Categories
Careers Flexible Working Output Recruitment

The 3 Ts of Productivity – Task, Time and the One that Everyone Forgets About

We generate endless to-do lists for our work and personal lives.

Tasks are logged.

Calendars ensure we do not embarrassingly double book. The latest apps are available with features to mark milestones and keep us on track.

So why are we not always as efficient as we could be? Because tasks and time are not the only part of the productivity mix.

The missing ingredient

We overlook the element that smashes our procrastination, slays our negative thoughts and rejuvenates our weariness. Louis Pasteur, whom we have to thank for immunizations and pasteurized milk, once stated,

Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Tenacity is the incredible ability to carry on in the face of challenges, the force that brings us our hard-won triumphs. If the road seems endless and we are running on empty, it is the stubbornness to persist that’s the real driver of success. But the problem with tenacity is that we do not have it all of the time. Levels fluctuate and sometimes erratically.

What eating radishes teaches us

There is no limitless well of tenacity in the same way that there is no infinite source of energy (we all need to sleep).

In the now infamous cookie test, Roy Baumeister placed two groups of volunteers in a room with a batch of tempting, delicious-smelling cookies and some radishes. One group could eat the yummy cookies whilst the other could only munch on the tangy and comparatively less satisfying veg. After a while, the volunteers were given complex tests. The group that had to resist the cookies gave up on problems more easily.

The take-away from this experiment, asserts Baumeister, is that the radish participants used up a part of their store of mental energy in resisting the sweet treats. Their willpower or tenacity was depleted.

A state of mind and a muscle

Tenacity may be seen not solely a state of mind to be summoned at will but a muscle that, when over-used, gets tired and drained. This is a factor that impacts on the productivity of one’s work and personal life. So, what changes can be made?

Top 5 techniques to turbocharge your tenacity

1. Goal focus – It’s inevitable that we have to face up to energy zapping tasks. You may need to chase invoices – again. Despondency sets in. But think instead that this is just one more step to your objective of having as successful business. When things can get dreary, overarching goals are motivators. Seeing the bigger picture will help you get through the smaller, arduous tasks.

2. What is this costing me? – you may put off tasks or do them slowly or less effectively. Ask yourself what this approach is costing you. Energy? Time loss? An unhappy state of mind? Is this the way you want things to be? In order to avoid these negativities, a tenacity boost can perk you up. Sticks are as much motivators as carrots.

3. Flexibility – flexible working has myriad advantages and one of these is being able to fit in your work around your mood. You can move tasks around when you are best able to do them or when you have the most energy to go full pelt. Reschedule for potential.

4. Learn from the past – Think back to all those times when you felt you couldn’t do something but did it anyway. What were the triggers that kept you going? Consider the qualities that you demonstrated at that point and heed them. Those characteristics have not disappeared, even though it feels that way sometimes, and they are still a part of you. Think about your qualities.

5. Quick fixes – There are various ways to encourage tenacity to take root even if you feel overwhelmed. Practising mindfulness soothes a jittering mind. Relaxation techniques ease tension out of the body and they only take a few minutes. A short but brisk cardio-pumping walk cracks stagnation. Devise your own tenacity playlist and turn up the volume on music that is pitch perfect for you.

Does it really work in practice?

From the whole Find Your Flex team, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”. We operate completely flexibly and are encouraged to engage when suits us best. We adopt an output based attitude rather than concentrating on set hours and rigid employment structures. This is an empowering approach for us all to reach our targets but in our own personal and most effective way. We have tried it and we can say that it works.

Your mental power tool is tenacity

Task and time remain the building blocks for effective diary management. You absolutely need to define what needs to be done and how long it will take – especially if you are charging yourself and your skills out to make a profit. Nonetheless it is possible to alter your mindset to give it a boost and replenish your reserves.

To enhance your own “Output” and to get more out of your day, use ways to tap into your tenacity.

It is an oft forgotten innate power tool – One that you can use to drill deep for success.

Categories
Automation Career Change Career Returners Career Returners Careers Digital Skills Students and Graduates Technology Industry

Tech Skills and Flexible Working

From FREE tech bootcamps to employment brilliance……………….

Skills City & Host Manchester are hosting tech courses, fully funded by the Department for Education, to empower women in the North West to find inspiring flexible careers and to help level the playing field when it comes to gender equality.

