Do you work at home, but yet, feel your skills are becoming dull? It depends.
According to Flexjobs recent survey* of working mothers, 64% feel they are more productive at home.
Yet, many work-at-home (WAH) professionals feel challenged to keep up with trends and to learn the new skills necessary to stay employed and well-paid.
Like your work, you can also do this important learning at home. Professionals need continual skill refreshment to remain productive for their job and add value to their work and career.
I like to share the resources and tools I used. These helped my career growth and sharpened my skills:
1. Webinars and teleconferences
Most organizations provide continuing education online via streaming or on-demand, making it accessible around the clock. Depending on the organization, an additional charge occurred by the user, and possibly, not included in the membership cost.
You can also check to see if the organization put last year’s webinar or teleconference on YouTube for free. Depending on the industry, last year’s information is useful after a year or two.
2. Podcasts and vlogs
Niche podcasts and vlogs (video blogs) are often part of an industry organization’s library for members. Podcast directories and libraries house many subjects from different angles.
Most smartphones have a place to download and store podcasts and vlogs so you can listen anywhere. As I mentioned, creating and hosting a podcast not only a closer network but also learning opportunities.
Work with other WAH professionals who are keeping up with industry trends on articles, videos, and online presentations.
If you are older, work with a younger peer who knows how to use online tools. Older workers would benefit working with younger professionals to help remove the “too old” stigma.
Younger professionals will learn how to apply and present knowledge and gain knowledge about many aspects of successful careers from older professionals who have learned from (sometimes painful) experience..
There are non-profit organizations who work with professionals to pilot their new but unpolished skills. There’s often a significant learning curve, and it benefits both parties.
The generosity environment breeds people will vouch for the value of your abilities. It’s an excellent way to get a few recommendations and endorsements on your LinkedIn profile and give your profile additional visibility.
5. Train others
Maya Angelou once said, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” It’s easier to become fulfilled today once you start helping others become fulfilled.
Training others is more than just passing the time with billable hours. Training is purposeful when you’re passing on to others what has fulfilled you.
6. Create networking opportunities
Meetups are a great way to curb the feeling of being on an island. Events are a great way to get feedback on innovative ideas you would value.
Every social interaction is a networking opportunity. Church, hair salon, barbershop, or the cleaners are all networking opportunities. One piece of advice or one person can change the trajectory of your efforts. Don’t waste an opportunity.
7. Read with your local public library, “Libby,” and YouTube
All you need is a local library card to access digital and audiobooks. Libby is a free app available on iOS and Google Play.
You borrow and return books from your library using your app for all transactions. You access the books like you do at your local library.
YouTube is useful for audiobooks. I found and listened to Chris Voss’s book Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It for free. You can find older classic business and career books there.
8. New certifications of a different skillset
Toastmasters is just one way to polish a skill that crosses many platforms. Getting the advance certifications encourages you to master this highly useful transferable skill.
Certification programs also provide networking opportunities, both online and offline. My training certification process and short practice added valuable insights into my writing and consulting with job seekers.
There are many parallels in the way people approach fitness and job search. I’m sure there are many other similar parallels of interest to sharpen your skills in working from home.
9. Participate in industry organization contests
The competition will test what you know and exploit what you don’t know. Failed to place?
Get the training and then come back for the win. Contests can help familiarize yourself with the cutting edge of trends. The competition also will bring out the best of your access at that time.
When you do place first, you can use the accomplishment to promote you, your services, and expand your brand.
10. Don’t forget LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Skillshare etc.
All of these services have mobile apps you can use anywhere. Udemy often offers classes at a 90% discount, so it’s worth watching for the offers. Theses on-demand classes are available anytime.
11. Think Tank groups
There are several forums and Facebook groups I belong to as it helps my perspective of my industry. One is a writing group, and the others are with career professionals as part of a larger organization.
It doesn’t hurt to pay to join these groups although you may find some for free. The paid groups motivate you to get value because you paid to do so. I belong to a couple of free ones. They don’t offer the cost as the paid ones. But everyone’s experience is different.
