Spring is here – in the northern hemisphere at least. 

(Happy Autumn if you’re south of the Equator – the observations and suggestions below are for you, too). 

Spring is a time of refreshment and renewal. 

With lighter days and nature starting to show its splendour again, it’s a good time for the professional assistant to get into action and better flow. 

Where to focus attention and activity can be guided by observing the latest trends. Here are some pointers for the savvy PA, EA or VA. 

Space and Working Environment 

Spring is often a time when people think about redecoration, refurbishment and new furniture for their homes. 

Trends we are likely to see this year include: 

  • A move towards open plan living  
  • The creation of spaces for personal wellbeing, dubbed ‘self-spaces’ 
  • Making the most of natural light and ventilation 
  • Connecting indoor and outdoor spaces 
  • A theme of ‘less is more’, including decluttering and new ways of organising 

You can apply these principles to your workspace, too. 

Add plants to the office environment and even your desk. Reorganise things for less clutter and improved organisation. Get rid of non-essential items and recycle. Add some fresh paint or artwork to lift and a room and add some personality. 

If you’re working from home – and there’s room – it may be time to create a dedicated study or office area within your home. 

Hybrid and Flexible Working 

It looks as if the traditional 9-5 office life will fall by the wayside. 

In its place will be what’s called hybrid or flexible working. These phrases are hot-trending buzzwords at the moment. How it shapes up will be down to the organisation and its people. 

Some employees will work in the office full time. Some employees will work remotely, either from home or local working space. The norm may be a hybrid model where, for example, an employee works two days in the office, two days remotely and one down to their choice. 

If you work for an organisation, you may already have been asked by executives or managers about how you feel about all this. 

You might be someone who prefers to be in the office all or most of the time. If you’ve had the opportunity to work remotely from home, you may have enjoyed that experience and prefer that arrangement. 

Much will depend on the type of organisation you work for and how they like to operate. There may not always be a choice in some matters.  

If you’ve not been asked about how you’d like to work in future, it’s a good time to raise it. It’s an important subject, especially if your boss wants you to perform at your best. 

If you’re working for yourself, you’re in charge. You decide. 

What hours do you want to work? Do you want to work the whole week from home? Would you prefer to spend some of the time working from a café, in a business hub or in a co-working space? 

Co-Working Space 

I don’t have stats to hand, but anecdotal evidence suggests a trend towards professionals using co-working space. 

You may have seen buildings in your area offering hot desks, permanent desks, incubator space and small office space for hire. There are several reasons for that. 

Because organisations have been seeing fewer people in the office, some have chosen to reduce their floor space and move local teams into a hired office space. That’s usually, a cheaper and more flexible option. 

With ‘The Great Resignation’, some people have given up their jobs to go and try something else. Starting a new business might be the option they go for. If so, business hubs can offer them flexible space or incubator units. That helps to keep costs low until their business has grown sufficiently to move to something bigger. 

Many people used to the old daily commute are now working from home. But they still miss the office ‘experience’. Co-working spaces give them the opportunity to focus, yet also be around others and meet new business people. 

The same goes for the freelancer who doesn’t want to be at home all day. Having the option to spend one, two, three, four or even five days a week in a co-working space has big appeal. 

If you’re a VA who works alone, for example, you might find a couple of days a week in a co-working space is valuable. Not just on the social front but also for the networking and learning opportunities (some places offer lunchtime training sessions, for example). 

You might even find your next client there. 

Content Marketing 

It looks as if businesses are beginning to have more confidence in the future. That means they are likely to be doing more marketing. 

As a savvy assistant, you might want to review your Microsoft Office skills around content creation. 

According to HubSpot’s 2021 ‘Not Another State of Marketing Report’, the most popular forms of media used by marketing professionals are videos, blogs, infographics, case studies, interviews, eBooks, white papers and checklists. 

If you want to brush up or upgrade your skills, there are many online training courses out there. Including some of my own. 

Get better at Creating E-books and Lead Magnets in Word. Many marketing campaigns use funnels that revolve around this kind of content. 

Infographics remain popular with marketers. There’s a PowerPoint course that shows you how to create super ones. There’s a different one if you’re looking to create impactful Instagram posts with the same application. 

Knowing how to use Microsoft Office productively is good for your boss, your clients and yourself. Being able to do more in less makes you a more valuable player. 

Digital Transformation and the Cloud 

A bit like hybrid working and flexible working, digital transformation is another buzz phrase on-trend. 

You could see it as the movement towards the ‘paperless office’ but it’s more than that. 

This is about how organisations make their business more digital, including products and services. It also covers how organisations can better serve prospects and customers online. 

You will also see it emerging in communications strategies and collaboration management. Organisations are looking at how they can get people working together productively, efficiently and in an agile, flexible way. 

At the heart of solutions lie communications tools like Microsoft Office. It is no coincidence that one of the topics I’m most asked to deliver training on is Microsoft Teams. 

It is a very powerful platform but not yet fully utilised by many organisations. What it does mean for the PA, EA and VA is this. People’s perception is likely to be that you know how to use Teams, inside out. 

If that’s not the case, you may want to get to take a look at Essential Office for The Savvy Assistant which includes Essential Teams for The Savvy Assistant along with the Essentials of all the other Microsoft applications. 

Continuing Professional Development 

Because of world events, many organisations have been through a period of significant change. 

They’re now having to adjust to a new-look future, which is yet to take full shape and still presents a few uncertainties. 

This means, more than ever, they want to have the best talent on their team. The best outside help. 

This presents opportunities for the savvy assistant, who understands the value of building their experience and routinely improving their skills.  

I can see many organisations placing CPD higher up their priority agenda. Being able to develop existing talent is likely to be easier and cheaper than recruiting new hires. 

Think about what you can do to fill a skills gap or upgrade your worth. 

If using Microsoft Office applications still carries a bit of uncertainty or trepidation, this Spring might be the perfect time to get some training.

For the latest Windows 11-ready training, you may find exploring my new Essential Office Program is a good option. 

When you can do more for less, bosses and clients will love you. And you reap the benefits, too. You give yourself some time back each week. You reduce any stress and anxiety. You get noticed in a positive way. You can charge more. You open the doors to more possibilities. 

No time like the present. Go on. What will you do to spring into action this Spring? 

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney