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Working From Home Guide

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As many of us have been plunged into working from home for the first time without warning, we may be struggling with where to start. Our normal routine has changed entirely leaving a lot of us wondering how you keep yourself motivated and productive. Read on for our top tips on making the most of working from home. 

 

1.  Working Space


When it comes to setting up your working from home environment there is no one size fits all approach. While some people prefer one dedicated desk area that resembles an office work station, others prefer to change their environment throughout the day whether it be to sit at a desk space/their kitchen table for work that requires focus and concentration, their patio area for business calls/team meetings or their couch for catching up on emails. This is one of the key benefits of working from home - you get to decide on your ideal office set-up. 

 

However, while it can be tempting to lie in bed on your laptop all day, you are likely to tire of this and hurt your neck or back. What you want is a dedicated space that allows you to work productively with minimum distraction. Having a dedicated space also signals to your brain that you’re “at work” and puts you in the mind-frame of being productive. 

 

If working from home is a temporary measure for coronavirus, you probably don’t have that much equipment beyond a laptop. Laptops have bad ergonomics so it might be an idea to rise it on a pile of books and get a USB keyboard and mouse and treat it as a desktop. Or if you are enjoying working from home and see yourself continuing to work from home beyond coronavirus perhaps invest in a docking station and a second monitor. 

 

Stand-up desks are another popular option. A bar table or even a wide and tall surface in your home may be suitable for a couple hours a day. Switching your desk may energise you and increase your productivity for certain tasks. 

 

Finally, don’t forget to check your tech! Ensuring good connectivity at all times is fairly important for most online workers. Be prepared for an outage by having a back-up such as a mobile plan with extra data or a mobile router. After that make sure you have all the technology and tools you need to work effectively. From email and video conference software to collaboration tools - some of these may be new to you so take the time to get to grips with the basics. 

  


2.  Routine


As mentioned, our normal routine has been changed, we’re no longer commuting, grabbing a coffee at the café around the corner from the office, chatting to colleagues in the canteen, attending meetings, visiting clients etc. Therefore, you will need to make a new routine to work from home. 

  

Triggers

It’s important to identify “triggers” for yourself that signal to your brain that you are in work mode. Every article you read will tell you to make sure you get up and get dressed, while it is tempting to stay in your pyjamas for an hour, that hour can easily slip into a full day. After this incorporate the parts of your old routine that you benefitted from. Perhaps you enjoyed walking to work in the morning as it woke you up, if so, get outside for a walk first thing. Have a coffee in your garden/on your balcony to replace the one you had in your local café. Do an at home workout if you used to go to the gym in the morning. Set reminders to get away from your desk for five minutes every so often to mimic the breaks you took in the office to grab a coffee in the kitchen. 

  

Structure

You are your own personal manager when working from home. Without things like in-person meetings to break your day, it can be easy to lose focus. Also your motivation naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day, so set yourself a schedule. List what you’ll do and then block times on your calendar as to when you will work on them. For me personally I like to block the first 2 hours of every morning for writing tasks as I find that’s when I am at my most creative. I then try to schedule video calls and meetings for the afternoon when I find my productivity is waning. 

Make sure to set fixed working hours for yourself. It can be tempting to stay logged on long past when you said you will finish but it is best to set up a consistent schedule with yourself so that you can make a clean break between “work” and “home”. 

  

Kill distractions

Working from home and particularly at the moment it can be easy to let yourself be consumed by the news and social media. To counteract this, remove social networks from your internet browser bookmarks and log out of every account. Or create a work bookmark list and a personal bookmark list. Your work bookmark list will only consist of the bookmarks you need for your job and the personal list can include your social networks. You can hide your personal bookmark list during your working day to remove the impulse to click into social networks. 

  

 


3. Stay Connected


Naturally, given the anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and being unexpectedly thrown into working from home, it is natural to feel isolated. 

Instant messaging and video conferencing tools can make it easy to check in with your colleagues so make sure to schedule in some “non-work” related chats with your colleagues. Here in Sigmar, we schedule virtual coffee breaks with our colleagues, a ten-minute call to check in with each other and to have a chit-chat. This helps maintain team bonds and provides some light relief throughout your day.  

 


4.  Give Yourself a Break


Being thrown into working from home, employees can often be harder on themselves about their productivity levels as they forget about the amount of distractions that come with working in an office environment. You might not have scheduled your coffee breaks when you worked in the office but regular breaks are important for maintaining focus and productivity so don’t be afraid to include them in your schedule. 

