The world around us is changing – and fast.

Organisations, executives, and other leaders and managers are having to adapt and plan to ride the waves of uncertainty across the globe. That means Assistants are also likely to have been experiencing shifts and transitions in their jobs, roles and responsibilities.

From the conversations I’ve been having with clients and connections, the discussions I’ve been seeing in the profession’s social media groups, and my general sense of the big picture, here are five trends I see influencing the career-focused Assistant today.

Trend #1: The Rise of AI, Automated Technology and AR

Tools driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) are seeping into almost every aspect of work for the professional Assistant today. Think ChatGPT and Copilot on Microsoft 365, for example. Even with their limitations, these AI-based tools are speeding up the way summaries, reports, articles, and other content and documents are created.

And then we have applications and software allowing us to automate processes and manage tasks with ease: time management, document templates and Styles, email management, appointment scheduling, project management and more.

The time and efficiency savings in carrying out routine administrative tasks is freeing up Assistants to focus on more important work for their client or boss. It’s why assessing and developing your skills as a Professional Assistant is so important for getting ahead.

Quick Tip: Explore how Copilot (or ChatGPT if you prefer) can save you time and hassle with your tasks.

Trend #2: The Shift Towards Remote and Hybrid Working

For many organisations since the global pandemic, there has been a significant shift towards the hybrid working model: some days in the office, some working from home or remotely.

Measures by some corporate brands to ‘force’ employees back to the office full-time, as part of ‘The Great Return’, have met with resistance and social media backlash. As Euronews reports, what organisations and employees want is not always the same.

The trend towards hybrid working suggests it may become the norm for many organisations. For today’s Assistant, it means understanding (a) how this may change how they work, (b) how to adapt, and (c) how this can create opportunities.

For the VA, you may notice very little change – you work virtually, anyway. You might find there are a wider range of alternatives beyond working from home. Using cafes, co-working spaces or business hubs are among the options.

For the EA and PA, you may find you have moved from a 100% in-office role to a hybrid working arrangement. The important thing is to ensure you can still deliver your support services from wherever you are. Remember to make your workspace as comfortable and ergonomically minded as you can. That goes for VA’s, too, of course.

Quick tip: Invest in the best set-up you can afford for comfortable workstation working. Probably the most important investment will be the chair you sit on.

Trend #3: Greater Focus on Soft Skills Development

As I have said many times before, organisations and clients expect their Assistant to know essential Microsoft Office and 365 like the back of their hand. Organisational and diary management skills, the same.

Beyond this, organisations tend to value Assistants who have a good, confident manner; a calm, unflappable approach to tasks, projects and situations; and can demonstrate they are both a team player and a ‘people person’.

Savvy Assistants understand the value of investing in personal growth and professional development as part of their career plan. And this makes so much sense.

Having the ability to manage your own emotions, empathise with other people and manage different personality types (and different leadership types) is a wonderful thing. In a global workplace, so is being able to communicate – with empathy, knowledge and understanding – with people from different cultural backgrounds.

Quick tip: Ask yourself the question: In what ways could I connect, engage and build stronger relationships with the people in my wider working ecosystem?

Trend #4: Assistants Standing Out and Speaking Up More

Traditionally, Assistants have not always been given the credit they deserve for the work that they do for their boss, bosses or clients.

It’s one of the reasons Lucy Brazier founded Executive Support Magazine. She and her team are passionate about changing the perception of the role so that businesses and other organisations understand how best to use (and reward) Assistants.

It’s good to see that more and more savvy Assistants are creating and developing a strong personal brand – and letting people know just how good they are (in an informative and helpful way, rather than anything boastful, of course).

May this welcome trend long continue. It is all part of how to get ahead as a Professional Assistant and advance your career.

Quick tip: Have you ever seen your boss or client doing a task and thought “I could do that for them”? If yes, why not suggest that they delegate that task to you?

Trend #5: Assistants Getting More Involved in Strategic Work

If you are a Senior Assistant, EA or possibly even a PA you may have noticed this yourself. Assistants are becoming more recognised for their value as strategic partners in decision-making.

Amanda Vinci, Founder and CEO of The EA Institute, talks about the strategic EA role in a 2023 LinkedIn piece.

Executives are realising that because their Assistant organises, communicates and handles so much of the boardroom, the Assistant has a unique perspective on the business. This means the Assistant can provide an observational viewpoint, suggest ideas and look for ways to improve how things are done.

With technology able to track and collate data, EAs may even be finding themselves in a form of data analytics role today. The role might include helping to identify trends, preparing reports and even coming up with ideas for strategic changes. This is where the role increasingly becomes more like business partner than just Assistant to the Executive.

For the ambitious Assistant, growing and advancing your skills in strategic thinking, systems thinking and data analytics may be a good move.

Quick tip: If you work for an organisation, see what opportunities there are for training – and ask the boss to invest in your CPD (for mutual benefit).

Keep an Eye on Trends to See the Bigger Picture

The value of trends is that they highlight where the world is heading towards. Knowing that gives you not only the bigger picture but will help you find insights into how to plan and grow your professional Assistant career.

Technology is constantly advancing . There is no doubt in my mind that those who embrace AI now will be doing better five years from now than those who currently ignore or shy away from it.

The five key trends here are all positive news for Assistants around the globe. It’s one thing having the knowledge. It’s another thing to use that knowledge for good advantage.

What are you waiting for?

Shelley Fishel - The MS Office Maestro

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