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How to upskill when working from home

Working from home

A growing trend for office-based professionals to work from home and avoid the daily commute means we have more time on our hands. Whether your employer operates a hybrid working model or another lockdown has forced you back into remote working, it makes sense to use this additional time in a productive way.

It’s been recognised that continuous upskilling is vital for your long-term employability and career progression. With the world of work constantly evolving, it’s vital that you keep your existing skills up-to-date and always look to learn new ones. Luckily, this continuous upskilling only requires your time, not necessarily your money. With various cost effective ways to upskill while working from home, why not invest your extra hours into your career?

Your own learning and development doesn’t need to take a pause

When working from home, upskilling makes sense as a strategy that will help you boost your sense of purpose, wellbeing and self-esteem, while learning valuable new skills to add to your CV. It’s also well worth remembering that those people who take steps to regularly boost their skills are the ones who will see their career flourish and grow.

10 ways to boost your skills remotely

Naturally, upskilling when working remotely needs to be conducted digitally. Thankfully, there are many tools and platforms out there for you to choose from.

Here’s our advice on how to upskill remotely:

  1. Access any training and development resources that your employer offers. Your employer may have always given you the opportunity to take on certain forms of training, whether internally or through an external provider, but you may not have had the time to make the most of it. Employees who regularly undertake training and development are frequently higher-performing, more productive, more innovative and more satisfied. They are also likely to stay with an organisation for longer. Training therefore really is a ‘win-win’ for both employer and employee, with benefits lasting long beyond self-isolation. So, schedule some time in your calendar to access any resources that your employer has made available to you online.
  2. Read the top business books. Reading or listening to business books allows you to upskill from any location. The global research and advisory firm Gartner, for instance, provided this rundown of books that could enable you to become a better leader and more effective in business.
  3. Listen to podcasts. Not only can you find podcasts on any topic, but they’re also almost always free. What’s more, they’re great to have on in the background while you’re at home. PlayerFM enables you to pick from podcasts on such subjects as software engineering, investing and entrepreneurship.
  4. Attend virtual events, conferences and webinars. Switching previously physical, ‘real world’ events to the virtual sphere wasn’t just a short-term response to the initial COVID-19 outbreak. After all, even before the coronavirus outbreak, corporate videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype and MS Teams were gaining traction. So, attending virtual events, conferences and webinars could help you to adjust to a way of learning, networking and collaborating that is likely to remain the new normal well beyond COVID-19.
  5. Keep in touch with your mentor virtually. As we have previously explained, a good mentor can change your career for the better, but you need to carefully nurture the relationship. That advice applies equally well at this time when you probably won’t be seeing them in person. Whether you’re keeping in touch with your mentor via video conferencing software or instead perhaps phone or email, the broad principles are the same. Show respect and gratitude to your mentor and discuss how their previous advice helped you, as well as what the two of you could focus on next to keep your development moving forward.
  6. Take an online course on a topic relevant to you. Udemy, for example, offers some 100,000 online courses covering such areas as business, design, marketing, IT, photography and personal development, hosted by top instructors from around the world. LinkedIn Learning provides a similar service, with a one-month free trial. Or why not master Google Analytics with Google’s Analytics Academy? Intelligent data collection and analysis are likely to become more and more important for business success in the years ahead, so now could be a great time to find out more about the search engine’s measurement tools. You might also be tempted to brush up on your writing with The Open University’s free learning arm, OpenLearn. With other great sources of online courses including the likes of Codecademy for coding and Duolingo for learning a language, you’ve got no shortage of options for honing your skills at little or no expense working from home.
  7. Try brain training apps. The fact is that we are all human, and therefore probably all prone to stress and anxiety at various times in our lives, whether that’s during periods of unexpected change or as we cope with the inevitable pressures that can emerge on a day-to-day basis. So, a brain training app that is specifically designed to help you control harmful emotions, while improving brain sharpness and memory, such as ReliefLink, Happify or Lumosity, could be worth trying right now. 
  8. Learn to use and master new technology. In much the same way as creativity is required even in non-creative jobs, those in ‘non-tech’ roles still need some level of tech proficiency in today’s highly digital, interconnected world. It’s likely that working from home has already forced you to get to grips with remote working tools and technology. So, why not use your time now to learn more about the video conferencing, collaboration and other platforms that you are now using regularly? With tech moving at a helter-skelter pace, it can be so easy to end up being left behind, so it’s worth acquiring skills now that will be indispensable for months and years to come.
  9. Learn how to work from home productively. There can be both good and bad things about working from home. You won’t be distracted by colleagues dropping by your desk to try to engage you in conversation. But on the other hand, they might pop up with demands on Skype, and with no one literally watching over your shoulder, you could easily find yourself wasting time browsing social media. Thankfully, some simple steps greatly help you to work more productively from home. Those include starting work early, structuring your day as if you are in the office, having a dedicated workspace that is separate from where you go to relax, and generally acting as if you are in the office. Use this time to learn what works for you when it comes to working from home as productively as possible.
  10. Get into the routine of upskilling at home. It’s important to establish a sense of routine when you’re working from home. So, you should try to incorporate your own learning and development as part of that routine. Try to put aside 30 minutes a day to help you self-improve in some way.

While this is a challenging time for all of us, we can use our time wisely and productively to upskill. This, in turn, will place you in the best possible position to advance your career in a post-COVID-19 world.


About this author

Jane McNeill, joined Hays in 1987 as a trainee recruitment consultant in London and is now Managing Director of Hays NSW and WA.

After two years with Hays Jane began managing her own office and quickly took on larger and more diversified teams of people and responsibility for a region in the UK.

In 2001 Jane arrived in Perth , Western Australia and shortly after took over as State Director for WA. After six years of significant business growth she was appointed to the Hays Australia & New Zealand management board in 2007.

In 2012 Jane moved to Sydney and now oversees Hays’ operations in New South Wales with board responsibility for Western Australia.

Jane has an MA in Psychology from Edinburgh University.

Follow Jane on LinkedIn