every single day.
A lot of people treat their email signatures like an afterthought, which makes for a real missed opportunity. Those signatures are a chance for you to make it clear who you are, make it easy for people to reach you, and give people a place to go to find out more — either about you, about your business, or about something you’re working on.
So, if you’re just putting your name and a point or two of contact information in your signature, you’re not taking full advantage of the opportunity to connect and engage with the people you’re emailing. (Although you don’t want to go overboard, either. Jamming your signature full of links and information is just plain spammy and self-promotional.)
So what should go in your signature? Much of this will depend on personal preference, your organization’s brand and culture, and even the industry you’re in. However, here are some suggestions as you create your own:
What to Include in an Email Signature
First and Last Name
Affiliation Info (Such as Job Title and Department)
Secondary Contact Information
Social Profile Icons
Call to Action
Industry Disclaimer or Legal Requirements
Photo or Logo
1. First and Last Name
Just like with snail mail correspondence, your name should always be included so that the recipient of your message knows who it was from. This manifests in the email signature, often as the first line of text.
2. Affiliation Info (Such as Job Title and Department)
Closely following your name should be your affiliation information. Your affiliations could include your job title, your company or organization, and/or even your department. Your name should eventually be its own draw, of course, as you build a relationship with the recipient, but providing this information provides more context about the conversation and your role in it. In addition, affiliating yourself with a larger organization lends you more credibility, especially if it’s a recognizable organization. This helps you get the attention of your readers so they take your message seriously.
3. Secondary Contact Information
Secondary contact information is important, too, so that the recipient knows how else to contact you. Secondary information might include phone, fax, or any other method of communication you want to emphasize. In situations where you don’t want to cough up your direct line, you could take this opportunity to promote your personal website — a passive way to open the lines of communication without flooding yourself with outreach if you don’t want.
4. Social Profile Icons
Your social media presence is a major part of your personal brand because it helps you gain a following in your space and shows people what you care about. You can tell a lot about a person by what they post and how they portray themselves.
That’s why it’s a great idea to include links to your social media pages in your email signature. It not only reinforces your personal brand, but it also helps people find new ways to contact and follow you.
Even better? It can help drive traffic to your online content if you’re posting links to that content on social. So if you do include social icons in your signature, make sure you’re keeping your social profiles up-to-date and chock full of interesting, relevant content. (In other words, if you haven’t tweeted in six months, you may want to leave Twitter out.)
Why use social media icons instead of simply text links? Because icons are more easily recognizable for folks skimming your signature — and they’ll stand out from the rest of the text in there. According to research from NeoMam Studios, visuals shown in color increase a person’s willingness to read the rest of the content by 80%. That’s a huge advantage. Plus, icons are big space-savers in a place where you might be packing a lot of information.
Even if you have a presence on a lot of social media sites, though, try to cap the number of icons to five or six. Focus on the accounts that matter most to growing your business or building your personal brand.
If you do include a lot of social media icons, at least try to cut back on the other content if possible so your design isn’t too busy. Check out the example below, made using HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator.
5. Call to Action
One of the smartest things you can do in your email signature is include a call-to-action. The best email signature CTAs are simple, up-to-date, non-pushy, and in line with your email style, making them appear more like post-script, and less like a sales pitch. Choose a CTA that aligns with one of your current business goals, and update it when those goals change.
Here’s a great example from HubSpot’s former Social Media Manager, Chelsea Hunersen. She changes her text CTA depending on her current social media goals. A few months ago, she used it to drive people to HubSpot’s Twitter account.
Once she created a unique Slack channel for inbound marketers, she switched up her email signature CTA to point people there, instead.
Links to videos can be especially noticeable because in some email clients like Gmail, a video’s thumbnail will show up underneath your signature. Here’s an example of what that looks like from our own Emily MacIntyre:
6. Booking Links
If you find yourself emailing back and forth with colleagues and clients who want to book meetings with you, make it easy for them by including a link to book your calendar right in your email signature. Here’s an example from our own Bryan Lowry, below.
There are many tools out there that’ll help people book appointments. Bryan from the example above uses HubSpot’s shareable personalized booking link. If you’re a HubSpot Sales customer, you can share your personalized meeting link with anyone who you want to book a meeting with and let them choose from your available times. If you want, you can make it so the HubSpot CRM automatically creates a new contact record for anyone who books a meeting if one doesn’t already exist.
