Preparing for life post-COVID-19

This article is part of the guide Remote Working during COVID-19, How to ride out the coronavirus outbreak.

Although it might feel like it right now, this COVID-19 crisis thankfully won’t go on forever.

You therefore need to be preparing now for life after the crisis.

Millions of companies have been forced to embrace remote working, which will create all sorts of opportunities, but only if you’re prepared to stand out from the competition and grasp them.

So in this article we’re looking at the tips we’ve been sent from our global freelance community about how to prepare for life after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Mindset

Getting yourself in the right headspace now will be key to making the most of remote working opportunities post-COVID-19. Here are some tips to give you a head start on your competition:

  • Whilst everyone else is on the defence, get on the offence. Your flexibility is your power. Be adaptable and try to be a resource for your clients. Show them how they can tighten their belts and be efficient and they will thank you for it with more opportunities.
  • Understand that even as the pandemic subsides, there will be long-term ramifications financially and culturally. Start. developing new skills now.
  • Be generous and share tips and apps that help. You never know how someone who benefits from your tips could help you.
  • The remote working culture is likely flourish after the crisis. List out the supply and demand bottlenecks now and find solutions for them so you can get ahead of the pack.
  • Make use of the efficient practices you have developed during isolation, and be grateful for the normality post-crisis.
  • Be aware of others needs, both in your personal and professional communities. You never know when you might need them.
  • Re-fresh your portfolio – what projects have you worked on which really show off your skills?
  • Utilize mobile applications that allow you to grow your network. Many language apps have the option to interact with people from around the world which will allow you to learn how to communicate with people from different cultures, learn about what impact this is having on lives internationally, and how they prefer to conduct business. This is not a way to promote yourself, but a good training method for working in the age of globalization.
  • Understand that even as the pandemic subsides, there will be long-term ramifications financially and culturally. Be flexible. Develop new skills. Be prepared to lose clients and then be drowning in demand. Network with other freelancers. Share tips and apps that help. And hang in there.
  • Your flexibility is your power. Be adaptable and try to be a resource for your clients.
  • Be active, there will be a lot of people seeking work and also a lot of it.
  • Be optimistic and enthusiastic and make sure you are continually questioning yourself on what they truly you want to do in life, what makes you happy. Cultivate a curiosity of “Why” regarding your decisions (e.g. Why do I want to do what I want to do?)
  • “Write a diary to put things into perspective, and remember these difficult times later when things get bad again.
    Collaborate and get work going, look at things with a fresh eye”.

Leverage Opportunities

  • Prepare to weather the storm now and ready yourself or team for a push after. This will likely pass, and as long as you are leveraging technology now to remain afloat, you will be even better in the other side of this health crisis.
  • Look for the many gear and computer deals happening now to upgrade or get the new piece of tech you may need. Make sure you have your creative software solutions ready and paid for as well as make sure any files you had to work on in a non-mainstream software will be converted back for use in the native software. Email clients that you may have a backlog due to this event.
  • Many freelancers are already doing a lot (or all) of their business online. However, if you’re a freelancer who has tended to work with more in-person clients, or who relies on in-person networking events, start acclimating yourself to all the digital tools at your disposal. Find online job boards and networking communities that are relevant to your field. Look into digital business card apps. Make sure you have a website that’s up and running!

Workflow

  • Maintaining good communication with your clients, as the competition to find a job will increase, so holding on to the people you already work with is a good strategy.
  • Think of how you can offer your gifts, services, and products in a creative and virtual format. How can you diversify what you offer so that you don’t rely on just one or two revenue streams? Consider how you can do your life and work in a more efficient way. What expenses are unnecessary? Staying lean and mean keeps you flexible and resilient.
  • Save as much money as you can. Cut operational costs, store all work and work in progress files in the cloud so they’re accessible by clients at any time from anywhere in the world.
  • Obviously, the economy will take a huge hit from this. In preparation for this, it is good to look far ahead. I would start preparing about a year in advance for opportunities to freelance. If you begin to document your personal productivity during the period you’re in of remote work, you can see what works for you and begin implementing those strategies to make you more efficient and valuable to companies later on. Keep track of things that work best for you.
  • Be prepared for an increase in new processes and backed up work load.
  • Don’t make drastic and unsustainable changes to your workflow. Be flexible, but don’t try to overhaul your whole routine. The world will get back to normal soon.
  • Let’s face it, this is the way the world is going… remote is how we’ll all be working eventually. I would say take this opportunity to get good at it, because it won’t be long before that’s the norm. Also take some time to see the upsides – no travel time to work, fewer interruptions and distractions. There are lots of positives to remote working.
  • Check all your work contracts in case of potential delays and check longer term deadlines to ensure they will be reached.
    Start to build lists of potential clients post-crisis so you can be first to contact them.