Find Your Flex is partnering with Skills City and Host in Media City, in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, to help women in this region to gain qualifications and new skills and to turbocharge female representation in the tech industry. For some of the courses, no experience is required. We know that women have the ability to be the future leaders in tech.

What do you want to be?

This general question is asked of girls when they grow up and again as women later in life. The answers may be limited and gender-bound.

Today we can ask any gender, very different questions.

Would you like to become a cyber analyst and protect society and your family from the rise of cyber-fraud?

Perhaps you are excited about building your own app or software to launch that brilliant new business idea you have?

Are you a creative graphic designer with 3D skills that you would like to take to the new level? Perhaps you want to work for a company that didn’t exist 10 years ago but has since revolutionised TV & Film and soon to do the same with Gaming? Ever fancied a career at Netflix?

If so, the opportunity is right here to take that step forward and realise your aspirations. Skills City will give you the tools, the support and the confidence to forge a fascinating career.

Women in tech

The statistics in tech are dismaying – it’s male dominated with a low percentage of engagement from women. Just 19% of the UK tech workforce is female.

Why aren’t there more women in tech in 2021?

It starts early when girls are given dolls to play with whilst boys have Meccano sets to build and create models. These boys may have grown up to become men who believe they can build and create. They feel confident of their ability to build ‘stuff’.

Women are fed a narrative that focuses on being caring and nurturing and capable of organising a household. Then as adults we face guilt about being a working mother (the motherly stereotype most 30-something plus women today witnessed didn’t include Mothers handling Zoom meetings, deadlines and a toddler under their feet. We’ve grown up believing we are particularly suited to certain ‘types’ of employment.

But the reality is that women have many qualities that are well suited to a tech career.

Intelligent and probing minds, a love of problem solving, strategic thinking and a laser focus on finding solutions and the art of collaboration.

It’s time tech truly tapped into female potential

Our current world has been built by men for men – and it’s time for change!

Digital technology is critical to all our lives in terms of access to education, culture, health, leisure, employment and entrepreneurship.

But that world so far has been largely built by men without the full and necessary input of the other 50% of our population.

Unicef, highlighting the gender digital divide, states that digital products and services need to be designed for women as well, instead of using the male view of systems and tech platforms, as the gender default.

As Unicef continues, “women are left out of co-creation, design and product testing.”

We need diversity at all levels, to address this fundamental problem.

Our world is changing.

Do you want to be a part of shaping it to be more gender neutral and fair?

You don’t need a stellar academic education or be the next tech whizz kid.

You just need to have an interest in the new opportunities inspired by tech – honestly there’s nothing more to it.

Tech as a game changer

Tech’s importance as the largest game-changer in terms of its ability improve the way we live, work and become available to more opportunities is exponential.

Jobs that historically have required the human touch (retail, hospitality, customer services, sales) are increasingly becoming automated and that rise is inexorable.

We need all pivot to some degree if we are to have the tools we require for our future world of work, and the way we interact and flourish within in it.

The aim of the Skills City initiative is to ensure that women from all backgrounds are trained up and fired up to access a wealth of opportunities to get fulfilling and flexible employment.

Tech is not only a game changer in how we interact with digital products.

It is a social game changer too.

There is huge scope for people from non-traditional backgrounds to take a leap forward in terms of earnings potential.

Jobs are well paid (mid tech is around £40k-60k) and this can help narrow the gender pay gap.

It’s an amazing chance for women retuning to the workplace after a career break and offers a myriad of opportunities for people with disabilities as remote working can be the norm.

Opportunity knocks

Women are just as capable as men with dealing STEM but are less likely to engage in that field in the first place. A lack of familiarity of what opportunities are out there may be a factor. There may be a presumption of a lack of flexibility in work patters. A dearth of confidence to participate in a male-dominated industry may also play a role.

That needs to change.

We would say take every chance you are given to find out because your perfect career may be waiting for you to discover it. The demand is there, the jobs are there, now we need trained human input. That person could be you and you could be more suited to a career in tech than you may initially assume. This is why government is running courses like this with the aim of make a social shift in how women approach tech.