If you aren’t a HubSpot customer, one great meeting tool is Calendly, which is free for Basic and lets you integrate your Google or Office 365 calendar. YouCanBook.me is another booking tool that goes for $7 per calendar per month.
7. Industry Disclaimer or Legal Requirements
Some industries such as legal, financial, and insurance have specific guidelines on email usage and etiquette to protect private information from being transmitted. For this reason, you may want to look into what regulations your industry has in place and include a disclaimer in your signature about email transmissions. Mail-Signatures offers a number of email disclaimer examples, including this one:
“The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.”
8. Photo or Logo
An image is a great choice to spice up your email signature. If you want a personal touch so that recipients you’ve never met can associate your name with your face, consider using a professional photo in your signature. Alternatively, you can use the company’s logo to add more brand awareness to the email.
While not as common in email signatures and certainly not required, adding your preferred pronouns to your signature is helpful, especially when emailing individuals you’ve never met. It also takes ambiguity away if you have a name perceived as gender-neutral.
Now that you know the elements you should include, what does a great email signature look like? Here are some tips for creating signatures that are helpful and professional, including a few great examples. You can also use HubSpot’s free Email Signature Generator to make your own professional email signature template and easily add it to your email client.
How to Write an Email Signature
Emphasize your name, affiliation, and secondary contact information.
Keep the colors simple and consistent.
Use design hierarchy.
Make links trackable.
Use space dividers.
Include an international prefix in your contact number.
Make your design mobile-friendly.
1. Emphasize your name, affiliation, and secondary contact information.
As you might guess, your name comes first. Closely following your name, however, should be your affiliation and where else people can reach you.
Your affiliation could mean your job title, your company, your school, or a similar organization that you deem important to your recipients. Your name should eventually be its own draw, of course, but using a more popular brand name — and even its logo — ensures you get the attention of your readers and they take your message seriously.
Secondary contact information is important, too. You might not want to endorse your personal phone number, but you could take this opportunity to promote your personal website — a passive way to open the lines of communication without flooding yourself with outreach you don’t want.
Here’s a sample email signature that hits on all three things described above nicely. Kevin’s first and last name are accompanied by his affiliation with the University of Connecticut. He also promotes his personal website so his recipients have another outlet to see his work and contact him for more information.
Want to create a signature like the one below? Use HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator.
2. Keep the colors simple and consistent.
Branding is most effective when it’s consistent — and that includes your email signature. Adding color to your email signature is a nice touch that’ll help it stand out from the rest of your email. But if you do choose to use color, be sure to stick to one or two in addition to dark text.
Use subtle highlights to match your logo or branding, like Brittany Hodak does in her email signature, below. Notice how her social media icons are the same blue hue as the ZinePak logo.
3. Use design hierarchy.
Good design is all about presenting your information in an easily digestible manner. Because your email signature is likely more a list of information than it is a compelling story, you’ll want to use hierarchy to direct readers’ eyes to what they should be reading first.
Scale your name up to a larger font so that it attracts the most attention, like you would on a resume. Then, pick and choose information to bold and color based on importance so you can help guide people’s eyes logically through the design, as in the example below.
Image Credit: Envato
4. Make links trackable.
So you put a few links in your email signature, including your CTA and your social media icons. But is anyone actually clicking on them?
To figure out whether the links in your signature are actually attracting clicks and making an impact, you’ll want to make those links trackable — just like you would any other link in your emails.
Follow these instructions to easily make a tracking link that helps you attribute traffic to your website to your email signature. From time to time, you might switch up the format of your signature or the wording inside your signature to see what drives the most clicks.
5. Use space dividers.
Although you never want to jam-pack your email signature for too much information, there are ways to fit a lot of text into a compact area like this one without compromising design.
This is helpful for breaking up different types of information, like your name and contact information, your logo, any calls-to-action you have, or even a disclaimer.
Using space dividers within your design, as in the example below, is one great way to do this. You can also use glyph dividers, which is the vertical bar symbol (i.e., |.)
6. Include an international prefix in your contact number.
If you work with people around the world, don’t forget the prefix for your country’s code when you list your contact phone number. Many people overlook this if they aren’t used to dialing international prefixes themselves, but it’s really helpful for your international colleagues and clients to have it right on there. Here’s a list of country codes if you don’t know yours.
