When I said good night to my colleagues on March 13th, 2020, I didn’t think it would take almost a year for us to do so in person again. This pandemic has disrupted how we work in so many ways. Our roles have shifted as we respond to service changes and user needs. Our interactions with colleagues have become limited – whether you’re in the field and have to socially distance or work from home and can only connect virtually.

One thing I do miss is the knowledge exchange that happens when working with others. All the little tidbits and facts that spark my interest, somehow plant themselves deep in my mind, keep me sharp, and in tune with innovative developments. While working from home, I have to be more proactive and thoughtful in how I obtain fresh ideas. It can’t happen in passing, and I can’t rely on my office environment to keep my mind fed. It’s become increasingly challenging to gain new knowledge or skills.

For those of us who have families or children to care for at home, it can be tricky to carve out time for professional development. Most of us are operating in ‘survival mode’ and have hit pause on taking care of ourselves and our growth.

But these are exceptional times, and even though staying at home (for those who can) is helping us overcome this crisis, we still need to make sure that we remain flexible and adaptable. Even in our current roles, we may be able to test out new skills or responsibilities in low-risk ways. What we want to avoid is getting stuck. This is important for career development all the time, but particularly during the current pandemic, where COVID-19 has made visible the cracks in our system. These cracks won’t be fixed with ‘business as usual’, they need new ways of thinking, a refresh on existing processes and proactive solutions that shift how we work.

So join me in taking a few minutes a day, or an hour a week, whatever your pace might be, to devote to career development. With the help of the Homelessness Learning Hub, you get training, resources and tools from sector experts who’ll help you stay on top of what’s new in homelessness research. Registration is FREE, and you can access all of our learning materials instantly. Don’t forget to subscribe to the #HLHub newsletter; it provides you with updates on new and upcoming training and resources. This back to school season can be a fresh start for you too!