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How to stay relevant when working from home

Young woman using laptop during breakfast at home
Don't let working from home set you back in your career. (Source: Getty)

I have some shocking news for you: we are in a time of crisis.

Yes, of course, you already knew that. In fact, you, your company, and the entire country have made changes in order to cope with it.

But here’s what you perhaps don’t know: those changes will only keep you afloat if you’re lucky. From here on in, status quo is the enemy and changing nothing else will only take you further behind.

When navigating times of crisis such as Covid-19, it’s natural that we first try to abate negative consequences and then move to a position of maintenance. After all, it’s the process our governments have taken (implementing various quarantine levels) as well as many individuals and companies.

In these unique instances where the world has been turned upside-down, success is rightfully celebrated in plugging the hole of a problem.

Stagnation is the enemy of progress

However, we are now months into the Covid-19 crisis and maintaining the status quo will no longer cut it. Rather than maintaining, we need to be expanding. Simply doing the same things over and over again as you work from home is reducing your perceived value and relevance to your employer and to your career.

With every day that passes, we are getting further and further behind. After all, consumer needs are still changing, the world is still moving, and we too must move forward to stay ahead. We simply cannot maintain the mindset that just “getting through this” is enough – because it’s not.

Look at it this way: if you had $5,000 in your bank account before Covid-19, maintaining the status quo means ensuring that you still have $5,000 in the bank account, the same time next year.

However, when we consider an inflation rate of approximately 2 per cent, this same $5,000 is really worth $4900 in 12 months’ time. It still looks like $5,000 but actually has $100 less buying power. Seems unfair, doesn’t it! But, that’s the way of the world.

The same reasoning applies to your professional progress. The world quickly and inevitably moves on, and your professional relevance must move with it – and it absolutely can. You must continue to grow, build and invest in yourself because maintenance is worthless.

The Covid-19 crisis won’t last forever. We will move past this. And so, you need to look forward and plan accordingly if you want to stay relevant. But how can you do this?

1. Be aware and have clarity of purpose

Ask yourself this: Where are you going? What do you want? What are you good at?

Clarity of purpose will ensure you are able to capitalise on the strengths you identify. Leaders are thinking forward so you must do the same. Look at where your strengths are vs what the company’s needs are, and consider what's coming up, what value you can add, or speak to your leader about how you can add more value in areas of strength. Remove their pain points and add value in those areas.

By doing so, you not only stay relevant for today but are also manifesting the promotion of tomorrow. And when I say manifesting, I don’t mean thinking or praying alone - you need to have a clear plan on how you will build value and take action.

2. Learning and growth

As Lou Holtz once said, “In this world, you're either growing or you're dying, so get in motion and grow.”

It’s easy to rest on your laurels and simply try to coast your way through life. It’s comfortable, especially during this time, to simply maintain a baseline of effort. However, if you want to succeed, you need to constantly be investing in self-growth. Embrace change, even if it is uncomfortable.

You’re saving time by working from home and no longer needing to travel into the office, so consider how you can better use the extra time you have. Maybe you’ll listen to a podcast every morning. Or perhaps you’ll start completing short courses.

It might even be as simple as digesting bite-sized bits of information by reading industry insights online or following some insightful social pages (like @theremarkablewoman). Whatever you do, make it part of your routine. The goal is to keep adding interest to your value. Soak up as much learning as you can – you will reap the benefits.

3. Be more holistic

Never have we been in a place where we are more holistically connected. It’s a time where companies and employees around the country are embracing work-life balance, as well as physical, mental, sexual, and spiritual health (and it’s about time!).

Covid-19 has in many ways accelerated the future of work to present times, giving you the opportunity to capitalise on all the holistic skills you have to offer.

Remember that there is so much more to you than your job title, so look beyond the technical skills that your role requires and ask yourself what else you can bring to your workplace. Add value and increase your relevance by communicating with others.

Share your leadership lessons and insights with your team. Be honest, transparent and talk about how you’re handling the new normal: How are you managing work-life balance? How are you managing homeschooling and WFH?

Doing so will allow you to connect with your team on a deeper level and form irreplaceable relationships. It will also help your team feel comfortable to be open too.

Maintaining your relevance takes work, but it’s also deeply fulfilling. After all, you owe it to yourself to touch the depths of your potential.

Shivani Gopal is the Founder and CEO of The Remarkable Woman; a women’s mentoring and leadership platform.

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