5 Ways to Stay Ahead at Work

Without a doubt, lockdown is a strange time. It’s also a great opportunity to stay ahead at work

You may find yourself with more available time, but it’s essential to remain focused to stay ahead at work.  Maybe your role is more important than ever at this critical time. You may want to use the opportunity to prove yourself. Maybe you simply want to take advantage of the time in the best possible way.

There will inevitably be winners and losers arising from the current situation. The rules of the game are evolving quickly for many, for some, the game has shifted entirely. Many organizations are affected as much as the individuals that support them.

The outcomes and the time period of the current situation are currently unknown. This is not something that any of us can control or even influence. However, we can control our own actions.

I’ve got some tips to help you to stay ahead during the lockdown and otherwise. I want you to be as prepared as you can for your next chapter, when life resumes. However the landscape might look.

In this blog, I cover 5 things to do now to stay ahead at work. In my next blog, I’ll cover 5 more things to ensure that you’re looking up and looking forward.

5 things to do NOW to stay ahead at work

stay ahead at work

1. Know what’s expected

It’s one thing knowing what’s expected at the best of times (and this isn’t always crystal clear) but the rules changed pretty much overnight. Ensure you know what’s expected of you in terms of the content of your role, as much as the homeworking policies.

Make sure you have a clear list of responsibilities and objectives which are relevant now. Check in with your manager and other team members to ensure that you are all aligned.

Extra – be the one that’s driving this discussion!

If what’s being expected is not reasonable, make this known in a mature and diplomatic way, even if it’s not necessarily the right time for this to be addressed. It could be that others are sat around twiddling their thumbs, while you’re working 24/7.

stay ahead at work

2. Play the game

To a certain extent, fulfilling any role can be like playing a game. Once you’ve clarified expectations, ensure that you play along to the best of your abilities. This is not a game to be won, but rather, you’re playing your part in the bigger game. The cog in the machine, if you like.

This is particularly relevant if your role interacts with many other roles. Each cog in the machine really needs to do what’s expected at this point to ensure smooth running of different operations. This is more important now than ever.

Extra – Ensure smooth running of those around you by managing your stakeholders and the wider processes.  If processes haven’t been clearly defined & documented, this could be an opportune moment.

3. Communicate to stay ahead at work

Assuming most people are now working remotely, communication is more important than ever. Whether it’s organized calls, periodic check-ins or emails providing inputs/instructions – pay close attention to the messages and signs you are communicating.

Ensure your content is clear and succinct. Also play attention to the tone you use. This is the principle way you are currently ‘showing up’ to others, so make it positive and pleasant.

Take extra time to review messages before you send them.

Extra – Plan how you might want to come across ahead of time. Make each communication count. Ask for feedback if you’re brave!


4. Check-In

This is not about clocking in & out, but rather checking in with others to make sure they’re ok. If you’re normally a friendly person, this should come naturally. However, if this comes less naturally, find ways that sit OK with you.

If you’re the manager, this is actually an important part of your role right now. Ideas include:

  • Team meetings with an opportunity to check in with everyone
  • 1:1 calls with all team members
  • Periodic chats and calls
  • Team Motivational Map – this will not only show you your individual motivators but that of your team, helping you clarify what it is that keeps your team motivated.

This is human decency – make sure you’re remembered in a positive light!

Extra – Be tuned in to the different styles of people that you interact with. Use your Emotional Intelligence (EQ), look out for clues in what people say and listen/respond appropriately.

stay ahead at work pandemic

5. Be mindful of Mental Health

These are trying times for most people. We’ve been thrown into this alien situation with little choice and limited notice. While some people may be struggling, for others it could be a total nightmare for a whole host of reasons.

First and foremost, be kind to yourself: “Put your own oxygen mask on first”. Do whatever it is you need to do to make sure you’re ok. Set boundaries in terms of working hours, take regular breaks, get some exercise or do something you enjoy.

Also, look out for signs in others. Encourage colleagues and team members to look after themselves. Encourage them to talk, if this helps.

At Blue Diamond we are here to listen and support you and this could be through 1:1 Coaching or through our Essential Skills Workshop – for more information click here.

Extra – Accept that it’s ok not to be ok sometimes. Be kind and open to yourself. Show compassion and empathy to others. Be prepared to accept and show a little vulnerability.



The outcomes and the timing of the lockdown are currently unknown. This is not something that any of us can control or even influence. However, we can control our own actions.

I want you to be as prepared as you can for your next chapter, when life resumes. Whatever that might look like.

In this blog, I covered 5 things to do now to stay ahead. I trust these make sense and that you can find ways to apply them, if you’re not already.

In a sister blog, I cover 5 more things to ensure that you’re looking up and looking forward.


Thanks for reading. Check out other Blue Diamond articles to help you take control of your work and life.