As we’ve all read a thousand times already, we are living in ‘unprecedented times’. We don’t know how long this situation will last or how things will be when it eases. Many will have to re-think how they do their roles in the coming weeks and, sadly, many are and will have to think about how they make a living.
At this point, if you are still fortunate to have a job, then I think the focus needs to be on how we can work effectively in this strange new situation. Working well in what we have to do now and strange as it sounds, continuing to develop your professional skills. If we do find ourselves in a situation where employment drops dramatically, those people with the best technical and ‘non-technical’ i.e. soft skills are more likely to retain their jobs or more easily find a new one.
Here’s what I’m advising my clients to do in these current times:
- Keep in touch with people
Whether contacts, prospective clients, clients or colleagues; isolation doesn’t have to mean no contact by phone or other method. Working well definitely involves relationships so it’s important to maintain and build them.
People may have more time or, if they are looking after children, more time where they can’t focus fully as they have family responsibilities. It means they might be more willing to have a chat on non-work topics, which helps to build rapport and the relationship. Do check though – if you are trying to chat to someone who has just popped their children in front of the TV and has one uninterrupted hour in which to do a day’s work, they won’t appreciate you ‘chatting’.
If you don’t already use technology such as Skype and Zoom, now is the time to learn how – seeing people makes all the difference, even for introverts.
- Create some structure.
Working well – effectively does require some organisation. Either you might not have enough work for the day or you are trying to juggle it with family commitments, such as homeschooling. Structure is essential.
Determine when you will work, then (unless there are domestic emergencies) stick to it. If you are now self-isolating and have family around, tell them your timetable and encourage them to respect it. Avoid the temptation to use this ‘work’ time for other activities such as responding to the banter and messages. But do factor in short breaks for banter, stretching, moving, checking anyone you live with is okay.
Perhaps you live alone or with adults or children who can self-amuse. It may be that boredom is an issue. Use your ‘work time’ to network online, and develop skills and knowledge you don’t normally have time for.
- Knock some items off your career ‘to do’ list
Some people are finding they have more time on their hands – you can use this to do tasks that would make your professional life and career go smoother. For example, update your LinkedIn profile, learn how to improve your Personal Impact, finish that online course.
Several of my clients are operating a shift system with their other halves of work / look after children. When they are ‘looking after the children’ they have a list of work tasks to do which it doesn’t matter if they are interrupted as they can easily be put down and picked up again.
These include updating CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, online-networking, expense form filling in, sorting out in-boxes etc.
If you’re in this situation too, make a list of all these interruptible tasks, ready to work through.
- Review your recent appraisals and other feedback and look at what you can do to work on those elements.
Even if you can’t take direct action now, make a plan for when things change. Workign well includes workign on your development points, as well as getting things done in the short-term.
- Reflect on how the current situation may change work in the future.
Whilst nobody knows for sure, consider what skills you might need to work on to be ready.
I hope these suggestions help you during your enforced time at home with the potential impact on your work life.
As I’m committed to supporting professionals in their careers – whatever the world is throwing at us – I have created some short 1 minute videos on building and maintaining professional relationships at this challengign time, you can watch them here.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.