Finances

  • Figure out a sustainable lifestyle budget to carry you through any potential recession. Project # of hrs needed to work to meet that budget. Factor in 30-90 day payment on invoices. Work on a savings fund to be able to go without work for 6 months to a year in case of any crisis.
  • Factor in 30-90 day payment on invoices. Work on a savings fund to be able to go without work for 6 months to a year in case of any further COVID-19 crises.
  • Take stock of your finances and professional strengths that could be transferable in case you need to shift your area of focus to meet different needs in the market. Cut back on unnecessary expenses, but don’t be afraid to invest in a tool or software that could give you an edge later. If you can, put extra money into savings in case you take an income hit. But also consider giving something to support those who are less fortunate.

Technology

  • If you are a ‘visual creative’, try to make sure you you’re at the cutting edge in terms of hardware and software resource – reliable computer(s), applications to do any job (i.e. if you don’t have the Adobe license, look for alternatives, such as the Affinity Suite.) It might mean spending money, but it is essential to be well equipped and updated where possible.
  • After COVID-19, make sure you’re fully informed of the myriad online tools there are to search for remote work, track payments and project progress.
  • Be on the look out for new remote working tools in the coming years as people who haven’t worked remotely before have new ideas now that they are experiencing it.

Marketing

  • Contact all your clients, let them know you’re still available (or if you’re not – advise of that as well). If you don’t have as much work – do all those marketing activities that you’ve put off or have on a one-day list. Update your website, look at your profiles on freelance sites and add new portfolio pieces, improve your copy on your profile or website, create a FB page or instagram, blog, podcast etc. Schedule a few months of social media posts in advance. Get an email outreach campaign ready. Things will recover, so be ready for it.
  • Strengthening online presence as much as possible and also try to share work recommendations with other lesser known freelancers.
  • Document your journey.
  • Keep social media engagement active and constantly interacting with clients and potential clients during the crisis. Resonating with how people are feeling during this trying period. People will remember you after everything.
  • If you don’t have as much work – do all those marketing activities that you’ve put off or have on a one-day list. Update your website, look at your profiles on freelance sites and add new portfolio pieces, improve your copy on your profile or website, create a FB page or instagram, blog, podcast etc. Schedule a few months of social media posts in advance. Get an email outreach campaign ready. Things will recover, so be ready for it.
  • Now more than ever customer relationships are vital, so go above and beyond for your clients so you’re more likely to get referrals. Contact all your clients, let them know you’re still available (or if you’re not – advise of that as well).
  • Well, Get going promoting and meeting people again. Be it Digitally or Physically present!
  • Keep social media engagement active and constantly interacting with clients and potential clients even past the end of the crisis. Resonating with how people are feeling during this trying period. People will remember you for it.
  • As many freelancers will be fearful, start meeting with new and existing clients onsite to cultivate better relationships.

Organisation

You have a lot of time to think over your freelance business right now, but all of these exciting ideas floating around in your mind are worthless if you don’t come up with strategies to implement them. Here are some tips to sharpen your processes to make sure you come out on top post-COVID-19.

