From Frustrated to Updated At Work

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Up-skilling during COVID-19 

Now that staying at home is a mandate, it is safe to say that COVID-19 has made most of you try your hands on baking, on cooking new recipes from all those fancy cookbooks and youtube, brush up on your second or third language, or even binge-watch Netflix shows. However, as the teething period with the world with virus wears off, some of you may want to up your game and be more productive with your time rather than playing board games or cooking extensive dishes.

As the pandemic stands wide with months of upcoming uncertainty, all organisations have adapted to work from home. Companies are relying majorly on technology to overcome disarray in this time of adversity and most workspaces are rebooting and shifting to smarter tech-savvy methods. Virtual meetings have become a part of your work culture and it seems that the mode of doing business will never be the same again. With this huge shift, many of you may have a deeper value for technology than you’ve ever felt before.

There’s no tiptoeing around the fact that in the present times of prevailing economic upheaval, job security is on the decline. Most of you must be wondering ‘what practical measures can I take to retain my job in the future?’.

The answer to this question is to UP-SKILL YOURSELF DIGITALLY.

Yes! With digital transformation, the market would require more talent with digital skills.

And, now that you’re home, maybe it’s time to think of it as a career opportunity! In fact a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance your skillset!

Broadly speaking, acquiring digital skills encompasses skills like data analysis, coding, web development, and the currently trending one, artificial intelligence, amidst others. However. up-skilling would mean different things for different people. Regardless, you are required to proactively seek out new skill sets and credentials.

Pre-Requisites To Up-Skill Yourself

  1. Do a Need Assessment – The needs of each one of you is unique to your organisation and where you stand on your journey to digital transformation.
  • Thoroughly review yourself in areas you need to improve – it can be online marketing strategies, presentation skills, online sales skills, analysing data, search console, etc. This will provide a clear path for you to know where to focus all your attention on.
  • Make sure the identified skills are in line with your future career goals, i.e; enhance skill sets that are pivotal for your job profile.
  • Prioritise the skills based on where you see yourself in five years from now.
  • Research about the specific qualifications and certifications you’ll require for the role.
  1. Know where to Go – Once you’ve identified the skills you need to work on, you have to ascertain where to go to acquire these skills.
  • One assured gateway is to enrol in online courses on various trusted platforms like Udemy, EdX, and FutureLearn amidst others.
  • Embrace mobile learning – it offers an added perk of allowing you to move at a pace that suits you better. This increases the chances of managing learning alongside your other work and household commitments.
  • It is imperative to opt for the right program to help you achieve your desired skills. So, be mindful of your learning style, the course’s applicability, and the credentials of the expert teaching you.

Some Skills You Can Zip Through During This Downtime

  1. Ace Virtual Communication – You may have clarity in your ideas yet not being able to communicate them effectively can put you in a vulnerable spot. To be fluent, be grammatically correct, and use the right words to nail your point.

Useful Tips:

  • Pen down key points – Before you begin to talk or make your presentation, prepare bullet points to ensure that you do not miss out on any important information. Also, this makes you feel more confident and eliminates the risk involved with just winging it. You may also listen to a few others online and add points you like to your presentation.
  • Practice is the key – Rehearse multiple times at your workstation (designated spot at home). This makes you feel more comfortable while delivering the actual speech. You can record yourself on your phone and listen to it to evaluate where you need to work or you may do a practice run with a family member and get their feedback to feel more confident.
  1. Add Life to your Virtual Presentations – Making your virtual presentation interesting and captivating isn’t a cakewalk. The specifics of knowing your audience and being attentive to the final message remain the same during virtual presentations and live presentations. However, a major difference lies in the attention span of your audience, which is shorter when you’re online. It is, therefore, important to catch and sustain your audience’s attention.

Useful Tips:

  • Work on your Slides – Slides are the primary visual stimulation that your viewers receive. Make them colourful and catchy with sufficient graphics and photos. Ensure to pace yourself in a way that you don’t get stuck on one slide for too long, else you may lose your audience’s interest. Having a steady pace ensures that your viewers have new material to focus on which keeps their brain alive and awake.
  • Actively engage your audience – Online presentations can be boring when the flow of the information is simply one way. Usually, the audience may start multitasking and do other things alongside listening to you. To avoid this, master the skill to call on your audience randomly, and ask them to vote in polling questions or answer a simple question to get their attention. Initiate an interaction every 5 minutes to cut off the monotony. Use diverse means of welcoming participation to boost audience engagement and to make the attendees feel heard.
  • Have a dynamic approach – It’s okay to have jitters before a presentation, but, turn your nervousness into focussed enthusiasm. An enthusiastic presentation can win over and make up for some shortcomings in your work as it has a lasting impression. Also, when you’re nervous, it’s common to run out of breath and lose sight of the content. The important thing then, is to master your pauses which will also help you to emphasise on important points.
  1. Polish Skills Needed To Safeguard Current Functioning – It’s no secret that remote ways of working were enforced on you due to coronavirus and its aftermath. However, while you’re at it, it’s important to master skills that aid you to function optimally in the current times.