12. Professional associations
Small, local professional associations may exist as well as local chapters of national and international organizations. These can be great sources of learning in seminars and professional certifications (in person or recorded), even emailed newsletters.
You may also find opportunities to join association-member-only social media, like a Facebook group, where insider information may be shared. These groups can be excellent sources of information about the local market for your work plus opportunities to learn and a great environment for the networking that helps you remain employed.
Just because you’re a WAH professional doesn’t mean you have only to use the tools an employer tells you to use. If fact, your best career advancement and tool sharpening strategies is on your dime.
The Bottom Line
Forge forward and increase your marketability to its full potential because an employer will only provide what is necessary for them. You own your future. For me, podcasting has created a networking ecosystem, and even if no one listens, I’ve talked with hundreds of professionals in my industry. Many of them follow trends, and some are innovators who pointed to other resources to enrich my learning.
This article was originally published on job-hunt.org!
P.S. I was asked by the people from Prezi which resulted in a complementary video to this article. Watch and let me know what you think.
Working a remote job from home sounds ideal, but preparing your life for remote work is not easy. Finding the perfect remote job through a remote job board seems romantic at first. You can’t believe how many jobs are “a fit” for you. But no one tells you how heavy the lifting is by the simple things you take for granted such as Internet access, data security, and video chats glitches. But for the sake of the romance, you will work it out because you’ve asked for the last year to work from home. You face burnout and loneliness and jeopardize the opportunity to work from home if you don’t adapt quickly.
Studies say you’ll be more productive, less stressed, and more appreciative of your company when you’ve successfully transitioned. Money savings by working at home because of the cut in travel, you can eat at home, not at restaurants, and tax write-offs are significant.
What will you learn? Remote work preparation is a rigorous process.
There are several things to work from home easier:
Understand the rules of engagement.
Seamless virtual team engagement is critical to every business. Each person on the team has a virtual space, and if it’s invaded, it’s a problem. Not everyone will have their virtual doors open for any time visits especially if the team doesn’t meet regularly. Let each person, including your bosses boundaries, and it will make a difference.
Know the resources you can immediately access.
Not every remote position has an IT desk to refer to when there are broadband issues. Very often, the sole remote worker on a team has to be their computer person. It’s frightening for the remote worker who knows what kind of drink each IT person likes.
Schedule everything you can.
The hardest part of autonomy is managing the intangible things taken for granted, such as lunch, family, and potential broadband interruptions. It’s best to schedule everything you do know, and reschedule when work stops.
Keep your new hire packets close.
Many companies already have a remote workers policy in place since it’s much more common. If the company doesn’t, you’ll need to get clarity on it as soon as possible. You can collaborate with your boss to come up with specifics such as expectations of work times, meetings, if scheduled in-office days, or if there are workspaces where you expected to participate.
Don’t forget professional development.
I will happily disagree with others who say, “concentrate solely on onboarding with your new company.” In many industries, ignoring three months of industry trends is a light-year. You want to ask about the part professional development plays with your team or company. I offer 12 suggestions for professional development in this article here.
Little things matter.
As you’re getting into a routine and learning what works for years, you’ll feel you’re a business of one. Your success is contingent on your efforts. How quick can you access Skype, your laptop, your phone, job information, your new hire packet or anything else matters. Having physical comfort matters, too? Are you working in a home office where your back, shoulders, and neck hurts? Resolve these issues as soon as possible.
Pay attention to health irregularities.
You must sustain quality physical and mental health unless it’s the reason for working remote. When faced with a health crisis previous to working remote, hopefully, part of your day is dedicated to making it better. If your health worsened since working from home, then get help. Remote working itself does not automatically improve the quality of your life. You’ll create the remote work experience you have defined for yourself.
To make working remote work for you, you must have a strategy and standard drawing a life between work and life. Mental health is the new dental health, and remote work could add or diminish the quality of life you were seeking. Ignoring signs where you feel you’re losing control of your work environment in the first 90 days can taint the entire experience. However, if you are proactively tweaking your home office, work processes, and relationships, then you’ll start to feel this was the best career move you’ve made.