You are out of contract

In recent years, providers of services such as TV, phone, utilities and so on have moved to a fixed-term contract model. Usually the contracts run for 12-24 months.

An interesting thing happens when, for whatever reason, they make a significant change to the service: you are released from the obligations of the original contract, even if just for a period of 30 days or whatever.

The logic is clear: we made a deal based on a certain set of terms but now the terms have changed, we need a new deal.

This pandemic has changed the terms of your contract with the working world. You are now out of contract.

The terms of what you signed up for at the start of this year were based on norms that had evolved in the preceding decades. Those terms did not involve working entirely from your own home. They didn’t include also caring for children and other dependents once schools and care facilities shut. Being prevented from engaging with your colleagues and clients in person was not specified.

Given these disruptions in circumstances, we need a new contract.

This new contract involves a reset of expectations on both sides. 

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones. Maybe you’ve already found a new thriving equilibrium with your work, based on a set of new terms that works for all parties. If you are, you’re in a small minority.

Much of the “just get on with it” messaging has been rooted in a belief that the pandemic-related restrictions were short-term. But the more we learn, the less likely that appears. And even though you may now enjoy a pint or shop at Penneys, the more we emerge from our lockdown the more we realise we’re coming back to a different world.

So, it’s likely you have unfinished work on agreeing a new contract. And most of that work involves getting clear on what’s most important to you:

  • What work am I committing to?
  • Why am I doing this work?
  • How can I do this work while honouring my other obligations?
  • How can I do this in a way that is sustainable over the long term?
  • How can I do this so that I thrive and perform at my best, and avoid burnout and derailment?
  • How does my employer/customer need to adjust their expectations of me, in a way that’s beneficial for them?

The old terms are no longer available. Your professional future depends on agreeing terms that work in the new reality.


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.


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