Here’s an example from Kit Smith, formerly of Brandwatch, a company that has offices in both the United States and Europe and works with international clients. Having the U.S.’s country code on their helps make it easier for folks in other countries to reach him by phone.
7. Make your design mobile-friendly.
According to Litmus, Apple’s iMobile accounted for 46% of all email opens in June 2018. Not only that, but mobile users check their email three times more often than non-mobile users.
The more people who read email on mobile devices, the more you’ll want to keep mobile users top-of-mind when you’re writing emails — including your email signature.
One major way to make your email signature mobile-friendly is to make your signature’s design easy to read and clickable for mobile users. This is where scale becomes really important. Make sure your text is large enough to read on small mobile screens, and that your links and buttons are large enough — and spaced out enough — for folks to tap on with their fingers.
Check out the example below, and note how much space there is between different clickable elements like the social media icons. These are great for tapping with your finger on a mobile screen so that users don’t accidentally tap on the Facebook icon when they meant to go to Twitter.
Image Credit: Canva
Finally, as with any part of an email, make sure your signature looks as good as you think it does by testing it with various email clients. Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, for example, so avoid using those. Other email clients don’t load images by default at all.
Armed with these email signature best practices, you can create your own signature that aligns with your brand and brings your emails an extra touch of professionalism.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in [Month Year] and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Original Source: blog.hubspot.com
This past Monday on May 4, the team behind the DesignUp conferences hosted an online panel structured along the Star Wars movie series, titled ‘May The 4th Be With You.’ YourStory was the media partner for the event (see Part I and Part II of our panel previews).
Eight experts from disciplines including design were featured in a rapid round of lightning-sharp presentations (inspired by the light-sabre fights of the legendary movie series). They offered informative and provocative peeks into the “near future and futures far far away.”
See YourStory’s coverage of the annual DesignUp conference editions from 2019, 2018 and 2017, as well as our d-Zen (‘Design Zen’) section for more design resources. Also check out our three-part coverage of the earlier panel, ‘DesignUp Circuit: The pandemic’s impact on design as a business.’
Presentations and polls
To make the discussion focused and engaging, each of the eight speakers had to make a four-slide presentation on what they thought would be the key changes in the next four weeks, months, quarters and years. The speakers chose themes as varied as migrant worker lives, the impact of education, changes in the tourism industry, and the role of government.
The event also featured four online polls for audience participation, with multiple-choice answers. The questions were: when do you think we can get back to work in the office or studio without restrictions; when will we do a road trip with family or friends to the beaches or mountains without passes and permits; when can we hug or shake hands like courteous and loving humans; and when can we fly to another country without a worry.
The panel host was Shiva Viswanathan, Brand and UX Coach for Ogilvy PennyWise. He began by citing science fiction author Isaac Asimov: “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
From vision to execution
The stage was appropriately set by the first speaker, Alysha Naples, Chief Experience Officer, Tin Drum (Amsterdam). She urged audiences to introspect deeply and map four activities on to the four periods: confront your mortality (in the first four weeks), clarify your values (in the first four months), build your dream (in the next four quarters), and live your vision (in the next four years).
She evocatively captured these phases in the form of four quotes:
“Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.” – Carl Sagan
“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” – Lao Tzu, ‘Tao Te Ching’
“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’
“As a day well spent brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Sketchnotes by Rasagy Sharma
Learnings from ‘bad hair’ days
Himanshu Khanna, Founder of Sparklin (New Delhi), drew parallels with how people dealt with home issues ranging from their hair to household chores during the lockdown period. His sense of humour shone through in the choice of images for the slides – different kinds of haircuts.
“It's almost like the pandemic pushed us back to childhood. Whatever we didn't learn since then, we are forced to learn now,” he joked. Drawing on the yuga framework, he mapped activities onto the four phases of mimicry (like a new-born), self-discovery (curiosity and experimentation), commitment (solution and breakthrough), and legacy (harmonious dialogue, enlightenment).
“There are parallels between our acceptance and learnings through the current situation with the four stages of life. In some weird moment, it sounded very similar to how the yugas move in a cycle from Kali to Satya,” he explained.
