“Mayday, Mayday!” the dreaded call from an aeroplane going down echoed all over the world when the COVID pandemic struck. The Internet was the parachute that brought us down in one piece (at least those of us who were lucky enough to be outfitted with one) — “shaken, not stirred”.
It’s been months since many of us have seen the familiar insides of our workplace. The ability to work from anywhere, anytime has been around for some years. It took an event of this worldwide magnitude to show us the full potential of working from home. Whatever our reaction to teleworking — overjoyed, frustrated, angry or neutral — we have to come to grips with it being a part of our working style for the years to come.
For some, it might seem like having your cake and eating it too, but teleworking has its downside.
We ache for the day-to-day bantering with associates. Many, if not most, of the tacit communication channels that were present in the physical office, are no longer at hand. Water cooler conversations are gone. The office grapevine has collapsed; we no longer know who’s doing what, with whom and where.
“Out of sight, out of mind”: this well-worn aphorism has never been more valid than in the age of COVID. Memories fade over time. We begin to wonder if our colleagues think about us at all.
Visibility is key to success at work. Staying on top-of-the-mind-recall is going to involve a new set of rules and behaviours, some of them awkward for the kind of person you are. We need to take a fresh look at workplace dynamics. Here’s a game plan for the new reality of work, for staying virtually visible.
You, as a brand
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it. ― Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
You have to learn to sell yourself; this could be disturbing to many. Far from being an attempt at blatant self-promotion, you need to see self-branding as an essential part of the new reality. Unless you do, you will be left behind when it comes to promotions and advancement.
Email is your light sabre
The bulk of all communication, work and personal, happens over email. Hardly anyone puts pen down to paper anymore.
- Answer all you mail within an hour or two. The closer your response is in time to the mail you received, the better the chance of your reply being seen in the right context. We don’t think about it this way but developing a reputation as a prompt responder is a great way to stay visible.
- As you come across material — websites, quotes, small extracts —that is interesting, forward it to those who might enjoy reading it. A little trick: don’t just send the link. Precede it with a paragraph or two with your comment or opinion. This way, your message is personalised; the recipient will feel compelled to read the matter and see what made you think that way.
- Don’t restrict your forwards to dancing cats and other pieces of fluff on Youtube. People may enjoy them but will rarely remember who sent it. There is also a real danger of being seen as a mindless pest.
Linkedin, not Facebook or Instagram
Be active on Linkedin, the premier social network for professionals. There is a popular misconception about LinkedIn being only for job searches and recruiters. LinkedIn offers a terrific amount of good stuff.
Complete your profile with care. There are any number of articles which will tell you how to do it with flair. Google them. Your profile is your resume. Nurture it with care.
- Scout around on Linkedin Groups and join some which interest you.
- Be active with your posts and comments.
- Read articles posted. Connect with people who share similar interests.
- Hashtags are a great way of locating exceptional pieces. You don’t need a ton of connections and followers to find interesting reading.
- Unlike Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where your posts have a life of minutes, LinkedIn has a much longer half-life. Your posts stay in circulation for days.
Rather than wasting your hours on Facebook or Instagram, you’d be much better off on LinkedIn. You may not become an influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers, but you will be pleasantly surprised by the number of people who notice you and remember you.
Who knows, if you need to find a new job, all this work will be useful.
Birthdays, anniversaries, events
Start sending personal notes to people for birthdays, anniversaries and other memorable events. Maintain a calendar.Being regular with these notes is particularly important in the days of social distancing where you cannot attend events in person.
Random acts of kindness
- One of the things that bowl people over is to receive small, sincere notes of thanks and gratitude. Now is the time to start saying “Thank you” for acts of kindness. Think back and pick up on significant events.
- Volunteer for causes. Pay it forward. Increase good karma in the world.
There have been very few eras in human history shrouded in such immense amounts of uncertainty and darkness about the future. None of us imagined in our wildest dreams that we would be witness to such a radical change in the way we work. Mindfulness and living in the moment are the key to maintaining equilibrium.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ― Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Marilyn Monroe
Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
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