Being a cyber analyst, for example, is about much more than sitting with a keyboard. It is about protecting people, often those whom we care about most. Cyberfraud is on in the increase, as is hacking, scamming and cyber-bullying. Our personal data and our finances are at risk and need continual protection. Women are just as capable as men of providing that sword and that shield.

Flex your tech

The rise of tech can also be linked to the rise in flexible working.

Set aside the stereotype of inflexible hours.

You are not bound to a particular location or to a designated 9-5, clock-on and clock-on regime. There is scope for you to mould your work around the rest of your life. This is particularly helpful for women who bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to housekeeping, childcare and caring for elderly relatives.

Before you now lies a fascinating chance to create a balanced life.

As the Harvard Business Review points out It’s a chance for women to shape the communities and world that we live in. It’s a chance for women’s voices to be heard and to be united, and to for their skills to be utilised to the full extent and capabilities. Tech has removed many physical and psychological barriers to employment.

Once you have the skills you need, there are incredible job opportunities out there for you to take advantage of.

What are you waiting for? Pull on your boots and get Skilled-up at the camp.

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work Students and Graduates

Flexible Working: A Youth-Centred Approach to the Future

Oh to be in the flush of youth – light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, single (or at least on Tindr). With so many advantages, it is often assumed that flexible working is not much of a need or concern for the fresh-faced who are still in their salad days. Yet, those just starting out in life face a myriad of issues for which agile work formats can provide a solution.

Student Costs

Tuition fees are high, upwards of £9,000 and repayable with interest. Added to the cost of living away from home, many students are saddled with debt that they will spend perhaps decades paying off. Even the maintenance living grants are often not sufficient to cover the basics. “For many, wages from part-time work are the only way students can make ends meet,” states Sir Peter Lampl of The Sutton Trust.

Juggling intellectually strenuous courses with part-time jobs is not an easy balance to pull off. But without flexible work, many people simply could not afford a tertiary or further education. When we leave people unable to improve themselves and their prospects, both our society and our economy suffer. Flex is key to this.

Flexible Internships

To get work experience, you need work experience. It’s the circular system that holds many people back. Internships are difficult to get in the first place, as many seem to come through word-of-mouth, family connections or privileged social networks. There does not seem to be enough internships to go around.

A more radical idea would be to introduce job-share internships, with each person doing 2.5 days per week. Doubtless this would require careful management, especially when it comes to handovers. But it is a possible option that would mean that double the number of people would gain at least some experience and something to put on their CVs to move their careers forward. Businesses would, in turn, get the benefit of having more people to assess for specific roles.

Neurodiversity

Youth seems to be the most care-free time of our life but the statistics on the incidence of mental health do not relate merely to those who are older. But making small change can have a significant impact. For example, a person with depression (which can often be worse in the morning) who is allowed to come into work at 10am and work later in the day can get a job and can keep that job. Employed, contributing, paying tax – this is what young people can have if reasonable adjustments are made to their particular situation.

If you want to find out more about what neurodiverse people can do if businesses provide the right working conditions and flexible working opportunities, check out our piece that expands on this subject.

Carer Responsibilities

Many young people take care of elderly relatives at home. By assuming such duties, they save the taxpayer huge amounts of money, thus shouldering up an already creaking and under-resourced care system. But this can only be fair if the carer has some opportunity to work flexibly around these responsibilities.

The consequences of removing flexible working from the equation are two-fold. First, whilst taking on such caring tasks is humane, worthwhile and honourable, it leaves the carer with little else to put on their CV. This in turn limits the kinds of roles young carers can apply for. Secondly, carers may become trapped in a system of living on carer-related benefits because of their limited skills. Young people have dreams – and should be given an opportunity to accomplish them. Flexible working allows the possibility both for caring and for young people to fulfill their aspirations and potential.

Young people are our future world. So, it’s really never too early to enter flexible working.

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work Parental

Flexible Working Builds Better Communities

It is minus 20°C and it has been pitch dark since two o’clock in the afternoon. Around 4.30pm a throng of parents wait for their little ones in a floodlit school playground in wintery Helsinki. Much chatter can be heard amongst people stamping their feet and rubbing their hands against the cold. I am often the only women in this congregation and we swap advice and make plans to meet up with or without our children. The atmosphere, in contrast to the unrelenting weather, is warm and friendly. This is the community that flexible working built.