“Though we are struggling in the initial phase – looking at each other to mimic and learn, by the end, we will get comfortable. Humans always do. That's how we survive and have survived in the past,” Himanshu explained.
“The inner spirit is bigger than our outer aspirations. We all will eventually reach that golden stage of acceptance and comfort,” he summed up. Himanshu later shared with YourStory that he is also donating earnings from his consultations to relief funds; donors get preferential slots as well. His efforts have also been covered in ‘Outlook’ magazine.
Impact on migrant workers
The plight of India’s migrant workers was highlighted in photographic storytelling form by Shaheena Attarwala, Design Director at Zoomcar (Bengaluru). “The migrant worker crisis in times of pandemic is far from over – 40 million internal migrant workers across India now want to go back home to their families,” she explained.
She narrated the issue in four phases: current hardship, the journey back home, eventual return to the city, and long-term aspirations and rights. “While the middle class has the privilege of practising social distancing in the comfort of their homes, these labourers are living in inhuman conditions, and desperation has made them take the unimaginable step of walking hundreds of kilometres back to their homes,” she lamented.
The situation gets even more complex for women and child labourers. “Some have died on the journey to their home. Furthermore, communal and gender-based violence is on the rise,” Shaheena added.
“It is a great disadvantage today to belong to a minority religious group. They fear making the long walk back home due to the risk of being lynched or being put in a vulnerable spot,” she cautioned.
She criticised the current situation of state apathy and arbitrary execution of orders by governments. “Efforts should be made to let migrants go back home when they wish. It’s human nature for us to be with our families in times of crisis, and they want just that,” Shaheena urged.
Unfortunately, migrant labourers in India are historically treated as second-class or invisible citizens, and this pandemic has reaffirmed that societal bias. “They are beaten at borders, die walking home, or die of hunger staying back in the city living an undignified life,” Shaheena lamented.
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“Labourers flock to the city to earn a dignified life not to live at the mercy of the middle class. Questioning why they want to go back or holding them back against their will in the city is plain selfish use of muscle power against the already-marginalised section of the society,” she emphasised. Instead of travel surcharges, donations made by Indian citizens must be used for this purpose, she advocated.
In the near future, the state must bring in policy reforms as a safety net for the labour force. As examples, Shaheena listed Universal Basic Income, insurance, health services, cash transfer, labour rights, and protection from discrimination. “Safety will be one of the most important deciding factors in integrating women and minority labour forces back into urban society,” she added.
Over the next couple of years, the labour force in India would want to come back with hope, she summed up. “But the employment rate is currently at its worst, and stimulus packages will be needed urgently otherwise there will be more civil unrest in society,” Shaheena cautioned.
She later explained to YourStory that she has helped raise relief funds through an online campaign on Ketto; over Rs 23 lakh have been raised so far. Migrant labourers, daily wagers, pregnant women and children in the slums of Mumbai are being assisted through supplies of cooked meals, food, essential items, and medical camps for issuing medical certificates.
Dharmesh Ba, Head of Research, Setu/D91 Labs, shed light on the need for more financial inclusion. “The current health crisis provides an opportunity to accelerate technology adoption in distributing financial products, thereby bringing us closer to the reality of financial inclusion,” he explained.
He divided this financial journey into four steps: bill payments (first four weeks), insurance (four months), savings (four quarters), and digital credit (four years). “These activities create a digital trail for formal financial institutions to evaluate intent and ability to repay loans,” he said.
“High smartphone penetration gave us the accessibility to technology, but the current health crisis gives us a reason to put technology to its utmost use. In other words, India will soon move beyond just creating TikTok videos to comment on the crisis,” he summed up.
Dharmesh later shared with YourStory that he has been approached for job opportunities by those who have been laid off. He and his Twitter friends have launched an initiative called ‘Jobs and Hopes’ in this regard, to collect such information and share it with HR heads.
Also ReadGovernment sets up 20 control rooms to address migrant workers' plight amid coronavirus lockdownThe journey of the travel industry
Fatema Raja, UX Lead at Gojek (Bengaluru) explained how the travel and tourism sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, and what a recovery may look like. “Much of the world is in lockdown, many people are unable or unwilling to travel. The only thing that seems to be getting through all the closed borders and travel bans is the virus itself,” she lamented.
“When the much-awaited regular travel returns, it’s likely to come back in stages. The face of travel will change, how people choose their destinations will change,” she emphasised.
