For most of us, work is essential. Some consider their jobs as their means to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads. Some want to go through the motions and get by, others want to excel. Others find their identities in the work they perform.
Have you asked yourself recently how essential you are to your company? Are you the employee who would be hard to replace if you left your job, or are you the nice person who means well but is not productive enough to keep on payroll in an economic crisis? Do you exceed expectations or is your attitude underwhelming? Is your career your 9-5 focus, or is it your cellphone?
This is a good time for a candid professional self-evaluation. Are there skills you can learn in or outside your job to enhance your value and your income? Or would you rather go home and watch Netflix? Do you ask for a raise by listing your accomplishments and value to your employer? Or do you ask for a raise because you have showed up for a year, mostly on time?
While some essential staff may lose their jobs in hard hit industries, other companies that have avoided furloughs will be faced with deciding who to keep and who to lay off. Many employers and employment attorneys I have spoken with say they are leery of some staff working at home and taking advantage of the reduced scrutiny. If you were truly considered essential, most likely that would not be your employer's concern.
The common refrain you hear is everyone wanting to "get back to normal." I contend that "normal" left the building. The new normal will center on productivity. Now more than ever, it's time to assess where you are as an employee and how to shape your future as an essential and sought-after worker.