Personal and public

Flex working patterns are seen as individualised, as they are tailored to meet a specific person’s needs whether related to childcare or other aspects of life. This is a desirable and effective approach which promotes a good work/life balance. However, the cumulative effect that agile work formats have on communities is underestimated. If everyone has the chance to work flexibly, this has a knock-on effect on how we organise our lives and how interact with others in our social milieu.

Starting at the Finnish end

In Finland, flexibility starts early. Initially introduced to meet the needs of parents, alternative work patterns have become so widespread and accepted that their use for those without children is now practicable. After all, the systems are already in place. When children do come along, parental leave packages are generous and, yes, fathers get a shot at it too. Already happy bubbles of new parents start meeting up – most importantly encompassing both genders.

In London, my husband was the only father at the school gates for pick up. In Helsinki, he was one among many and developed a good social network. When he took shared parental leave in the UK, he took it alone. In Finland there would have been whole groups of Dads (and Mums) to join.

Gender segregation in child rearing is much less apparent in Helsinki and I was often invited by the fathers to join them for coffee and for outings. When I wanted to arrange a playdate or needed to know something in relation to my son (where is the best dentist?) it was often a father that I rang up. It was interesting and heartening to see so many men take on the family admin which usually falls to the women. “We get to be around more, so we do more,” explained one father.

Flexibility oils the system

The reason for this type of interaction and societal structures is largely down to flexible working. Men and women both have the chance to arrange their lives to best suit their circumstances. Admittedly cost-effective childcare does play a role. For a whole month of afternoon playtime (school finishes at 1.30pm) including a hot snack until a 5pm pick-up, I paid just £140. In some places in the UK, you would be lucky to get 3 afternoons for that amount.

But there is little point in having affordable childcare unless a parent – ideally both – can actually make it out of the office for the pick-up. Jan, a busy lawyer who is a state prosecutor, says, “I have to leave early twice a week because my wife also works. So that is what I do. And I want to.” His wife, Krista, who works in banking, has just been promoted. Flexibility for men not only benefits them but has an impact on how women progress in their careers. Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, was elected to the post whilst still just in her early thirties and with a baby in her arms.

Happy flexible days

For four consecutive years Finland was named as the happiest country in the world by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network which publishes, annually, a report gauging the happiness of people around the world. Moving to live in Helsinki certainly made us smile.

Susha Chandrasekhar

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work

In work, how much focus is there on input as opposed to output? Jobs and projects are often defined by the number of hours that must be worked, where and when they must be worked, the personal qualities and experiences that are required to be inputted and so on. By defining such matters at the outset, there is a sense that this will inexorably lead to the desired result.

Time and Motion

A prominent human time-motion study was carried out by Frederick Taylor. An employee’s work in a factory would be timed with a stopwatch and from that the output would be calculated. Human beings were treated as automatons and indeed much of the manufacturing work done in Taylor’s era would be done by machines today. There was an emphasis on control within strictly defined limits with no flexibility for a person to manage their own input in the way that suited them and their lives in order to reach the same output destination.

Start at the destination

Output is crucial as it is how we define and measure attainment and how we tackle the bottom line of making money.

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

This method requires having a clear, overriding vision of what the outcome should be and then crystallising that into a useable set of statements. If you have an output mission statement, the question arises as to what extent you need to control input.

Job descriptions

The most immediate way of controlling input is through a job description which refers exclusively to inputs rather than outputs. Many such statements also contain a plethora of attributes that may not actually be required for the job in hand.

For example, “outgoing” may be used as recruiting requirement for new employees. But if a person is working from home on invoicing with little direct human contact, is “outgoing” really an absolutely necessary quality? The output is that a certain number of invoices need to be processed in timely manner. If that is fulfilled, the intended outcome has been reached. The employee concerned may indeed be an introvert or someone who is neurodiverse but who thrives on procedure and steadily gets the job done well.

Monitoring

Getting the most out of employees and hitting targets is an art form, with styles ranging from micro-management to complete laissez-faire. By focusing on the output, however, a worker has more freedom about how to reach the point of success.

Clearly some sectors are, of their nature, regimented. NHS nurses and those operating customer service helplines must be present at certain times and follow defined procedures. But a more nuanced approach can be used to effect where there is scope for autonomy.

