Most of us are currently following the stay at home orders that have been instituted all over the world. I have been hearing a lot of people saying things like “I just feel stuck” or “I feel like this is wasted time”.
The fact is, most of the world is in the same situation, so feeling like you are getting left behind as the world is moving forward simply isn’t the case, we are all in the same boat. Mindset is key in this situation. It’s important that you are choosing to see the silver lining of this extra time as the chance to use it however you feel works best for you. For some, that will mean some much needed down time, for others, it might be getting in that quality time with the kids that you have been missing. For others, it can be a time to grow your skills and knowledge to set you apart when the world returns to normal.
Here are some ideas of great ways to keep that stagnant feeling at bay!
Take an online class
Utilize some of the wonderful online learning platforms to deepen your software skills, learn about how other people in your field approach their tasks, or even to pick up a new hobby. If you don’t know where to start here are a few suggestions:
- MasterClass is a great site where famous experts in their field share their knowledge. Here you can learn to cook like Gordon Ramsey or critically think like Neil deGrasse Tyson. It is a bit pricier, but they are running a buy one, get one deal that you could split with a friend or colleague.
- Udemy is similar in concept to MasterClass with a wide range of subjects and price points. They also run great sales every few weeks with up to 90% off some courses.
- SkillShare is more targeted to the arts but features great content if you are looking to pick up a new hobby or are interested in an arts career, and they are running a free two-month trial.
Read a book
Normally our schedules are so packed with work, social events, and errands that we don’t have time to sit down and read a book. Check out the great selection of physical books available for delivery online or download an eBook from a respected person in your field, a great life coach, or a how-to book for a skill or hobby you are interested in.
Did you know we have a career coaching book available? Check out the HR Insider; how to land your dream job and keep it – available online at Chapters and Amazon!
Update your LinkedIn / Resume
If you are facing a career change or looking to grow your network, take some time to review your LinkedIn page and resume to ensure that it is up to date and the best reflection of you professionally so that recruiters or potential connections are more interested. Make sure to include keywords in your profile, so when recruiters are searching for candidates, your profile will have a higher change of popping up on their radar.
Practice your skills
Take this time to revisit the skills on your resume that you may have not used in a while. For example, if you have Excel as a top skill on your resume but haven’t been using it in your current role take some time to play around and assess where your skills are now and take steps to improve them.
Things like legitimate goal setting can get bumped off the to-do list easily. Take this time to sit down and map out some SMART goals for yourself for the short term and long term. If you set a 3-month goal, add a calendar alert to remind you to check in on your progress six weeks from now, and again at the goal date.
If you are looking toward applying for positions soon, ask a friend (or us!) to stage a practice interview with you. The earlier you do this practice interview the earlier you can identify gaps in your skillset that could help guide you to the best online courses to be taking now.
Turn your designated Amazon scrolling time into time where you “shop” for dream companies. This form of shopping will not cost you anything and may help you discover a new goal.
If you have (or discover) a company that you would love to work for, reach out on LinkedIn to see if you can arrange for an informational interview using Zoom or FaceTime. Although the recruiter at your dream company might not be immediately available to interview or meet with you, it’s still a great idea to throw your name out there and express your interest in case a suitable role opens up later down the road.
Develop your brand
Who do you want to be perceived as professionally? Do your LinkedIn, socials, and resume all reflect the same brand identity? If not, take some time and analyze what you should adjust to best represent yourself. If branding is not your strong suit that may be a great online class to take!
If there are any great things you have found to continue your professional development during this time we would love to hear about it!
Now that we are working as a 100% remote team, being away from each other daily has been the hardest adjustment for us.
As Leadership at Career Contacts, Andrea and I love planning impromptu ways to ensure the teams know we care. Under normal circumstances, that might mean team lunches or afternoon bubble tea runs (we clearly show our love through our stomachs).
Now that we can’t do these things, we’ve come up with new ways to show our team some love. We also took inspiration from what other organizations are doing and are offering and wanted to share!
Before we begin, we must recognize and acknowledge that this is a really hard time for companies financially so big expensive gestures are not ideal.
Here are some modest ways to show appreciation, while still maintaining a sense of fiscal responsibility.
1. Don’t stop celebrating birthdays
Let your remote teams know you’ve remembered by planning a surprise virtual birthday party. Everyone can show up whatever video platform you’re using with a sign telling them why they are appreciated.
The cost is low, the time to plan is light and most importantly, the impact is high.
2. Remind them that you care
Once a week, I try to make sure that I text my external remote team that I don’t see everyday with a message reminding them that I am thinking of them, missing them, and appreciating them.
It’s a small gesture to let them know that while I know things are hard, they are our number one priority within the Career Contacts family.
3. Put a twist on old ways of showing appreciation
For those with a little bit of a budget constraint, we have planned a team lunch. Each member will order their favorite lunch and Andrea and I will have it delivered to their homes (no contact, social distancing protocols intact). This way, we can all have lunch together as a team and bring back the “pre-COVID” feeling.
NO BUDGET? NO PROBLEM!
