Due to the ongoing global Coronavirus pandemic, the role of office support professionals has changed dramatically, with the ‘office’ crucially now removed from the equation.
Working from home is a challenging prospect for EAs, PAs and office professionals alike, however, remote work can open doors that previously may have been shut. One of the most profound benefits of working from home is the extra time you have on your hands. Remove the commute from the equation, and you’re left with time - both in the morning and evening – which you can use to focus on yourself.
Whilst the initial temptation might be to binge-watch a series on Netflix, using this time for professional and personal development is easily one of the most fulfilling ways to increase your productivity in self-isolation. In this article, we give some tips on how you can fill your free time in a way that will benefit your career both in the short-term and the long-term.
Top tips on how to spend your extra time:
- Update your CV
- Online Courses
- Learn a Language
- Plan Ahead
- Project work
- Read up on the industry
Update your CV
Previously, this might not have been at the top of your to-do list, but updating your CV and any online profiles is a great use of your extra time. You may not be applying for jobs right now, but adding your most recent experience to your CV and matching the details to your online profiles will ensure that your professional presence is strong.
Make sure to fill out your online profiles with the correct information, as well as giving a detailed account of your work experience using bullet points and highlighting your key skills.
Creating strong online profiles can help in the short-term as well as the long-term, as it can help you realise which skills or interests you need to develop.
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re closed off to opportunities. There is a vast number of online courses that you can do to boost your skill set and expand your knowledge. If you’ve thought about it, there’s probably a course for it – you can find everything from Microsoft Excel refresher courses to Diplomas in HR practices. Notable sites include Udemy, FutureLearn, Skillshare and Coursera. They offer courses across a range of different industries, and there are now a number of courses being offered for free, so it is a great time to take your professional and personal development into your own hands. Find out more and compare these sites here.
Learn a Language
Whilst we’re on the subject of learning, developing your language skills is a highly worthwhile use of your time. Learning a new language is an important skill, and it's especially useful when you're a PA or EA. It’s never easy learning a brand new language from scratch, but platforms such as Babbel, Mondly and Duolingo offer fun and interactive ways to learn.
According to experts at LearnALanguageOnline.net, professionals who speak a second language have the potential to earn up to 10-15% more than their monolingual counterparts. You are also opening yourselves to potential new opportunities with international organisations or overseas, so it definitely can’t hurt to give it a go!
Podcasts are not only good for unwinding outside of working hours, but they can also be very educational and informative. PlayerFM features a podcasts of all different genres, and even has a list of Best Executive Assistant Podcasts as well as Best Work From Home Podcasts. However if you're not sure where to start, Being Indispensable with EA Liz Van Vliet and Rebecca Jarvis’ No Limits are definitely a worthy introduction.
Another useful podcast is the ‘Knowledge is Power’ Oriel Partners podcast, in which co-founder Olivia Coughtrie interviews several successful PAs across a variety of industry sectors. They share industry knowledge, explain how they got to where they are and talk about the skills required to succeed in their roles.
Planning for things in the long-term might seem a little impossible right now, but you can bring a greater sense of purpose to your day by creating a plan of how you will approach individual tasks. Instead of jumping straight into a task, use this extra time to plan how you will approach it, brainstorm possible routes to take and make note of tools and resources that might be needed along the way.
Time is of the essence in a PA or EA role, so you will likely already be very familiar with the importance of planning. With more time on your hands, you can adopt a more thorough approach to your tasks, which will benefit not only the quality of your work, but your own wellbeing. It’s all about creating a structure for your day which will help to boost morale when working from home.
You can help to improve your efficiency as a remote assistant by downloading task management apps and other project planning software. Useful programmes include Time Doctor and Status Hero, which long-term Virtual Assistant Ellena Ingles credits to help her stay on track.
If you feel like you have more time to spare, this is an excellent opportunity to take on new projects. Whilst working from home, it is especially important to prove that you’re invaluable. This recent adaptation from office to remote working comes with a lot of opportunity for you to identify challenges and try to provide a solution, for example, process efficiency and communication.
Propose ideas to your boss that you’re passionate about, and own these projects. These could be anything from improving internal communication to safeguarding mental health. Take the time to really get to know the needs of your boss and the wider business. This brings us onto our next point…
Read up on the industry
What better way to spend your time than gaining a better understanding of the industry you work in? Being aware of recent insights or news surrounding key industry trends will not only give you a newfound investment and motivation, but it will also build your authority within your team. It shows that you’re not just doing your job, but that you’re approaching your role from a career-minded standpoint.
News sites, blogs, magazines and trade papers are a good first point of call to brush up on your knowledge. Joining related groups on social media is also beneficial.
As well as the broader industry trends, read up on your own company too. Take this as an opportunity to learn as much about the business, and your boss, as possible. For example, whilst your boss might have been flying internationally to attend meetings, now these will all be done via telephone or online. Offer to take minutes in the meeting if you can, it’s certainly a lot easier to dial in rather than buy a plane ticket! This represents an excellent way to develop a greater understanding – so take advantage of it whilst it’s still an option.
Whether this is by joining online forums or groups, reaching out to former colleagues or new contacts and leads, networking is key for staying on top of your game. Use this time to develop new connections and build a good rapport with industry professionals. Everyone is in the same boat in terms of self-isolating, so it’s likely that people will be more open to forming professional relationships than ever.
Maintaining relationships with existing colleagues and contacts is just as important as building new ones. Taking the time to check in on your peers is essential – not just from a business perspective but also for boosting morale. During tough times, keeping yourself connected and reaching out to others is key for maintaining motivation.
Make sure to stay tuned to the SecsintheCity careers blog, as over the next few months we’ll be sharing more tips and about working remotely as an EA, PA or office support professional.
Are you currently working at home as a PA or EA? We’d love to hear your stories, so feel free to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experiences and tips.
Are you currently trying to juggle parenting with working from home? Whether you have toddlers prone to temper tantrums or teenagers struggling to adapt to separation from their friends, sign up to Lemon-Aid today to receive free daily family lockdown tips directly to your email inbox.