The jobhunting period can at times feel quite negative, and many people will be put off contract work as they know they have a date where they will be out of employment after the role expires. Also, jumping between different industries in quick succession can prove a challenge for the Wallflowers in this blogs audience. However, Contract work does have benefits that should not be overlooked both to the short and long-term trajectory of your career. Here are a number of reasons why you should accept contract as well as some added benefits you may not have considered.Make ConnectionsThe nature of contract work dictates that unless you’re offered a permanent position, you will be moving between places of work every 6 - 12 months. The benefit of this, is that you are likely to become acquainted with many business leaders, executives, CEOs, and industry experts along the way. This will prove invaluable as building your contact list of reputable business leaders will provide new connections, long lasting business relationships and an impressive list of references for your next employer to contact. In a world where a person’s experience in the field can be the deciding factor in being chosen for interview, having connections to add to your credibility will only ever benefit your applicationFind your job passionIt is not uncommon for young professionals to work a variety of roles before settling into a more permanent fulfilling role. This method can provide a multitude of valuable experience, references, and insights into the nature of the industry. Contract work is a good way to dip your toe into the pool of the industry and find out if you are best aligned with the culture and work involved in the industry.SalaryContracted roles will get you better pay. They offer a higher basic salary in lieu of a benefits package. You can make your experience really work to your advantage. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you meet their requirements, if you solve their problem or need quickly. Employers tend to really value experience, since they want to bring onboard someone who can jump right in and hit the ground running.Faster EmploymentNow this of course does not cover all contract work, and you shouldn’t apply for a contract position assuming you’re going to be accepted by 9:30 and start work at 10:00. However, the creation of a contract role may have resulted in a sudden urgency and vacation that needs to be filled, so the onboarding of contracts does move faster than permanent roles.More FreedomAs you are not bound by the standard contracts of the business, you have more negotiating room when discussing hours, pay and location. You may have been brought into the contract role to assist with a sudden influx of work, therefore If you can assure your employer you will complete the work, you can choose working hours that fit for you, which can provide more time out of work for looking at more roles, building your professional profile and networking.In ConclusionThere are many business professionals who have built there who career around contract work and it’s not too hard to see why. Contract work offers more flexibility, better pay, more variation, and greater chance of networking and building a profile within the industry. Understanding the process and careful planning can ensure you are never out of work for lengthy periods of time, and with the flexibility contract work offers, you can use any free time to plan ahead once your contract expires. If you are keen to build your professional CV, build strong industry connections, gain experience and entertain a higher pay, contract work is definitely worth your time
There seems to be an underserved stigma attached to contract work. However, Contract work does have benefits that should not be overlooked both to the short and long-term trajectory of your career. Here are a number of reasons why you should accept contractMake ConnectionsThe nature of contract work dictates that unless you’re offered a permanent position, you will be moving between places of work every 6 - 12 months. The benefit of this, is that you are likely to become acquainted with many business leaders, executives, CEOs, and industry experts along the way. This will prove invaluable as building your contact list of reputable business leaders will provide new connections, long lasting business relationships and an impressive list of references for your next employer to contact. In a world where a person’s experience in the field can be the deciding factor in being chosen for interview, having connections to add to your credibility. Find your job passionIt is not uncommon for young professionals to work a variety of roles before settling into a more permanent fulfilling role. This method can provide a multitude of valuable experience, references, and insights into the nature of the industry. Contract work is a good way to dip your toe into the pool of the industry and find out if you are best aligned with the culture and work involved in the industry.SalaryContracted roles will get you better pay. They offer a higher basic salary in lieu of a benefits package. You can make your experience really work to your advantage. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you meet their requirements, if you solve their problem or need quickly. Employers tend to really value experience, since they want to bring onboard someone who can jump right in and hit the ground running.Faster EmploymentNow this of course does not cover all contract work, and you shouldn’t apply for a contract position assuming you’re going to be accepted by 9:30 and start work at 10:00. However, the creation of a contract role may have resulted in a sudden urgency and vacation that needs to be filled, so the onboarding of contracts does move faster than permanent roles.Foot in the doorIt is not unreasonable to think that a company will offer you a permanent position once you’re contracted obligations are over. The contract job may have been to fill a job left open by maternity leave, or a sudden influx of work has left a team treading water, and once your work is complete you may leave the company with a strong reference and 6 months of experience and knowledge. However, if you are able to not only perform above and beyond in your role whilst also suggesting and introducing new methods of practice and ideas of work that increases business, your employer may want to keep you around for longer. By proving yourself as an asset that possess’ knowledge and positive actions that the company do not practice, you will make yourself indispensable.In ConclusionThe opportunity for contract work should not pass by unnoticed. The lack of watertight job security may be off-putting, however contract work is certainly not without its benefits. Higher pay, building connections and a set time to see if you align yourself with the culture of the industry, contract work is a great way to build upon your professional career, and ultimately make you a more credible and accomplished candidate when you approach vacancies down the path of your professional life.