To modify this idea, simply ask your remote teams to grab their own lunches from home and join you for lunch together online. Spend the time asking everyone how they are doing, chat about new shows and podcasts; anything but work!
4. Have fun
We know there are a lot of end of week happy hours and so many creative ways to bond. One thing we love doing is hopping onto video chatting apps (like Houseparty) and having some fun. It’s a really fun app that allows you to play games, and get creative with how you connect. Everyone brings their favorite 5pm drink, and it’s a blast seeing everyone’s personalities through a drink. Martinis, Cokes, hot water and lemon – we’ve seen it all!
5. Don’t forget to add real value
With most teams working 100% virtually, do you know what your remote teams’ current work scenario looks like?
Our teams were able to take home technology and supplies from the office to ensure that they had the tools they required, and each already had ideal work setups.
it’s easy to forget that home offices may not be designed for comfort and safety over a full work day.
Noisy kids and many distractions aside, many employees are now using makeshift workstations that could produce a host of physical problems ranging from muscle strains to nerve impairments.
Career Contacts has secured discount pricing with Community Therapists, a MetroVancouver provider of telehealth occupational therapy, physiotherapy and kinesiology.
Click here for details about their Workplace Health services or here to get in touch with their office to learn more.
Mention Career Contacts preferred pricing available now during the Covid-19 pandemic.
NOTE: Career Contacts does not benefit from this partnership, and is simply providing our network with a really great option to ensure their teams are feeling supported.
As always, our Human Resource Consulting team are here to support you and your teams in any way we can! Feel free to contact us today!
Now that I’ve been working from home, I’ve been taking advantage of the extra downtime by doing things I normally wouldn’t have time to do. One of the things I’ve been enjoying is listening to podcasts – it’s something I’ve always wanted to get into but never get around to.
Whether it’s educational podcasts, crime/mystery podcasts (my personal favourite category!), or lifestyle podcasts, there’s something for every mood I’m in. Below are the five podcasts that are currently on my Spotify rotation:
Optimal Finance Daily
I’ve always felt finance was a daunting subject, so I kept putting off learning about. But now that I’m stuck at home 24 hours a day, there’s no excuse for me to procrastinate. This podcast is great because each episode is about 10 minutes long and gives very digestible and accessible information. Topics range from “Should I buy or rent my home” to “Preparing for financial emergencies or unexpected expenses.” They put out a new episode daily, so there is always something new to learn about!
The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health (@quickdirtytips)
This is an all-time favourite podcast of mine because it applies psychology to all areas of life and covers a diverse range of topics. I am a bit of a psychology nerd (I majored in it in university, after all!) so I love listening to how psychology affects daily life. The episodes are highly accessible, and topics range from “How to stay calm during the coronavirus crisis” to “How to overcome your fear of driving.”
Girls Gotta Eat (@girlsgottaeatpodcast)
This is the type of podcast that is equivalent to trashy reality shows. If you like “Love is Blind” or “The Bachelor,” this is the podcast for you. This is a great podcast to have on if you are feeling lonely or isolated because the hosts make it seem like you are a part of one big slumber party. The podcast is mainly focused on love and relationships, but they tackle the topic in a very comical and relatable manner.
TED Talks Daily (@ted)
I love this podcast for when I’m not sure what to listen to, because they cover such a wide range of topics. Every episode is presented by a different speaker who specializes in a specific field. Topics can range from discussing artificial intelligence to healthy eating habits to racial tensions in America – there is truly an episode for every topic out there.
My Favorite Murder (@myfavoritemurder)
I’ve also been fascinated with crime and mystery and this podcast presents criminal cases in a light-hearted way (in fact, the podcast is under the “comedy” section on Spotify!). Each episode is about 40 minutes long, so I love having this play in the background while I am cleaning or organizing.
I’m curious to know what podcasts you are currently into right now! Please share in the comments below 😊
Anxiety is essentially our brain’s response to imminent danger; for someone with an anxiety disorder that signal functions less like a motion light and more like a lighthouse. But in a time like this where that signal is firing for so many people all around the planet, knowing how to support your team members and loved ones with already present anxiety issues is more important than ever.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when speaking to someone struggling with anxiety:
Don’t downplay their feelings…
Everyone is entitled to how they are feeling. Saying things like “don’t get worked up,” “everyone feels like this,” and “it really isn’t a big deal,” while coming from a place of helpfulness can have the opposite effect. In this global climate, suggesting that being fearful is overreacting can cause their anxiety to shift to worrying that you may not be taking the appropriate precautions which just adds more things to the list of worries on their mind. Also, it may be second nature to suggest that it is not a unique feeling and attempt to offer perspective with “at least…” statements but that can make it seem like their anxiety is not as valid as someone else’s, which can cause feelings of guilt.
…but don’t feed into them
Sometimes talking about their feelings is the only way for someone to process them but put effort into not letting the entire conversation be driven by anxiety. Offer your compassion and interest with statements like, “what could I do to help you right now” or “would you like me to offer advice or do you just need someone to listen.” Once the conversation is settling, change the subject to something more lighthearted by asking a simple question like, “I am running out of things to watch, have you watched any great shows lately that I should check out?”, something that will shift the thought process away from stress. It is important to try to end the call on a lighter topic so that they are not hanging up only to sit with their anxiety again, especially in a time where there is not much else going on to distract us.
