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?
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.
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 know how to use Microsoft Teams or follow my other dedicated course on the topic, the Assistants Guide to Taming Microsoft Teams and to get savvy across all of Microsoft Office 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. You could do that piecemeal, bit by bit, or get access to a complete set of training like The Hub.
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?