It could be a simple 10-minute break for a coffee or a snack or a few minutes to read an interesting article. Ideally, you should try to get some outdoor time during your lunch break too, so you don’t go stir crazy.  

Ultimately, what works best will vary from person to person so don’t be afraid to try things out over the next few weeks until you find your ideal set-up and structure. The most important thing is to find what helps you  stay focused, while maintain a work life balance. 

Posted by Julia Purcell on 26 March 2020

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IT Jobs Market 2021

IT Jobs Market 2021

2020 was an interesting year for Ireland’s IT jobs market with the initial impact of Covid causing some companies to reassess their recruitment practices - either pausing or freezing completely. However, most sectors have bounced back since March and we even saw some companies take advantage of a less competitive market and increased their hiring plans. In 2021, we expect to see a release of this “pent-up demand” for candidates as businesses begin to move back towards BAU models. Digital Transformation Digital transformation projects that typically would have taken years to plan happened practically overnight or over a few weeks as COVID-19 restrictions forced companies to speed up their digital adaptions in what became an “adapt or die” environment. 2021 will see a further increase in demand for individuals with digital transformation experience as companies accelerate further the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions and of their internal operations.   Companies who failed to innovate or tweak their processes to suit the demand of the market felt a larger impact than companies who remained agile and changed quickly depending on the market demands. Consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels during the pandemic, so companies are having to create digital or digitally enhanced offerings in response. Cybersecurity Unsurprisingly with the adoption of remote work and the planning for transition to the next “normal”, we have seen huge demand for infrastructure and security professionals which we foresee continuing in 2021. As organisations pivoted to work from home models, security engineers rushed to establish secure connections and prevent network threats that targeted remote workers. At the same time, with the surge in online shopping and e-commerce transactions, they had to bolster their organisation’s e-commerce platforms. 2021 will see organisations continue to increase their spend on cybersecurity as companies look to how they will operate in a post-pandemic world. With many organisations such as Google planning for a “Hybrid” work-from-home model, i.e. employees working a few days in the office and a few at home, network security will be a priority. MedTech, Life Sciences and Healthcare Given how health has never been more in focus than it has been in the past year, it is perhaps no surprise that there has been a huge demand for IT professionals in the wider health industry. MedTech and Life Sciences companies are continually developing new and innovative treatments and consequentially developing technologies to enable this. We have seen an increase in demand of more “hybrid roles” such as IT professionals with experience working specifically within class 1 medical devices fields. Biotech and digital transformation within gene cell therapy in particular is set to be a large growth area for 2021. Connected health is set to be a large growth area for 2021 also, as medical practices are forced to digitize and with telehealth being forecast to grow exponentially. Candidate-led Market Despite the initial dip in March 2020, the market very much remains candidate driven. Particularly now as candidates are no longer bound to jobs within commuting distance of the office. Regional talent pools have flourished as candidates who would have worked in major cities, now have the opportunity to work remotely meaning they can move to their preferred location and still do the same job on the same salary as before. Regional companies also benefited as they are now able to tap into larger talent pools due to remote working practices. Perhaps what has been most surprising about 2020, is that salaries have stayed relatively stable, but candidates have been seeking increases in their packages over base. With the increase in remote working opportunities, candidates are no longer distracted by “bells and whistles” (free food, ping pong tables etc.) and instead are more interested in actual projects, technologies being used and career growth and progression. Therefore, our advice to employers is consider how you are marketing your positions. Contractors We saw in our 2020 Q3 survey findings that many businesses looked to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams while coping with the uncertainty in the market due to COVID-19. From recent discussions with our clients this trend is likely to continue in 2021. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles for Frontend/Fullstack Developers, DevOps Engineers and Data Analysts. As a result of the increase in demand, contract rates have been on the rise. With many large and SME organisations reverting to remote work this has opened the market up to all areas of Ireland. A big trend is seeing Contractors based in the regions now being able to work for the large organisations in the cities and receive the same rates of those based in the cities. Therefore, rates in the regional areas of Ireland have increased due to the remote access of new roles in the industry. All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT jobs market in 2021 with plentiful opportunities across digital transformation, cybersecurity, MedTech, pharma etc. The roll-out of the vaccine should increase confidence and create further opportunities as the year progresses. Download our IT Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF)

