There are many ways home workers can pass the time during lockdown, from the hyper-focused, all-business, types annoying everyone else, to those bumbling along with their work or dodging it as much as possible. Anyone still with a job, or looking for a new career post-lockdown, can take some time to see how they and their colleagues or next business can work smarter or demonstrate a strong ethic.
The lockdown has left millions without a job, millions more wondering what the purpose of their career was, and many more realising that they could have been working from home for years. Whatever your situation, here’s 10 ways to stand out from the crowd when it comes to raising your profile as we come out of lockdown, demonstrating you were actively helping the business, and maybe shifting up the queue for a rise or better conditions.
1. Build up a remote team
Plenty of tech workers know all about Slack, Teams and other tools, but there are plenty of traditional workplaces where everything is still done by email or other quaint methods. These businesses are less likely to worry about shadow IT, and will happily tolerate workers finding smarter ways to collaborate and engage.
Anyone who takes the lead in exploring these tools, finding a way to apply them practically to your business and encouraging others to get on board should find their star shining slightly brighter when we come out the other side. Slack is primarily a communications tool but can work with Google Drive to help drive productivity and is the tool of choice for startups and companies seeking to get digitally efficient.
2. Automate customer queries with a chatbot
Businesses might be down, but there are still plenty of customers or prospects out there in need of information who can’t access company information through the usual channels. A chatbot posted on the front page of a website or messenger channel has multiple benefits. For a start with all the odd hours people are working, it is always available and can easily be updated with the latest information.
Building a chatbot doesn’t require coding skills or deep knowledge of cloud services, tools like the popular SnatchBot bot builder can be used by anyone to build a logical and helpful flow of information based on your typical customer conversations or interactions. Just make sure you leave a human point of contact if the bot can’t answer all queries, or someone simply needs to talk to a person.
Chatbots are already hugely popular for customer engagement and support, and will play a key role in all businesses soon. Getting on top of the technology now could give you a useful advantage when your company or a future employer wants to start rolling them out on a more formal basis.
3. Gamify the work day
Gamification is something larger companies use to create incentives to work and drive results, making hitting those targets more fun. While the goals might be slightly less mission-critical during COVID, teams and large can still use gamification to help people focus and keep their eyes on key tasks. From silly goals like first one dressed, or first to three coffees in the morning, using gamify tools can help put people in control of their day and give them some incentive to keep going.
Tools like Mambo.io can provide a way to keep people engaged, working for the business and meet their assertion that “Only 30 percent of employees are engaged, this leaves 70 percent who do not care for their colleagues, your customers or business.” Gamification can help workers increase their knowledge and improve performance, help them learn new skills or tasks and improve the overall health of your business, way beyond lockdown.
4. Automate work processes
As you’re stuck at home, have you found some of the things you do even more boring? Lots of people are finding those repetitive or seemingly redundant tasks even more of a drag. There are ways to automate these, from macros in a spreadsheet to robotic process automation (RPA) tools that can take some data, process it and move the results on without your involvement.
Encourage all your teams, colleagues or those further up the business to find tasks to automate and you can spend your time working on the more important functions of the business, spending more time on creative tasks or looking for fresh business, clients and ways to boost the business after things return to normal.
5. Get on the eLearning bus
For some, it is all too easy to sit back and watch the whole Coronavirus thing blow over, but at some point your boss, recruiters or other significant figures will ask, “what did you do to better yourself during that time?”
One really good answer is that you learned a bunch of stuff. It might be directly relevant to your current role or something you’d like to do in the future, it might help improve your skills or be something totally new. Either way, there are lots of experts providing courses and advice for free, there are online learning schemes providing free tuition.
Many encourage you to study for a brief period of time per day, so it won’t have a massive impact on your work or can be done in the plenty of spare time we have. From learning to code, to mastering a foreign language or deciphering the mystery arts of supply chain or other business areas, there is plenty we can all do to improve our knowledge and prospects, rather than flicking through the TV or YouTube channels.
Anyone of these useful skills could just be the thing that gets you noticed when work returns to normal, or in a future career move. None of them are mind-breakers or massively taxing to learn, and even a little bit of extra knowledge could be a great advantage to have in the coming months or years.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.