An era of instability, loss and confusion can potentially lead to a more positive outlook for many people, says Northcoders’ Jonny Rathbone

Nothing like this has ever happened before. This is an era of instability, fear, loss and confusion, but the sheer sense of community and the coming together of people has been a constant source of inspiration and comfort for many.

The term ‘new normal’ was a mere throwaway comment just a few short months ago. We do not know what the immediate future holds, but whatever happens the world will never quite be the same again.

This awakening and realisation have impacted us all in many ways; from how we think of our friends and family, how we treat the world around us, to how we want to come out of this as individuals. I have been heartened to both read and hear so many people’s aspirations about being kinder to each other and the environment – but also to themselves.

The lockdown has given us a unique perspective and time to reflect on what we actually want out of life and what is important to us. Change for the better is possible.

Having the ability to invest in ourselves and dedicate time to whatever makes us happy; from crafting, gaming and exercise to cooking, reading and learning has caught the national psyche. I have two children, and while I cannot claim it has been a smooth ride, I cannot deny the blessing of stepping out of work and having them immediately there instead of at the end of a stuffed thirty-minute train ride.

Having that space has also allowed a lot of us to self-reflect and consider what we truly want out of life and our careers. According to Investors in People, one in three of the UK’s population are unhappy in their current role or industry.

There are, of course, a plethora of reasons to not enjoy your job; lack of stimulation, poor pay or no sense of progression. But what being in lockdown and on furlough have enabled for the first time ever is a window of time.

Our lives are busy, but since March 23rd, many of us have had more opportunity to reassess our long-term aspirations and goals – some of us have been forced to.

There has never been a bad time to invest in yourself or your future. Over the past four years, we have worked with hundreds of people who have decided to change their lives for the better. A big part of our job is to help people realise their true potential by teaching them how to code and start their journey as a software developer.

Most have no coding experience, so we can all learn a lot from their bravery, commitment and dedication. I still get a massive kick when we know we’ve helped the likes of new parents looking to return to work, school leavers, delivery drivers, lawyers or retail workers who knew what they wanted and invested in a brighter future.

I have some empathy for those who take the leap to switch careers, but this is always a unique decision built on a unique set of circumstances. We all get stuck in ruts and feel we are trapped in our own routines, but now should be the time where what is important to us comes to the fore.

It does not matter how old you are, what your gender is, whether you are a student, have worked for one year or 40 years or are considered skilled or unskilled by society. It is about being truly happy in life. If anything good comes out of this pandemic, then using it to elicit change must be at the top of the list.

This is not just good for the individuals who are upskilling or reskilling – it is also good news for our communities, businesses and the economy. The digital skills shortage is very well documented – especially around coding – so the surge in learning that we are seeing will add more people with the crucial skills that will help companies to actually weather the storm and come out the other side stronger.

The world of work has changed, and I predict that many of these new practices will be here to stay as employees may well shun public transport and demand a potentially better work/life balance. Companies have also quickly learnt what can be achieved through remote working. The long-held scepticism that it is about skiving and watching daytime TV has been blown out of the water.

As software developers, we have known that for a long-time, but the wider world is now finally catching up and realising that seamless remote working can be good for business and for society.

Meanwhile, upskilling is a great way to build greater satisfaction as well as greater security for individuals and their families – but it also sets an example for others to follow. In fact, we find that nearly half of the people that learn to code and change career with Northcoders hear about us from a friend or family member. That is people power in itself.

To sum up: positive change spreads quickly and inspires others. If we all pull together around that mantra in every aspect of our lives, then our world post-lockdown might just be a brighter place than before.