Our lives, culture, and society are changing with every day that passes right now. As our world struggles to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the patterns and habits we are accustomed to are rapidly shifting. For many of us, these shifts include major changes in our workplaces.
Like many of you, I’m having my first experience of truly working from home due to my office closing our physical space. Sure, I’ve done a day from home once or twice before, but that is so different than what’s happening now. My firm is closed indefinitely.
Others aren’t struggling with being stuck at home, but instead are struggling with having to be out there, stocking our store shelves, caring for our sick, keeping our basic systems of energy and utilities running.
No matter the circumstances you find yourself facing, one truth is clear: now is the time to be indispensable in your job.
As each day brings new challenges and problems to our workplaces, the people in charge are going to start noticing the folks that stand out. Those people are going to be the ones that not only survive this strange period of time but actually come out ahead in the aftermath.
Every new critical issue that pops up will need someone to step forward and say “I’ll handle that”. Every shift that gets thinner due to illness or fear will need some stalwart employees to show up and get the work done. Every unknown path your company has to take will need a trailblazer to say “I’ll go first.”
I’m a proponent of working hard, constant learning, and being dependable every day, all year long, when it comes to my job. I do not always like to go to work. There are many days that I would like to take a mental health day, or slack my way through work hours, or half-ass the draft of some document. But I choose to show up and do the work because I want to be a valuable employee instead of just another ass in a chair.
The unfortunate reality is that many folks are going to be impacted if businesses shut down or jobs are cut. Not everyone is going to make it through the next several weeks or months with their job and paycheck intact.
But the wonderful thing is that this moment in time is presenting a unique opportunity for people who are willing to show up, stand up, and put in the effort.
Valuable employees are noticed by people in important positions. Managers notice who works hard, who does quality work, who picks up someone else’s slack, and who coasts through the day.
Valuable employees, the ones not coasting, are an important asset to any company. They are the people that management makes exceptions for or rewards at the end of the year. They are the ones that people rely on and respect. They are the ones that companies want to hold on to.
And right now, at this critical moment, anyone has the chance to become a valuable employee.
And it’s simple. When someone sends an email that says “We need someone to develop a way to track status for X” or someone asks “Can anyone work a few extra hours?” or your manager mentions how X store is really struggling, you simply respond “I can help with that”.
You raise your hand. You step forward to volunteer to spearhead something. You figure out a solution and you go to your boss with it.
No one has all the answers right now. But the people who are willing to try are going to make an impact. We are all figuring things out as we go. And if you are willing to put yourself out there, this is a chance to take a step forward in your career or job.
There is a chance that how you respond over the next days and weeks will determine your whole future career.
Maybe it will open doors within your company. Maybe it will impress a manager enough that they will be a reference for you for your next job. Maybe the only change will be that you begin to see yourself as someone strong and capable and that will fundamentally change your life.
Now is the time to step up. Now is the time to raise your hand. Now is the time to become a person your company can’t live without.