Standing Out at Work When You WFH

It's time to invest in your professional development.

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

It will soon be the one-year anniversary for many professionals that are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In celebration of this unusual career milestone, some professionals are seeking ways to level up their existing workplace habits.

This goes beyond getting dressed and dialing in on time for a Zoom call. Ideally, these habits should be practical for any work setting, allow employees to highlight their work ethic, and give them the chance to leave their mark.

Here’s how you can stand out when you WFH — now and into the future.

Create an NNTR Update.

What does that acronym stand for? NNTR, according to Shanna Hocking, Founder of Be Yourself Boldly, stands for “No Need to Respond.”

An NNTR Update is a twice weekly email update. This is sent from the employee to the boss sharing the employee’s value at work. It also details what the employee is working on and what they have accomplished.

“When you can’t have a water cooler conversation or stop by the boss’ office, this email provides insights on your work and helps you stay visible,” Hocking says. “This is important to your advancement at work.”

Writing and sending an NNTR update helps managers, too. “As a leader, this update helps me prioritize with the staff member if there are too many things on their plate for that week or for me to send acknowledgement of their progress,” Hocking explains.

Hocking recommends employees sending NNTR updates keep a file dedicated to these emails. Over time, you can review your progress and accomplishments. Not only will this make you feel like you’re standing out in your respective role but having documented evidence of your success is helpful during employee reviews and evaluations — especially if you’re seeking a raise or promotion.

Keep up with your colleagues.

Emily Hurd is the Co-Founder of Preinclined, a productivity website that helps people find balance between their present and future selves at work and in their personal lives.

Hurd echoes Hocking’s sentiment about the lack of water cooler talk. Previously, we caught up with colleagues over lunch and during breaks at the office. As we continue to WFH, it becomes more challenging to connect each day when we’re all pretty busy.

Hurd advises keeping up with your colleagues while working remote. Pay attention to little details and check in regularly to see how they are doing.

“If a colleague shares something they’re looking forward to for the weekend or mentions a friend or family member they’re concerned about, make a note to follow up within a few days to check in,” Hurd says.

Keeping up with coworkers is also a boost for morale. Working from home can be lonely for many and it feels good to have members of the team reach out.

“In these times of isolation, knowing that a colleague is in your thoughts can be quite meaningful and show that you care,” Hurd says.

Invest in yourself.

Remember commuting to work? Americans working from home are saving an average of 54 minutes each day without a daily work commute. This same data notes that 35% of Americans are using the extra time to do more work on their primary jobs.

Now is the perfect time to invest in yourself, says Kristen Fowler, Practice Lead at global executive search firm Clarke Caniff Strategic. Professionals should get ready to upskill their professional toolkit and strengthen their overall professional development.

“Be open to feedback and ask for specific advice on ways to continue building your career within the organization,” Fowler recommends.

The 54 minutes you’re saving each day can be put towards expanding your professional knowledge. Read books, listen to podcasts, and gain professional certifications.

The sooner you can get started, the better. “Any time invested early in your career is sure to pay dividends later, too.” Fowler says.

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