For example, if you need a project to be completed in a month, is it necessary to dictate exactly how it is done? A person can work flexibly to suit their needs, doing the work later on in the evening, at home, or whenever is convenient. Obviously, the worker would need to be available to participate in relevant team meetings and would need some supervision along the way. But checking in on whether the work is being doing correctly is not the same as checking up how the employee is doing it in terms of personal time management and working strategy.

Mechanisms

When it comes to machines, we have chemistry and physics equations to help us determine precisely what goes in, when, in what proportions and what should come out. Humans are rather more complicated, approaching matters according to their personal characteristics, commitments and lifestyles. When it comes to people, different inputs can create the same output. With that in mind, it’s now time to take the “output challenge” and review how we recruit and manage people

Categories
Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work

Flex Working – An Age Old Question

At what age do you no longer need flex working? It is often assumed that people in the later stages of life make little use of this option as their responsibilities have diminished and their stress curves have flattened. Perhaps they are even comfortably retired and are in their rocking chairs watching Gardeners World? The reality is that people are toiling longer than their forebears, thus precipitating a generational change that impacts on how we view and facilitate employment.

Adding up the numbers                               

With the state pension spiralling upwards, the brutal truth is that many people have no choice but to soldier on. As was demonstrated with the furore that arose when the pension age for women was dramatically raised from 60 to 65, we cannot be sure what the future holds. Flex keeps the older generation in employment and particularly so when health issues rear their head. Agile work formats mean people can avoid the detrimental effects of pension poverty whilst also continuing to contributeto the state and more widely to society.

A Wealth of Experience

The older generation brings much to the workplace in terms of expertise and mentoring that should not be overlooked. By not offering flex working, all these advantages are lost as people step out of the economy taking so much of note and merit with them. Age is as much a protected characteristic under the Equality Act as gender, race or sexuality and should not be viewed as a justification for negatively predetermining talent or capability.

Offering flexibility to retain the talent of older employees is crucial. Workplaces can then become more diverse andinformed environments. We can all benefit from harnessing decades of valuable experience.”

Stephen Burke, Director of United for All Ages

Artificial age-based constructs help no-one. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, one day we will be judged not on our birth certificates but on the content of our character.

Childcare and Kinship Care

Government statistics indicate that 1 in 4 working families rely on grandparents for childcare and 63% of grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare. This is not just about a spot of evening babysitting but rather such assistance plays a critical role in enabling parents to work. The childcare they provide is worth £7.3 billion a year as estimated by the charities Age UK and Grandparents Plus.

When older people can work flexibly, they support the younger generation to achieve their goals and potential. Since the major part of childcare is done by women, this has an impact on how women progress professionally and on issues such as narrowing the gender pay gap.

In complex cases, older family members may come forward in to look after children when the parents cannot, as an alternative to foster care. Flex helps to keep children at home, and it has been shown time and time again that staying with the birth family produces more successful outcomes.

It is not merely about having a better social upbringing. There is a domino effect for all of us. When, for example, grandparents step in to care instead of the state, they save the taxpayer money and resources. Flex working is a vital part of that process.”

Lucy Peake, CEO of the charity, Kinship

An Unstoppable Demographic

We are living longer and the proportion of the older generation relative to the population as a whole is increasing. Age is not something we can control and (barring a tragic early demise) it will happen to us regardless. We all have a strong vested interest it. Do we really want a system that sabotages our future selves? For harnessing experience, for better family and social relationships, for fairness – that is why flex working is required for the later ages and stages of our lives.

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Flexible Working

Flexible Working Appeal – How to Make a Convincing Flex Request

Flexible working is undergoing a paradigm shift. Cued by the Covid pandemic, several businesses are leaning towards a more agile format. Tech giants are trailblazing and high-street brands are following suit. But many employers remain hesitant about flex. Perhaps because it was presented during lockdown in its most dystopian manner – stressful, isolated and juggled in with home-schooling. How do you convince a doubtful boss about the long-term benefits of flex?

What procedure?

You may make a statutory flexible working request if you meet the requirements. Alternatively, you may submit an informal request. For more information on your legal rights, check out www.acas.org.uk and www.gov.uk. Whichever route you choose, you will still have to sell your idea.

