Very often, we find that life doesn’t go as planned. There may be sudden changes in employment status, unexpected illness or injury, or even something as unexpected as the novel coronavirus crisis. Several countries around the world have announced nationwide lockdowns and large organizations have set a mandate for their teams to work remotely to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Some are better equipped than others to deal with prolonged periods of disruption from their regular working routines. Many may perceive times such as these as “speed-bumps” to their professional development. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can leverage on remote learning to make best of the circumstances and forge ahead professionally.
Remote work has become the norm during these days of the lockdown across countries. While it has been largely accepted as a practice within the technology industry, it comes with its pros and cons.
On one hand, remote workers can be more productive, waste less time in commute and be less likely to spread illnesses, have less of a negative impact on the environment and overall feel more fulfilled. However, they can find it harder to communicate and engage with others about the latest technologies. Many a time, they can find themselves stuck with a problem without teammates around to bounce off ideas or solutions. Communication and collaboration take way more energy to initiate and coordinate, which also makes them a lot less likely to occur.
How does this relate to remote learning? Replacing inherent social structures of a physical office, team stand-ups and in-person collaboration with tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Proofhub, knowledge sharing and learning new things can become much harder. If we aren’t careful, remote work can quickly lead to isolation and knowledge silos. Worse even, our skills can become irrelevant, outdated and unpolished.
Thankfully, there are some solutions to these problems. There are several ways to grow your skills remotely and build momentum in your professional growth. You can continue to stay industry-relevant and connected with the technology development world even while remote.
Here are some ways you can effectively learn and grow while working remotely on a short-term or long-term basis.
Consuming volumes of information online on Covid-19 can drain one’s mental health. Instead, use this opportunity to find your community on various channels. It is not a surprise that most of us tend to give our best work when our ideas are heard and valued. Finding a larger community not only helps in discussing such ideas, it creates a sense of oneness, at a crucial time like this.Twitter, for instance, can be used to open a conversation for any technical questions with several responses and as much helpful information as possible.
Get active on platforms or forums such as LinkedIn Groups and Facebook Groups to connect with individuals of similar interests. Build your network on professional platforms like LinkedIn, AngelList and several other open forums. Seek counselling or counsel others in your area of expertise.
Having a community to remain connected with helps us stay passionate and challenge ourassumptions, giving us the benefit of everyone else’s continued learning and growth.
Podcasts and audiobook have been around for quite some time now, and many listen to these during their commutes. With remote working, though there are no such commutes, that does not have to stop one from listening to podcasts all the same. Instead, listen to these handy hands-free resources while working on chores. Find podcasts in whatever area interests you.
There are several high-quality podcasts on leadership, business and communication as well as future technologies, project management, data science and programming. These are invaluable resources freely available for you to benefit from, especially at times like these.
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the growth rate of the global economyhas declined to slowest rate since 2009 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The IT industry is said to be the most impacted by this slump, with projects being shelved at least until 2021. Against such a backdrop, it becomes even more imperative to focus on reskilling and upskilling wherever you are.
Utilize the quiet environment to consume dedicated learning content without distractions. Online videos can help you stay connected and inspired even while separated. Live instructor-led modules enable more engagement and when paired with hands-on practice and assessments, it can be a great combination to reinforce practical skills for the future of work.
Preparing for the post-digital transformation era, you can now stay abreast of the latest trends in fields like data science and big data analytics. Businesses are increasingly investing in a mobile-first approach, which helps them accelerate new product rollouts. This is in turn increasing the demand for full stack developers. Globalization, despite the slow growth, has opened up opportunities for new-age project managers across sectors and geographies. The ones with certifications will be equipped to take the lead especially in times of such crises.
Consistent learning effort adds up over time and helps you stay connected, aware and enthusiastic about the latest technologies and skills.
Books teach you to a greater depth and help you cross reference. Learn new ways of doing things and in greater depth while always having a reference point to get back to. Buy a few books related to topics you’re interested in, then keep them around for a rainy day. Read a section over lunch, or even just a couple of paragraphs during short breaks. Books can teach you new ways of doing things, help you learn things over time at a greater depth, and serve as a reference point when you are stuck.
For those who prefer reading online, there are umpteen amounts of resources or blogs that can be used for personal growth and professional development.
Working remotely can be stressful, frustrating, demoralizing and isolating. But it can also be one of the best opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade from a career development perspective. According to a recent Tech Jury survey, e-learning increased retention rates by 25% to 60%. That’s double the learning in a compact time, at almost half the cost!
In this age of technological disruption and digital transformation, 'upskill or perish’ is the new truth. But out of crisis comes opportunity. Make the best of the lockdown while you gain new skills and greater confidence that can eventually lead you to seek growth and leadership.
Use your time well and it will open the doors to many opportunities you may not otherwise have.
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