For example, in the near term (four weeks), most travel will be largely for essential-only purposes. The travel urge will be met via online experiences and TV shows. “Viewing nature digitally also has been scientifically proven to help peoples’ mental wellbeing, which feels especially important right now,” Fatema explained.
Once air travel starts picking up (say within four months), the spike will be travellers trapped in different countries and wanting to return home. “After that, air travel will fall off the cliff. Instead, day trips, camping and visits to small parks will be the trend,” she predicted.
With these baby steps, people try to rebuild their confidence for venturing beyond home. “I anticipate road trips to soar in popularity when travel resumes. Which means that some people who never thought of cars as a wise asset investment will rethink their decisions,” Fatema observed.
People’s fundamental definition of assets will change. “There will be an uptake in two-wheelers and four-wheelers for private transportation,” Fatema predicted.
“Even in the next one year, international travel will most likely not come back to status quo. Locked borders will also impede such travel. Instead, domestic travel will be the first type of trip people will take, and untapped domestic destinations will be a huge trend,” she said.
“Nature will be a big attraction given how much time we’ve spent at home. Tourists will pick sparsely-populated areas and not major cities,” Fatema said. This could be the time for a major shift in people’s perspective towards travel.
“Travel will be more meaningful and planned. The hospitality industry will have to match high service standards, and make luxury slightly more affordable,” she advised.
Business travel will take a dip. “This crisis has given a good crash course in remote working and gave birth to amazing remote collaboration tools,” Fatema observed. The future of travel will not only depend on the travel discounts or vaccines becoming available, but also on how well the travel industry can convince us that we’re safe in their hands, she added.
Interestingly, tourism will explode only later, over the next four years. “People who have saved up will want to travel to as many places as they can. It will be 2019 on steroids, but the way people would be choosing places to travel will see a major shift,” Fatema predicted.
“Travelling to obscure places will be on the rise. Governments will have to rethink their tourism policies in order to reinforce travel, especially for countries that are dependent on tourism for their economy,” she recommended.
On the commute side of travel, Fatema said aircrafts will have to be re-designed to maintain social distancing and high sanitisation. “I see sanitisation tunnels at the airports right before check-in, vaccine stamps will become a mandate, and passengers will choose travel insurance plans with care,” she added.
In sum, travel will become more expensive and take longer to plan. “Safety and affordability will be key components in ensuring how and when people will travel again. But the truth is, we will always want a vacation and we will always want to travel. It’s just going to take us a little while to find our footing and soothe our anxiety once we are given the green light,” Fatema concluded.
She later explained to YourStory some of Gojek’s COVID-specific initiatives, such as donations to the Anak Bangsa Bisa Foundation, collaboration with rock band Slank to raise funds, an online fundraising hackathon in Jakarta, and cooked meals delivered to hospitals and quarantine centres.
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Education for the poor
Nikita Sarkar, UX Researcher, Google (Gurgaon) delivered a powerful presentation on the plight of migrant labourers’ children. “Due to the nature of their lifestyle, migrant children don't develop cognitive skills as per age requirement in basic areas like reading and writing. The COVID-19 crisis will dry up labourers’ earnings, which will lead to children being nudged into child labour just to support the family,” she lamented.
“We should start thinking of how we can help them in their learning journey,” Nikita urged, conveying her message in story form about a child called Nabil. Based on her field research, she explained the challenges migrant workers have faced in finding schools for their children.
Fortunately, some NGOs run schools that offer education and safety. Some children also use their parents’ phones to access YouTube cartoons and create TikTok videos. In their own unsupervised way, they develop some learning capabilities and skills.
It would be great for schools to add online learning as an offering, in this regard. Unfortunately, many of these schools that run on donations will face a funding crunch. But even if the school funding situation improves, many labourers may still want their children to work instead of attending school. It may take a longer while for Nabil to give exams, and maybe even longer to fulfil his dream of becoming an animal doctor, Nikita explained.
She cited UNESCO data which shows that the number of migrant children in 2013 was estimated to be 15 million. “Research is predicting that things won’t go back to normal like before, after this pandemic,” Nikita cautions.
The crisis is accelerating the move to digital learning. “Can we imagine a future for these migrant children where they don’t have to physically be present in school to be called educated?” Nikita signed off.
