Frank Burtnett
Dr. Frank Burtnett is the former President of Education Now, an independent consulting firm headquartered in Springfield, Virginia and Rockport, Maine. Since 1995, he has served as the principal consultant to NAPS on certification, accreditation, credentialing and educational matters. He was recently elected to the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the professional development of search and staffing industry consultants. Frank is a counselor, educator, consultant, and author whose career has been dedicated to educational and career development issues, as well as service to the profession through management roles in professional counseling organizations. Today, he serves as an adjunct professor on the counselor education faculty of Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. His most recent publication, Career Challenges, examines the things people “do wrong” and “don’t do” in their quest for career satisfaction, work life after COVID and life–work balance. Two earlier youth and young-adult oriented guidebooks concentrated on the school-to-college and education-to-work transitions. Frank earned a BS in education at Shippensburg University and an MA and an EdD in counseling at George Washington University. Frank Burtnett invites career questions to answer in his new Q&A on EMinfo. Submit to Frank at ednow@aol.com His book Career Challenges was published by the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. You can order his book: Career Challenges here > https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475868081/Career-Challenges-Straight-Talk-about-Achieving-Success-in-the-Technology-Driven-Post-COVID-World-of-Work-3rd-Edition

The Future of the American Workplace: Changes and Challenges Part 2

  By Frank Burtnett  |    Tuesday November 30, 2021

In my last installment of the Career Mechanic (September 2021), the focus was on how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the American workplace and work structure to the point that employees returning from remote work situations or extending on in a virtual relationship will be forced to make personal adjustments of indeterminable proportions. The number and intensity of those adjustments will be dictated by the individual’s personal workstyle and their ability to adapt to a work environment that has changed over the past two years. 

Even those who will continue to work remotely in some capacity will have to adapt to any post-Covid impact once it finally occurs. Future workforce members will have less adjusting to do as the work environment they enter will be one that will have settled before their arrival.

This installment of the Career Mechanic will address a number of those changes and challenges from the individual employee or worker perspective, keeping in mind that no list of this nature should ever be considered complete or exhaustive. Others are certain to require comparable consideration.

The lessons learned over the past two years suggest that members of the post COVID19 workforce will likely face potentially all of the following changes and challenges, each requiring some form of personal adjustment:

Knowledge acquisition and skillset mastery will be more pronounced

Lifelong learning has been a common element in the contemporary workplace for more than a generation, but one of the most significant lessons learned from the COVID19 experience was how much and how fast workers have had to identify, learn and become competent at new things. Worker performance, productivity and in the end, accountability, will be directly linked to one’s keeping on top of the emerging knowledge mastering the skillsets needed for maximum functioning

Ability to work independently will be a valuable asset

To the extent that remote working will represent a larger segment of the American occupational models, workers are going to have to find improve and extend their effectiveness at working independently and contributing remotely to cooperative initiatives. Concurrently, they will need the master any and all communications skills required of their employment.

Virtual teams will call for a different mindset

The good team member, for example, who relied previously on the verbal exchanges with colleagues in the coffee room or around the water cooler must now be able to maximize what now must be generated by virtual teams and the different form of human interface they present. Similarly, relationships between managers and their subordinates may need to be reconstructed. Skills learned in social media interfaces may be applicable here. 

Technology mastery will grow in importance

Another lesson learned throughout the coronavirus pandemic experience and one that is certain to linger is our ability to learn to use and employ the emerging technology. From the process required to seek and secure employment to the everyday tasks of a significant portion of the working population, technology plays are larger role today than ever and mastery of it must be a major ingredient in their immediate and future skillset.

Time management adjustments are inevitable

The “when” of the employee’s world is likely to have been altered during the past two years especially for those engaged largely in remote working and any return to in-person work will require some form of readjustment. Where roles and responsibilities have changed, a new “modis operandi” may need to be established once the final rebuilding blocks of the work operation are put in place to ensure maximum production and performance.

Life and work balance may require a fresh examination

The work-life balance seekers that are so prevalent in the younger generation of workers may need to be reconsidered or retrofitted in light of the changes that have occurred in American workers, and workplaces. The results of this assessment may vary from minor adjustments needed to entire career makeovers. 


It is certain that personality differences are going to play a role in how the American workers adjusts to the above circumstances or the extent to which one or multiple of these elements will cause career problems or disruption. The more one faced with change and challenged looks at the future as a “glass half full,” the more likely they will be successful at negotiating those adjustments. 

Should undue anxiety and or stress appear during this crossover, mental wellness must become paramount objective for the individual, one she/he should take very seriously. Depending on this analysis, anything from a career makeover to the development of a fresh set of coping skills might be in order.



© Education Now, 2021 

The Career Mechanic is a treatment of a career development issue or problem by Frank Burtnett, Ed.D, an educator, counselor, author, and consultant.  Dr. Burtnett has served as the Certification and Education Consultant to the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) since 1995.  Topics are drawn from his popular book, Career Errors: Straight Talk About the Steps and Missteps of Career Development, Second Edition (2019) and other writings.

To learn more about Career Errors visit: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475848410.  EMInfo readers can receive a 20% discount by inserting RLEGEN2020 when prompted for a discount code. 

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