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Salary Guide 2021

Salary Guide 2021

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Improve your chance of finding a job during COVID-19

Improve your chance of finding a job during COVID-19

Taken from : How to land a job during COVID-19 by Michael Malone (Galway Daily) ​With Level 5 set to last for around four more weeks and uncertainty about what restrictions will be in place in the coming months, those in search of a new job may feel they are facing an uphill battle.  But for those on the job hunt during the pandemic, it is important not to give up. That’s according to Sarah Hayes of Sigmar Recruitment, who says that there are a number of things people can do to improve their likelihood of finding a job.  ​ “Look at what is in your span of control and be proactive,” says Sarah. “The labour market has turned on its head since March and is constantly changing with government restrictions being implemented.  “But it’s important not to give up as there are companies still hiring.”   Top 6 tips to improve your chance of finding a job during COVID-19 1. Analyse the market Where are the jobs right now? Well, there are certain sectors that have been decimated by the pandemic, but others are still going strong. For example, DPD have just announced that they are expanding their operations and will create 700 jobs before the end of the year. Sigmar is hiring most across Manufacturing & Engineering, Technology & IT, Construction, E-Commerce, Customer Service, Health & Safety and Supply Chain & Logistics. The Lifesciences/ Pharmaceutical sector is busier than ever right now, with resumed elective surgeries, vaccine development, diagnostic testing and respiratory device production. Many companies are looking for multilingual speakers, for whom there is a great demand. So if you speak more than just English, there are opportunities out there. Familiarise yourself with who is hiring – keep an eye on the news, set up job alerts on the jobs boards, follow companies on LinkedIn, identify a recruitment consultant that recruits in your area and ask them to keep you updated on the market.     2. Market yourself Your cover letter, CV and your LinkedIn profile are your primary tools to market yourself. Prepare your CV, spend time on it and ask a recruitment consultant to help you to get it right (they will do this free of charge). Your CV and cover letter should always be tailored for the role you are applying for. Look at the job spec and mirror it back in your CV. It is also extremely important to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. Make sure you have a profile picture, create a compelling summary, add your projects, populate the skills section, and remember when recruiters and even bots are searching for profiles they search for keywords and buzzwords. If you don’t have these, then your profile might be missed. Change your status to ‘Open to new opportunities’ and get active on LinkedIn – don’t just sit back and wait for someone to contact you! Connect with hiring managers and HR professionals in the companies you want to work for, send them your CV directly and ask them whether they are hiring. You should also follow the company pages so that new job announcements will show up in your news feed, in case you miss your dream job!   3. Network online Joining groups and forums relevant to the job you are looking for and skills that you have can be a great way to build connections and relationships with people who have similar profiles. Networking can be a great way of finding a job – some experts say that over 70% of jobs are found by networking. So as well as keeping an eye on the best recruitment websites, get networking and boost your chances of finding that dream job!   4. Upskill It’s a great time to identify gaps in your skillset and upskill – look at jobs being advertised online and see if you can identify any particular skills/qualifications that you are missing that might help with securing that job in the future. In lockdown, many people are finding themselves with much more free time than before – so what better time to look for online courses to close those gaps in your knowledge, learn a new skill set or even a new language. There are countless apps and online courses out there – so find out where you’re lacking and get learning!   5. Open up your search Perhaps one of the more positive things to come out of the pandemic is that people are becoming less tied to one location, as companies are learning that working from home is not only possible, but also beneficial for many people. There are a lot of remote working positions out there now, so don’t just limit yourself to searching for a position in your direct locality. Open up your search and keep an eye on jobs advertised in different locations but can be worked from home.   6. Step out of your comfort zone To stand out from the crowd, you may have to be creative. With Covid-19, there has been a shift towards video interviewing but Sigmar is also seeing an increase in video applications. Get yourself in front of a camera and talk through your CV and reasons for applying for a particular position (remember, like in your CV, to tailor your answers depending on the job!). You can send this video along with your CV, or directly to a hiring manager through LinkedIn. When it comes to interviews – most are taking place virtually. Therefore it is important to ensure you are prepared – make sure you have been sent the link in advance! It is also important to check that you have a good internet connection, that your camera is working and positioned appropriately, your background is professional, you are dressed appropriately. Look directly at the camera to make eye contact, and let them know that you’re the ideal candidate. If you do all of this, you give yourself every chance of landing a new job, even in the most unusual of times.