Useful Tips:

  • Adapt to video conferencing – As virtual meetings are the ‘new’ way to work, it is a good practice to get comfortable with video conferencing. There are several different apps and software that make this possible. It is important for you, as an employee, to master the application that your company uses. This will ensure that your work sails smoothly in these turbulent times.
  • Equip yourself with new features – Virtual work requires frequent sharing of videos and other data with your colleagues and teammates. Get equipped with features like the use of the digital whiteboard and screen sharing during virtual meets to ensures a glitch-free journey.
  • Refine your email etiquette – Emails are the contact hub for everyone and are currently your prime mode of contacting your clients and co-workers. Hence, you need to master the specifics of professional emailing that go a long way in upscaling your career trajectory.
  1. Master New Tools and Softwares – Across industries, organisation’s need talented employees who know how to use new technologies and this need will only grow in the coming times. You have to be at par with software and technologies that are in-line with your business objectives and need to adapt to evolving approaches that can contribute to business growth. Although the digital world is ever-evolving and it’s almost impossible to know it all, you sure can utilise this time by beginning to adapt to the present day advance technologies.

Useful Tips:

  • Be wise – As appealing as it may be to learn anything that’s coming your way. The ideal thing to do is to be a master of one than a jack of all. So, identify and focus your attention on polishing your skills in those systems, softwares or tools that either align with your roles and responsibilities or enhance your job role.
  • Gain hands-on experience – Open new softwares and explore them for a while. Carefully examine and observe it’s functionality, pen down your doubts and questions, and make a note of your major take backs.
  • Seek professional assistance – Once, you’ve outlined the software or the tool you wish to learn, and have spent some time exploring it on your own, it’s time to step up your game by adding a professional touch to it. Find a personalised tutor or a course that you can take up virtually. Schedule sessions on audio or video calls, with the prime focus on attaining answers to your questions. There may be more doubts that will come up during the sessions, continue to clarify and learn till you master that software. You may also do a certification course to add to your curriculum vitae.

Use Different Modes of Learning

  1. Self Initiated E-Learning – Take ownership for up-skilling yourself and recognise that it is ‘you’ who has to motivate yourself to learn skills that you need to drive your career forward. Ensure that you do not rely on poor quality content to master new skills online. Follow only reliable sources of information. You can even save important parts of the article/content that you’re reading on your desktop for future references.
  2. Cross Training – One of the most reliable ways to up-skill is by identifying a person who possesses the desired skills and then making them your tutor/coach. You can use video demonstrations to ensure a smooth and reliable transfer of skills. Herein, the subject matter expert can record various steps or talk about some topic using their phone or laptop and can then share their videos with you on some common platform.
  3. Following the Content Generated by Industry Experts – Technology is a broad spectrum and entails a constant race in knowledge and skills. To be at par with what your job requires, you can learn from experts in your field. You can follow their portals and learn from their blogs/vlogs. You will be amazed by the knowledge you will gain.

Take away Message – There has been a paradigm shift from the previous face to face work to the newly evolving online platforms. Owing it to the outbreak of coronavirus, most of you are in a roller coaster of uncertainty and anxiety about future stability. But, if there is one thing that you can control for sure, it is how you navigate your way through this phase. Needless to say, up-skilling and becoming digitally trained is a smart career move right now. However, instead of getting flustered by the influx of these software and feeling overwhelmed with another added weight on your shoulders, see this as an opportunity to grow.

There is no better time to let go of your inhibitions than right now. So, just take a deep breath, and take it one day or rather one skill at a time. Move your way up in baby steps and while you’re at it, be calm and kind to yourself. Remind yourself daily that all it takes is patience and perseverance and there’s nothing that you can’t learn.

Also, if you have more ideas on how you can up-skill yourself, do share them with us in the comment section below.

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