Using isolation constructively - Fourteen ideas to move you forward & keep you sane

By Nicole Donegan, COO Women on Boards, working from home in Melbourne

Isolation is a challenging time for everyone.  In addition to the clear health concerns around COVID-19, we are confronted with overwhelming challenges including changes to our working conditions in the form of lay-offs, stand-downs, reduced hours, working longer and harder and working from home.

We are also facing changes to our daily routine, which for many of us means that we are neglecting simple things we used to take for granted. At WOB we're hearing stories of members omitting simple things, such as reading the news during their commute or undertaking personal and professional development activities, like listening to podcasts.

But one thing that has not changed in its most basic form is governance. In fact, it's more important than ever before. Boards must still comply with their governance timelines and constitutional requirements, including recruiting new directors.

So......we strongly encourage you to persist with your boardroom journey during COVID-19. One good reason is that at the end of this unprecedented time, there are likely to be new opportunities that you will be well positioned for.

If you can, use your extra time at home constructively.  Here's 14 things you can do:

1. Set up a routine

One of the hardest things we are all facing is a change to our routine. It's important to develop a new routine for yourself that will enable you to focus on things YOU need to do to further YOUR journey. We suggest either a short block each day (e.g. when you'd normally be on your commute) or a couple of hours a week. Mark it in your diary as an appointment.

2. Pour yourself a coffee or tea

This is mandatory! Simple pleasures are essential at the moment.

3. Update your WOB Profile

Your WOB profile lets us know how you want us to provide information to you, including boad vacancies and communication. It also tells other members about you (if your profile is public). Make sure:

  • You're subscribed to receive emails;
  • Have selected your target areas for board roles (so we can match you); and
  • You're visible to other members.

More information here.

4. Make the first move - reach out and connect 

  • If you've attended a WOB event you will have received the participant list.  Send an email to someone you met.
  • Browse WOB member profiles - find other WOB members from your organisation, industry or sector. Reach out via email. You might also like to find people with similar experience and board aspirations and  ask them for some pointers. Remember, WOB is a network of reciprocity. Reach out by making your profile public. 
  • Stay tuned for WOBShare, which we are currently beta testing. It will allow members to communicate directly in forums. It's going to be fantastic!

5. Update your LinkedIn profile

Most people have a forgotten profile that they glance at once a year.  Now's the time to update yours:

  • Include recent achievements / projects and awards.
  • Contact colleagues and ask them to endorse you.
  • Endorse fellow colleagues.
  • Link with new people.

6. Get inspired

If you're finding it hard to motivate yourself, browse some of our success stories to get some inspiration.

7. Develop or update your Board CV

A board CV is different to a professional CV. It should be concise and succinctly outline your proxy skills and experience. Here's some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your board CV outline you key skills and competencies?
  • Is your board CV two pages or less?
  • Would a nominations committee garner an understanding of what you bring 'at a glance' - remember they're often reading up to a hundred applications, so yours needs to stand out.

8. Update your pro-forma cover letters

Cover letters are just as important as your CV - sometimes it's all that gets read. Some tips:

  • Ensure it's kept to a page and contains the reason you want to join the board + a succinct summary of your fit.  
  • Get a friend to read it. Does it encapsulate you? It's always beneficial to get an external perspective.
  • Members can access our sample cover letters here.

9. Apply for a board position

There are always new positions advertised with WOB - even now! We currently have 118 listed (06/04/20).

Have a go and apply. If it's your first board role this article might help.

10. Listen to a WOB Podcast

Go to one of the podcast platforms and search a term you're interested in or a person you'd like to hear more about. You can make a start with our new series here.

11. Follow us on Social Media

Follow WOB on LinkedInFaceBook and Twitter for relevant news and updates and to share your perspective. Just click on the links and like / follow our pages.

12. Undertake online learning

Identify any skills gaps you have and undertake some online training. Many organisations are converting their training to virtual delivery at the moment.  WOB also has a range of courses and also recommends The Governance Institute (TGI). Take the time to look. Stay tuned for special member pricing we are currently negotiating with TGI.

13. Find a mentor

Many senior women attest to the importance of mentors to achieving professional success and satisfaction in life. The Women on Boards mentoring program (My Mentor) has been critical in the success of many women in the WOB network. Find out more here.

14. Stay focussed  - develop a list

Lastly we encourage you to develop a list of the actions you plan to take. Get yourself organised and focused. If you have a definitive list, with targets and time frame, it will encourage you to take action and provide a sense of achievement when you can tick off that item.

If you're feeling lost or don't know where start, remember we are here to help.  So get in touch.