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Parallels to science fiction and earlier classic treatises on government were the focus of the presentation by Anshuman Bapna, Founder, Terra.do, and former CPO, MakeMyTrip (Bengaluru).
In sci-fi movie Solaris, the villain is the sun around which the space station revolves. “That sun amplifies the deepest, most desperate desires of anyone who looks into it,” he explained. “COVID-19 feels like Solaris. It takes our deepest hopes and most morbid fears and projects them into the world,” he added.
The next four weeks will pose a tough choice for governments to make as they balance the decision of saving lives versus saving livelihoods. Anshuman drew on the metaphor of the Trolley Problem to explain this dilemma. “As the mounting cost to the economy becomes clear, governments across the world will need to weigh the cost of a human life as they open up,” he said.
“A push to open up the economy faster at the expense of lives will eventually circle back to have a tragic effect on the economy. And vice versa. Truly a Hobbesian choice,” Anshuman said.
He then likened economic predictions for the next four months to the ‘dead cat bounce’ (small recovery). “Both supply and demand have fallen off a cliff across much of the world. At the same time, we haven’t seen such a massive imposition on people’s liberties across the globe before either,” he observed.
There could be a temporary rebound in stock markets, and even a spike in ‘debauchery’ in the form of long queues outside liquor shops. Anshuman also cautioned that there could be a second wave of COVID-19 in winter.
In the next year, existing and exposed fault-lines will crack open. “This pandemic has laid bare all the fault-lines in our unequal world – our income inequalities, our pillaging of this planet and our unsustainable lives,” he observed.
“We will see explosions of social unrest across the world – from the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris to the migrant workers of Surat. This will then become the perfect pretext for the Panic of the Elites,” Anshuman predicted. They will support drone policing and ghettoisation that would keep the “masses in their place”.
“You don’t need to look too far – check your own apartment complex to see the kind of rules that will apply to house help who come from outside your boundaries,” he explained.
In the long run, more people will realise that our fates across the planet are inextricably connected. “People will surprise the Elites by organising into emergent groups. Crowdsourcing will be used to find answers traditionally addressed by government,” Anshuman predicted.
People will share lessons, products, and tribal wisdom seamlessly, as seen in the emergence of sites like CovidIndiaTaskforce, StartupsVsCovid, Coronathon.in, HelpWithCovid, and EndCoronavirus.
“These sites sprang up overnight with thousands of exceptional volunteers. We’ll see these work communities spring up to solve our hardest problems,” Anshuman explained. He himself has launched Terra.do in this regard, an online school for solving climate change.
He concluded with the analogy of Hobbes’ Leviathan, written 400 years ago. It speaks of the role of strong, undivided government to use their massive capacity in tackling major problems. “Over the next few years, we’ll begin to appreciate how important, and how powerful an activist state can be,” Anshuman predicted.
But a strong state could go either way, he cautioned. “There’s a fork in the road ahead of us. One path can lead to isolationist states that erode the civil liberties of their citizens in the name of security. The other path has states expanding their roles to provide free universal healthcare and even Universal Basic Income,” he explained.
“Both type of states will prioritise a revival of the economy. But only one will use this crisis as an opportunity to rebuild in a way that’s inclusive and resilient,” he predicted.
After all, the US invented social security after The Great Depression. “2030 will feel like what 1950 must have felt like in the US – a future of endless possibilities. And our children will look back at 2020 as the year when it all changed,” he said poetically.
Looking ahead, Anshuman warned that the “mother-of-all-COVIDs” is hurtling towards us — climate change. “We will realise that COVID was the bullet, but Climate was the trigger,” he summed up.
“Strong national governments combined with collective action from their populations will ultimately win the day. Our COVID response will show that bold action is not only possible, it is a politically winning strategy. This new-found self-belief will revive the national projects of many countries, and that elusive political will for fixing the planet will finally arrive,” said Anshuman.
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The next speaker brought things back to daily working life by addressing how working from home (WFH) will impact hiring. Yonatan Levy, VP Product at THE FLOOR, explained that people must use this opportunity to build their online personal brands.
“Remote hiring requires new skills from candidates. Structured video recordings can replace our CVs and most of our suitability assessment would be done asynchronously when we are not online,” he said.
