Your job description changed during COVID. Now what?

Getting a new job or changes to your current job can be a great way to grow or retool. When you’re hired, the hiring party is likely to tell you what your job duties will be, what’s expected of you, and where it could potentially lead. In a normal world, this is expected and manageable; but things can change, and rather quickly. Especially during a pandemic.

For instance, let’s say you’ve been been hired by someone who was let go just weeks after you started. Your first worry is whether your job is safe; the second could be how the change impacts your job duties and responsibilities.

These types of changes happen often in the normal working world which can be struggling to grasp. Your job could totally change into something that you didn’t plan for, leading you to look elsewhere for new opportunities to find what you are looking for.

These changes aren’t limited to the office itself. The coronavirus pandemic has just about changed every way we work — and that even means what our job duties are.

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about how the pandemic has brought on new challenges to workers that exceed what they expected. Beyond the shift to remote working which uprooted any sense of physical work stability, the pandemic has challenged workers into adjusting into new roles to cover ground left in the office.

The report highlighted several industries where workers found themselves stretched into taking on new responsibility. Industries like white-collar and front-line workers obviously had their day-to-day shifted quiet a bit, especially earlier in the pandemic when non-essential businesses were closed and hospitals were operating at maximum capacity. Teachers had to adjust to remote learning in the middle of the school year, and a year later in the pandemic, many are continuing to have to teach both in-person and in a hybrid environment.

“Jobs have indeed expanded for many individuals, and what’s more, this expansion has often been done to individuals with no raises,” Pamela Perrewé, a professor of management at Florida State University, told The Journal. “And given the pandemic, most workers were very reluctant to complain or leave their jobs, because they’re still scarce in many fields. Workers are feeling a bit trapped.”

One teacher told the outlet that having to balance two kids at home while teaching remotely became too much due to the new demands of her job, which included “simultaneous hybrid teaching” that meant she had to prepare to teach two different classes — virtually and in-person. She quit her job in October.

These new remote duties have caused employees to work more than ever, logging hours that well exceeded the 9-to-5 expected in the physical office. It’s also been one of the driving forces of burnout, which has plagued workers during the pandemic.

The problem here is: how can workers push back without feeling they’re stepping over the line?

From the report:

“Sometimes you have to manage your bosses,” Dr. Perrewé suggests. She says workers should try to set boundaries about concrete things like schedules and hours before moving on to specific tasks that they’ve absorbed during remote work. The key to such discussions is keeping track of everything. “Make a list of what exactly it is that you do in a workday,” she says

Another suggestion: try being flexible with employees. One HR worker told The Journal that workers who are holding more responsibilities today may find it challenging getting the right compensation or title changed needed.

Trying to get your actual job description changed remains a worthwhile goal, says Jason Davis, who runs an HR advisory firm in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

“It follows you inside the organization,” he says. “It’s used for so much beyond hiring, like your salary and the teams you’re on.”

Nearly all HR managers, he says, ought to be amenable to refreshing job descriptions and titles at least once a year, as due diligence.