  • Whilst you’re experimenting with remote working right now, take notes on what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you have your rhythm set, you’ll be able to continue on in the future. You’ll also be able to educate clients on your process to assure them that you are a pro at working from home.
  • Be aware that no matter the situation, in remote work communicating regularly and effectively, and managing your time responsibly are always important qualities to possess. You will have to be self-generating and flexible, whether that’s in terms of your schedule or learning new tools quickly, but those abilities will translate effectively into any position.
  • Get going promoting and meeting people again. Become digitally and physically present and soon as it’s safe to do so!
  • Maybe if you can’t get orders, you should offer something by yourself using something you’re good at
  • Engage with your clients now – ask about their contingency and continuity plans, and if they’re likely to affect your work with them long term.
  • When you’re off the clock, REALLY give yourself permission to go back to your normal life! Just because you’ve had to bring your work home doesn’t mean it has to preoccupy your mind!
  • Focus on creating real value. There are lots of people and companies who need your expertise to build and/or rebuild, and most can pay – don’t be greedy, as exploiting desperate clients will come back to haunt you.
  • Prepare a plan of action that is sustainable for both you and your clients. This includes your daily schedule and hours. It is important to set work boundaries and hours of available contact early on in your transition to working remotely. Often people will think that you are available for other activities during work hours, and this can be problematic.
  • Take notes on what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you have your rhythm set, you’ll be able to continue on in the future. You’ll also be able to educate clients on your process to assure them that you are a pro at WFH.

Education

Use your time in isolation wisely. We all have many dimensions we can improve in and we’re all incredibly lucky to have resources at our disposal that our ancestors could never have believed we possible! Here’s some tips for up-skilling yourself to massively increase your value post-COVID-19:

  • Learn from what works and doesn’t work in situations like this for you. Try to figure out the things that make you more productive when you’re working remotely (e.g. times of day, physical space, frequency of breaks). Become a more professional freelancer: hone your skills in personal time management, client communications, invoicing, contracting, sharing and collaboration.
  • Upskill now! Look at your skills and how you can enhance or expand them so you have more to offer. Now more than ever customer relationships are vital, so go above and beyond for your clients so you’re more likely to get referrals. 
  • They should get equipped with the tools needed to streamline and organize their work, try to really schedule out their weeks (i.e. block off time to eat/workout, etc.). Also realise there are tons of online communities and way to connect with others to combat feelings of isolation.
  • If it’s new for you then be optimistic for a new experience, if it’s not then it’s business as usual I guess. There’s a freedom and a sense of confinement that comes from working at home. Try to focus on the former.
  • Keep all of your networking connections. You never know when they will need you again.
  • Obviously, the economy will take a huge hit from this. In preparation for this, it is good to look far ahead. I would start preparing about a year in advance for opportunities to freelance. If you begin to document your personal productivity during the period you’re in of remote work, you can see what works for you and begin implementing those strategies to make you more efficient and valuable to companies later on. Keep track of things that work best for you.
  • Look for mentors who have experience working remotely in these sectors. Many people who have been doing this for years are happy to meet for a video call or to chat on occasion in order to promote upward mobility for those who do not have the same resources available to them socially or financially.
  • Understand that even as the pandemic subsides, there will be long-term ramifications financially and culturally. Be flexible. Develop new skills. Be prepared to lose clients and then be drowning in demand. Network with other freelancers. Share tips and apps that help. And hang in there.
  • Getting in touch with freelancers who already work in remote and learn some techniques, apps and methodologies.
  • We’re all in the same boat, keep your portfolios updated, and maybe learn some new skills while we are all at home, courses on skill share, or a new software like blender or maybe try coding?
  • Upskill – now! Look at your skills and how you can enhance or expand them so you have more to offer. For many freelancers, post-COVID-19 could be really be an opportunity to grow as more companies will look for create remote teams. Having to deal with a stressful situation like this isolation due to the pandemic will have proven your autonomy as a remote worker – so be proud of that.
  • Spend this time in isolation researching future oriented skills.
  • Learn to use open source software and either free tutorials on youtube or affordable ones on Udemy to hone in on your skill sets since many businesses will be looking to work with new individuals/businesses. You can also brush up on your business knowledge for free online, such as by reviewing this useful site of small business resources by Mike Gingerich. It’s important to have something to offer clients that others were not able to provide with better execution.

We got this information out as quickly as possible and will be updating it over the coming days and weeks. If you have any other tools you want to add, please comment below or contribute to the cause and give your advice on remote working.

Joe Scarffe

Joe Scarffe

Joe is the CMO at Twine.

When he’s not moaning about the state of the music industry or public transport in Manchester, he works with the Twine community and handles social media, the blog and partnerships with companies and institutions.