Slice it up

Too often people think that the default is to go part-time. There are myriad options out there and you may find that full-time but with core or staggered hours is actually more feasible. Slice up your working life and see what kind of flex will suit each part of it. For example, you could do compressed hours in conjunction with home-working. Be as creative as you can, so that you can present your employer with as many realistic alternatives as possible.

Gather evidence of Flexible Working

A case is only as good as its evidence. Check whether your employer has a flexible working policy in its handbook and use that as a starting point. To boost your request, you could gather case-studies which relate directly to your job position which demonstrate successful examples of flex working. The strongest argument against “it can’t be done” is to show, exactly and concretely, how it is being done. You may also gather statistics about flex and the corresponding impact on productivity in your industry.

Sell your business model

Our reasons for flex-working are deeply rooted because they impact on such important areas of life such as health, family or identity. But this is not the time to present a purely personal case or one that deals solely with generalities. By all means, emphasise the positive outcomes for you but that it only half the story. We all acknowledge that there are many advantages associated with homeworking. There is less stress, less time lost commuting, less pressure on public transport and a positive impact on the environment. However, your employer still has a business to run, as well as a profit and loss account to balance.

Get specific. Anticipate every push-back your employer can make and come up with a persuasive solution. If you work from home on Thursdays and there is a scheduled team meeting that day, offer to link in via Zoom.
Talk up the benefits to the employer of offering flexibility. If you work remotely full-time, your boss could save money on renting commercial office space. If business is brisk at the start of the week but sluggish later on, you could offer to do more hours on Monday in return for an early departure on Friday.


Flex back

Flexibility is two-way street. If your employer is willing to let you flex, be prepared to do the same in return. When there is an away day that usually falls on your at-home time, still turn up. If there is a sudden temporary upsurge in work, pitch in by logging on in the evening for example (although be vigilant that this does not settle into a permanent pattern). This approach not only builds strong businesses, it also promotes goodwill and fruitful professional relationships. Check out why staying connected while remote working important and how you can best state your case to your employer how it will work for them.

Schedule a Flexible Working trial period

Employers may well be sceptical about whether flex working will actually deliver and this uneasiness can lead them to turn down requests. To combat this hesitancy, offer a trial period to see how it pans out. If there are difficulties, use this experience as an opportunity to iron them out in a proactive manner.
Flex Appeal. Have you got it?

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work

Remote Working – Stay Connected

“Out of sight, out of mind” wrote John Heywood, a favoured playwright to four Tudor monarchs, in his collection of proverbs. With the initially forced and now inexorable rise of alternative employment patterns, this epigram is as poignant today as it was centuries ago. For remote workers, several questions arise – how does a person stay connected, visible, remain part of a team and secure good work and promotion whilst not being on site?

The Challenge For Remote Workers

No commuting, less stress and concentrating in the relative quiet of home (in non-Covid times) mean that homeworkers are ready to attack their to-do lists with more gusto than otherwise. But there is a lingering sense that being physically present in the workplace indicates that an employee is more available, more obviously diligent or perhaps even just more personable. These issues increase with the amount of time spent out of the office, with full-time remote workers facing particular challenges.

It’s Good To Talk

Email has become the default manner of communication but it’s good to talk. When you pick up the phone and speak, you can modulate your tone of voice and nuances come across far better. There is also the chance to ask for clarification and further information on a real-time basis. With people’s in-boxes increasingly cluttered, the direct personal approach can be more effective. If concerned about interrupting someone, use instant messaging to check availability. Alternatively send a meeting invite for an Outlook calendar which can be accepted or used to propose a more suitable time. 

Responding Promptly

In an office, a line manager can walk up to a desk, ask if something can be done and get an instant, and reassuring, response. Where appropriate, it is helpful to recreate this interaction by responding promptly to an email or voicemail. Even if the deadline for the work is far into the future, reply immediately to say that you have received the message and that you will be actioning it.

Make Your Voice Heard

Meetings can be testing, as everyone is in the room except the remote worker. You need to prepare carefully to maximise your meeting participation. Do not irrelevantly say things just for the sake of it (trust me, this will not make you popular) but rather focus in advance on what your contribution will be. Body language, in particular, may not come across in Zoom and certainly not on a voice-only call. Instead of just nodding your head and hoping someone will notice this on a screen, you may need to speak up to make sure you get your point across.