He recommended the following activities mapped onto time phases: screen tests for online lighting, background and posture (four weeks), online content in the form of blogs, podcasts, newsletters and social media posts (four months), authority and influence in your specialty (four quarters), and recorded interviews for asynchronous hiring (four years).
Yonathan also cautioned that one of the consequences of too much online WFH is ‘Zoom exhaustion.’ This ‘Zoom fatigue’ is a result of too much straining to gain non-verbal cues in communication from small online windows for each speaker.
Transformations: The Road Ahead
Madanmohan Rao, Research Director at YourStory, summed up the hour-long discussion by drawing connections between the various presentations and adding new trajectories (see summary in the table above). Four key emotions to strengthen in the coming years include gratitude (for all that we have but take for granted), empathy (with those going through struggles that we may not be aware of), dignity (for labourers), and a sense of humour to ride the rough times.
Four key activities at a personal and professional level will be journaling (diaries to capture daily stories for analysis and fun), introspection (revisiting purpose, vision, ambition), experimentation (to learn during conditions of uncertainty), and collaboration (across sectors, eg. with government).
Each organisation and sector will need to strengthen and modify itself in future. Key sectors going ahead will be design, eg. configuring for the needs of safe distancing in public spaces, retail outlets, planes, and experiences during shopping and concerts.
The health sector will come to the forefront for tracking, tracing and treating patients, and building public immunity through vaccination. Just as some African countries require visitors to have yellow fever vaccination booklets, so also we may all need to travel with COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
The sectors dealing with finance and the economy will play a major role in providing support in the form of loans and credits. Many countries have social security programmes for the unemployed. Others like India will have to seriously consider Universal Basic Income provisions for labourers.
The education sector (in the broadest sense of the word, spanning schools, colleges, corporate training, skilling) will go through a rapid change due to digital transformation. It will play a key role in upgrading workforces to deal with the ‘new normal,’ and sustainable responses for tackling the larger challenge of climate change.
Finally, though plans may change often, it is important to develop plans for the next weeks, months, quarters and years. However, changes can also be immediate and drastic, eg. a sudden death in the family, which will be even more hard to bear due to the requirements of community isolation during lockdown.
In the long run, societies will need to ‘memorialise’ and ‘institutionalise’ learnings from the pandemic. This includes narratives like exhibitions, museums, plays and movies. While most movies on these themes are produced by Hollywood, other hubs like Bollywood may produce movies featuring the next Irrfan Khan as a doctor or migrant worker during coronavirus.
Building on the Star Wars structure of this DesignUp panel, we may say that we are in Episode IV (A New Hope). The lockdown is seen as a sign of a hope for flattening the curve, and to buy time for strengthening the healthcare system.
Episode V will truly be The Empire Strikes Back, as we emerge from lockdown and face the full brunt of the virus along with our own human viruses of fear and hate. Companies will struggle with economic hardships, and countries will play the blame game about who started the virus and who should pay compensation.
Episode VI, in that sense, will be not ‘The Return of the Jedi’ but ‘The Reinvention of the Jedi’ as we all reinvent ourselves and take our newfound strengths to new heights and frontiers. Reinvention will be at the level of individual, family, neighbourhood, community, province, nation, and indeed all of humanity.Also ReadCOVID-19 diary: A time to reinvent and reboot – experiences of an American expat in IndiaNext steps
The DesignUp community has a series of online events planned for the course of the year. “The recordings, slides, posts and other material from the May the Fourth event are all available online,” said Jay Dutta, SVP UX Design at MakeMyTrip, and Founder-Curator, DesignUp Festival, in a chat after the event with YourStory.
“Zoom tells us the highest attendee count at one point was 333, the average viewer count was 259. Twitter was abuzz, with three long threads and multiple offshoots,” he added. More resources and announcements are accessible via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Many online attendees shared insights in the online chat window as well. “Films in future might even start to portray 'normalcy' as reality becomes fiction,” joked Maanasi Shankar.
“I think there is one thing that a lot of us are not talking about, and that is the mental health of people during these times. We need to make sure we are all taking help and doing well,” urged Sneha Vachhaney.
It would be fitting to end this write-up with one more quote which Alysha Naples added to the discussion, by Kurt Vonnegut: “The most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
(Edited by Teja Lele)
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Original Source: yourstory.com