This week, nearly all 50 states began to lift COVID-19 restrictions on public spaces. There’s hope that the pandemic will be kept under control as leisure and tourism businesses pick up to help bolster the economy. In a recent poll, more than 77 percent of Americans surveyed said that they believe they will get their jobs back. During the last two months, over 33 million people were furloughed or lost their jobs as a result of the national public health emergency.
Angela Civitella, a certified business leadership coach who is the founder on Intinde (www.intinde.com), says there are eight things that will greatly help people stand out when competition for work is fierce. What pivots do you need to make in the new market that will help you stand out from everyone else? What do you need to focus on?
- Be a self-starter: Self-starters have always been looked on favorably by HR and management, but even more so these days. When you are working remotely and in isolation, you’re going to be on your own to figure out a lot of things. It’s okay not to have all the answers, but making the initiative and trying to solve problems on your own is something that all companies will really desire in their people.
- Focus on a differentiator: What makes you different from everyone else? Did you do an internship overseas? Know a second language? Volunteer in your community? Have an advanced degree? Whatever you have working in your favor, even if it may seem insignificant to you, might just be the thing that makes you stand out from everyone else. Focus on all the goods you bring.
- Be comfortable with virtual: Even as America starts to reopen, many employees are going to be working virtually for some time to come if not permanently. Get familiar with the technology that enables you to be the best remote worker you can. Be comfortable with video conferencing, attending virtual tradeshows and conferences, and the plethora of new apps and programs that allow you to communicate and work anywhere in the world.
- Take responsibility: Being responsible for your actions is good advice in general, and management will appreciate it now more than ever. When you are working remotely, no one is looking over your shoulder, and especially if you are at home, there are distractions everywhere. The traditional 9-5 doesn’t apply all the time, so you must be responsible to get your work done even if that means working in the evenings or on the weekends. You are still responsible for the quantity and quality of your work.
- Focus on building trust: When in-person contact with colleagues and customers is lost, so are key elements that build trust such as eye contact, body language, verbal cues, and handshakes. Building trust just became a little trickier, and it’s vital to meet deadlines, keep your promises, anticipate the challenges ahead, go above and beyond and be extra careful in your communication via text and email as things can easily be taken out of context.
- Show off your people skills: People skills have always been an important part of the job, but especially these days. As more of us are working remotely and spending time in isolation, human interaction is more important than ever. When you speak with your colleagues, managers, and customers, ask more personal questions that focus on their well-being such as: how are you doing through all of this? Is there anything I can help you with? Is there anything you would like to bounce off me around business or life? Being nice and showing respect is also more important than ever.
- Lend a hand to your coworkers who need help: Maybe you have adjusted rather well to remote work, but that might not be the case for all your coworkers. If you are caught up and have the time, offer to help any of your colleagues who might need a hand adjusting to the new norm. Or, offer to be a mentor for more junior associates. Your managers will appreciate your efforts.
- Communicate: You can’t just walk into the boss’s office, but you must continue to communicate. Don’t wait for people to come to you with questions. Be proactive and ask questions, check in on your teammates, make sure everyone is in the loop and on the same page. If communication fails, so too will everything else. Being a strong communicator is a vital part of remote work.