Communicate Your Aspirations

Remote working has many advantages. But it does not feel that way when you are at home wondering why X or Y got a plum project when you missed out. Sometimes work just gets handed out to the person who is more obviously in a line of vision.

To mitigate against such disappointment, communicate aspirations and preemptively volunteer for what you want. Your supervisor is not a mind reader. Whatever work you do get, schedule progress check-ins to get feedback and ensure that you are on the right path. This also indicates to your boss how productive you are and reassures that there are no surprise problems lurking in the background.

Connect With A Mentor

If you want more long-term input into your career, being matched with a mentor can be a great move for mapping and achieving progress. It is always beneficial to have someone to discuss how you can get ahead and to advocate for you when you are not in the office yourself. You could also offer to buddy a newcomer and thus have a positive impact on the work environment in that way.

stay connected, photo of team with one remote worker

What Next For The Remote Worker

Offices are buzzing places with collaborative relationships often built around chit-chat and water-cooler conversations. Remote workers may miss out on that sense of camaraderie and the networking that comes with it. To combat this, it is smart proactively to instigate social interaction. You can schedule in a coffee Zoom or a lunch Skype since nowadays eating “al-desko” has become popular. Other options include ensuring that you participate in Away Days and attend firm-wide events such as the Xmas lunch. 

When it comes to remote employment, the only thing that should be remote is the work, not the worker. 

Susha Chandrasekhar

Read more about how Covid could change how and where we live.

Categories
Careers Interviews And CV's

Top 10 Tips for a Compelling LinkedIn Profile

You need to be on LinkedIn. So many hundreds of millions of people have joined. These days, it looks strange not to be at the party. 98% of recruiters use it as a database and employers regularly access it to check out candidates. Your LinkedIn profile is also a fantastic way to build your personal brand, create a persuasive online presence, source new leads and network virtually. 

But merely having a profile is not enough. It has to be stellar to make you stand out.   

Use visuals for impact

Access our blogpost entirely devoted to this topic here. In short, use a smart headshot, customise your background banner, use the feature function to showcase blogs and vlogs, utilise symbols and other formatting, and link to logos. 

Get a custom public profile url

Linkedin assigns every user a clunky url full of random characters and numbers. Alter this to a shorter one which is easier to put on CVs, business cards and websites. LinkedIn also has a badge to place on your website. Your url will start www.linkedin.com/in – but you can add more individualised wording after that. 

Make the headlines

Most headlines are just a current job title as this what LinkedIn auto-fills. But the headline offers more character space which you can use to reference other experiences, qualities and values. Leaving it lonesome is a missed opportunity to make a striking and powerful statement. Consider “Speaker and Blogger on Parenting” and the more memorable tagline of “Solo Dad, Writer, Public Speaker, Blogger, Master of Ceremonies, Advocate for Equality and Change.”

Call to recruiters

LinkedIn has a spot which allows you to show that you are open to job opportunities. Limit viewing rights so that only recruiters can see this, as you presumably do not want your current boss to have advance notice of your plans.

Elevator pitch

Your LinkedIn profile has an ‘About’ section near the header. Many leave this blank or under-optimise by discussing solely a current job position. Neither of these approaches gives a sharp overview or entices busy people to press on. You need to create a hook fast because other profiles are just a click away. For a sparkling start, use this opening section as an elevator pitch distilling your career to date and targeting your offering. 

Storyboarding

Your LinkedIn Profile ‘Experience’ section should tell your professional story using compelling language. Access our blogpost on word choice here

  • Summarise key achievements, accomplishments and attributes
  • Quantify success – instead of “grew sales”, state “grew sales by 50%” 
  • Use bullet points to break up the text and leave white space
  • Be selective about what you cite. People want to a quick scan, not a deep read 
  • LinkedIn has a separate part for honours, awards, courses, publications, languages so you can place info under those headings to avoid cluttering the ‘Experience’ section.

Skills and recommendations

Audit your character and career to ascertain what you can bring to the table. Recruiters often search using keywords and job ads list required core competencies. Do you have them? You can also ask for endorsements for these skills or more specific recommendations from other LinkedIn users to increase your credibility.