If this person is a team member and you have only been connecting during work hours about work-related things, remember that everyone in some way or another is struggling right now and probably feeling lonely. So, showing that you care about them as a person separate from work can be impactful. Touch base by simply sending a text just to check in, share a funny Instagram post that made you think of them, or even give them a casual call to chat and show you care.
If you have a friend that you maybe haven’t connected with in a while use this time as an opportunity. How many times do we say, “I need to call this person” and then get busy with life or can never connect with them because of opposite schedules? This is the perfect time to reconnect and let someone know you are thinking about them and there for them during this challenging time.
If you are busy juggling kids, family, and work during this time and are not available for a phone check in often, still keep in touch and offer something to keep them busy like a show recommendation, a Spotify playlist you made for them, or a great eBook they could download. Small gestures and small distractions will be very helpful.
Keep your routine
Nearly everyone is functioning on a new routine right now, try to maintain elements of your old routine as much as possible. If you have a team that always eats lunch together on Monday, do a Zoom lunch. If you always go to brunch with your friend on Saturday, turn on FaceTime and chat with each other while you make brunch from home. Keeping as much normalcy as possible while also doing your part to keep yourself and everyone else safe will be beneficial for the mental health of everyone involved.
Make a new routine
If you have something in your routine that really cannot be replicated virtually, like a weekly hockey game or bar trivia, get creative and stay connected during that time anyway. The less time we have idle to feel alone, the less time we will have to ruminate on our anxieties. Have an online board game night with those old Yahoo! Games everyone used to play before iPhones, watch a YouTube drawing tutorial and find out who is the better artist, just do something new and fun together until you can actually be together again.
You may try to maintain your routines, say all the right things, and it might not feel like it is helping. You may suggest virtual activities in lieu of the physical ones and you may get turned down. Be patient and be flexible. This is a new journey for everyone, and everyone is going to approach it differently. Don’t get angry or stop reaching out to your friends who pull away. Continue to check in and be okay with no response, just continue to make it clear that you care and are here for them. If one of your team members would rather skip the virtual lunch to take a nap, let them. This whole process is exhausting for everyone, especially those with anxiety disorders.
Everyone is going to approach this differently. If they are being responsible, social distancing, and protecting themselves and others, everything else is their own prerogative. Just be understanding and judgement free.
The most important thing is to remember that everyone is struggling right now, and to pay extra care to the people we know were struggling before. The most valuable thing that any of us can do right now, aside from staying home, is to continue to foster our connections and stay united even in our physical isolation.
If you have any questions about team building and employee support, please reach out to
We are officially on week 3 of a 100% virtual Recruitment and HR team and although we miss being in the same physical space, we are also really proud to be doing our part and staying home.
As a newly formed remote team, we have been feeling really connected after creating our own process and thought we would share some of our favorite “social” events.
Virtual Happy Hour
Every Friday, we get our entire extended remote team together for a virtual happy hour. We all catch up on how we are doing, our wins, our struggles and just support one another. This isn’t about productivity, it’s about genuine connection.
We care about each other and want to make sure we are all ok. We are in this together so it’s important that we all know we can lean on one another.
It’s also a fun time to brainstorm new ideas and get our whole team together!
In smaller remote groups, we connect by video or phone, with a coffee in hand. These are generally shorter connections with only a few people, to connect on a deeper level. This might be to solve a work problem, come up with some new ways of supporting client, or simply be a way to download the day on to someone that cares.
Online Work Outs
Our team loves to snack – we might be some of the best snackers out there! We also like to stay in touch and keep active. When we were all together, we’d challenge each other to take the long walk back after lunch or encourage someone to get to the evening workout class.
Now, with so many amazing gyms and trainers putting on online class, we can log in together, and do similar works outs. We have not let go of our roots though, and always share the best snack finds; and have a new list of office snacks ready to go when we can all be together again!
In keeping with the healthy lifestyle goals, we can hold each other accountable remotely for our own personal goals. We are more than just what we do for a living, and at Career Contacts, we want everyone’s personal goals to matter just as much as their work goals. We are all about bringing your whole self to the job – fitness goals and all! Whether this means challenging each other with our health, fitness, education, side hustles or big dreams, we push each other to be the best versions of ourselves when we need it most!
Virtual Spa Days
The week that things got serious for us (about a month ago now), we had an employee spa day planned. We, as owners of the business, wanted to celebrate our teams and ensure that they never forgot how much we appreciate the work that they do, and the trust that they put in us.
Now that we are working from home, as a remote team, we are finding new ways to ensure that our teams are still focused on self care and making sure we still get to treat our teams in a small way.
Overall, what we have seen is that our teams care about staying connected more than anything else. The work continues (albeit at a slower pace) and clients trust that we are doing whatever it takes to get them what they need. We are also ensuring that our teams are taking advantage of this time to spend time on themselves, with their loved ones, and have a team of champions in their corner to do it!