Engage

Log in frequently and join groups related to your subject area, education or interests. Post updates or at least make pertinent comments on posts in your feed. Keep it professional – you could refer to business books/articles you have read, seminars given or attended, or the latest statistics and industry developments.                                                             

Know when to disengage

LinkedIn is for business so omit snaps of holidays, social evenings out, weddings etc. Beware of releasing confidential information or stating anything embarrassing to an employer. And this is not the forum to air grievances.

Refrain from descending into heated online exchanges or unnecessary point proving – disagree politely. LinkedIn has a digital footprint so anybody can scroll through your activity and draw unflattering conclusions based on off-the-cuff remarks. To err on the side of caution, review your LinkedIn history and delete anything that could come back to haunt you.  

Connect

LinkedIn is a good way of staying in touch with people you already know. But it is also an effective means of widening your network. 

If you ask a stranger to connect, add a reason why it would be beneficial to accept your invitation. After all you would not march up to someone, foist your business card on them, and then stalk off in silence. Perhaps you have a common acquaintance, a shared employment field, similar volunteering or a passion for a cause. Whilst tempting to link to anybody anywhere, in the long run your time is more efficiently spent nurturing valuable contacts that you can leverage.

Your LinkedIn Profile In Summary

Creating a LinkedIn profile is akin to planting a garden. Once the spade work is done to get it in shape, you still have to keep pruning and tending. But it looks great when it’s in bloom.

Susha Chandrasekhar

Categories
Flexible Working Lifestyle

Will Lockdown Change How and Where We Live?

Home Sweet Home. It is our shelter, our sanctuary, our escape from the world and is reputedly where the heart is. But the Covid-19 crisis has caused us to reassess how we interact with that space in so many ways including in a professional context. The rise and prevalence of remote working has shown what can be achieved without crossing the threshold of our front door. What does this mean for how and where we live?

Redefining Home Working

Few would wish to re-create the emergency lockdown makeshift of balancing computers on the kitchen table or precariously on knees whilst perching on the sofa. There have been noises and disruptions, with drying laundry scattered around, and the paraphernalia of personal life in the background. We have all suffered at times from cabin fever and sensory overload. Clearly this ad-hoc approach is not the best long-term strategy for effective homeworking and many increasingly do want to work remotely on a more sustained basis.

A designated room in the house to be used solely as an office is one solution. It presents soundproofed peace and, if carefully devised and arranged, a business-like environment. One which is separated from its domestic counterpart. There is also the chance, physically and mentally, to shut the door on work at the end of the day. And we all do need to switch off at some point. But how to magic up this space?

Space – The First Frontier

One option is for people to upgrade in their existing location which means negotiating a bigger mortgage and taking a harder hit on monthly repayments. This is not always financially viable. With the economy stuttering and redundancies afoot, it may also be a risky step.

Another route is to improve-not-move. This is done by building an extension onto an existing property or converting an attic to be used as an office hub. Basement renovations are also popular when you have no choice but to dig deep. Alternatively, open plan could be ditched with a large footprint split into two smaller rooms to create a work bubble. Once Covid is over (yes, this too will pass), builders may face a welcome upturn in demand for their services as people redesign their homes to meet changing needs.

But some are contemplating more radical solutions. The Office for National Statistics, which is tracking the impact of Covid-19, indicates that office-based employees are now willing to exchange crowded cities for pastures new. Among those planning to work from home, 12% have considered moving to a rural or costal area. Estate agents have seen more buyer registrations for properties in commuter villages and around small market towns. The temporary stamp duty holiday offered by the Chancellor, to kickstart the housing market out of its virus paralysis, has provided a further incentive to up sticks and turn daydreams into reality.

New Home, New Lifestyle

It is not merely the extra legroom that is the draw. As per Rightmove, the online property website, there is a “lure of a new lifestyle, one that is quieter and has an abundance of beautiful countryside and more outdoor space.” If people can work from home more, they may decide to live further out. Thus accepting a longer commute on certain days in return for a mode of living that is calmer, greener and less polluted. In turn this leads to a healthier and less stressful existence. It is an appealing vista.

This approach pans out on more than a personal level with a possible wider economic impact. There is a chance to rebalance house prices in different regions, to reinvigorate local economies and to promote a rural renaissance. Perhaps it is time to update the old saying to Home and Office, Sweet Home and Office.