It’s difficult to comprehend what our lives in 2022 would be like without the various platforms and interconnectable mediums we use every day. The Nokia 3210 has been replaced by the iPhone. TV Cable has made way to streaming platforms, and much of our music is consumed via Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. However, the most poignant example of the increasingly connected age we live in, is that of Social Media. In the race to dominate the social platform, businesses are constantly updated their sites and apps with new ways to digest content, integrating features such as videos, shops, posts, blogs and stories. Though the intention of drawing in a diverse clientele is understandable, it results in a saturation of the market, thus making it difficult to ascertain the USP of a certain platform. Snapchat’s quick photo/story update features can now be found on Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger command our 4G instant messaging services, and Facebook, well, Facebook does everything. However, there is one of few platforms that’s focus has managed to remain consistent since its creation, and that platform is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world's largest online professional network. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career. In essence, LinkedIn is the main social media hub for employers and businesses. For some, checking LinkedIn every day is like checking the newspaper, except unlike other social media platforms LinkedIn is optimised, professional, well presented, practical, focused and ultimately good. Now I have not been monetarily compensated by LinkedIn to write anything on the behalf, however I do believe that the importance of LinkedIn cannot be stressd enough, especially if you are looking to progress into the upper echalons of the corperate world. To those who have yet to utilise this platform, or simply want an overview of what it is and how it works, read on Who Should Use LinkedIn? Given that the main focus of the site is to connect businesses, establish relationships and help companies advertise jobs, your average LinkedIn user will fall into the category of ‘business professional.’ It is a platform for people looking to advance their career’s, including people from various professional backgrounds, small business owners, students, and job seekers. LinkedIn members can use the platform to tap into a network of professionals, companies, and groups within and beyond their industry. Though LinkedIn’s homepage features a feed where users can post updates and developments in their personal lives as well as photos and videos, the content still centres around the professional working life, so you may have to look elsewhere to get your cute animal fix. Why You Should Join LinkedIn LinkedIn is the key that will open the door to the interconnected landscape of business. Your profile will display your various accolades, previous work experiences, qualifications and personal bio, along with any personal hobbies and interested you wish to share. Now you might be thinking this sounds a lot like the criteria one would find on a CV, and that is not an unfair comparison to make. Many jobseekers use LinkedIn as their primary tool of self-marketing to send to companies who have advertised jobs, and employers can use it to search for candidates and present them with opportunities to work. Thus, a fleshed out, optimised and slick LinkedIn profile can prove to be an invaluable tool as you progress through your professional life. Where Do I Start Like many social medias, the best way to learn more about the features of the site is to simply jump in with a freshly created profile and click your way around the sites menu’s. However, we have a few suggestions to get you started: 1. Create a Profile Though this may seem obvious, LinkedIn does allow you to explore most of what the site has to offer without the need of creating a profile. However, having your own profile with allow the algorithm to tailor your experience on the site to your own personal preferences. Jobs advertised will become more closely linked to your current profession, and industry related content will appear more frequently on your feed. Naturally of course If you already have a reason in mind for signing up to LinkedIn, then one assumes your profile is ready to go Do take time when creating your profile. As previously mentioned, LinkedIn can function as an online CV, so take this into account when uploading a profile photo and writing your bio. Include all relevant experiences and skills you have within your profession in indoor to add further employability to your page 2. Build your connections The network you create will play a crucial part in unlocking the power of LinkedIn as it will help you understand what is happening in your industry and professional circle. You can begin by adding your family, friends, past or current classmates, and co-workers to your network. You can also follow people, companies, or topics by navigating directly to the Follow fresh perspectives page, which displays recommended sources to follow. 3. Browse the Catalogue of Jobs The job search is one of the standout features of LinkedIn. You can use the job search to research companies in preparation for an interview, reach out to hiring communities or simply see what current roles are being advertised for. LinkedIn is one of the top platforms when it comes to advertising vacancies, so there’s a high chance a specific role or a role in a less well known or advertised industry will appear in your searches. You can also save jobs searches or notify your connections and recruiters that you’re open to job opportunities. 4. Engage in Conversation Though LinkedIn as a platform caters more to a tool for business than traditional social media, you can still connect and talk to people as you would on any other platform. Feel free to engage in updates and posts from the companies or individuals you follow. This can even work as a catalyst to establish further connections with new likeminded individuals. 5. Post Content And finally, post stuff! Don’t be afraid of uploading content onto your page. Keep your connections updated with any recent developments in your professional career, reach out to industry experts for advice, stimulate debate and even alert people to vacancies in your place of work. In Conclusion LinkedIn is an invaluable tool used by many as a catalyst to progress further in their working life. The benefits of LinkedIn should never be understated, and once you’ve begun to explore the site and engage with content, you’ll wonder how you ever navigated the job market without it
Let’s first dispel any preconceptions you may have had before clicking on this post. This post will not be outlining the benefits of keeping a diary of sorts to document your thoughts and feelings. Of course, if you already do that, then more power to you, but in this blog we will be focusing on why using a journal is the most effective medium in keeping track of any upcoming events and increasing productivity. But I Have Notes on My Phone… Smartphones manufacturers are continuously updating and innovating their products with the intention of streamlining our day to day lives. However, they can also provide distractions and reduce productivity. It can be all too tempting to tap on the YouTube App next to your Notes or Calendar. Having an actual notebook to write in reduces the temptation to get side-tracked and allows you to be present and focused as you document information. Smartphones also allow mistakes to be erased or things to be rewritten, which of course has its benefits, however, writing with pen and paper encourages a certain commitment to the process and taking time to document information in this manner allows information to be subconsciously registered. So what are some benefits of journaling? Organisation Traditionally, people would associate a journal as a daily record of news and events amongst other things of a personal nature. In essence, it’s a diary. However, rather than use journaling as a way to document the past, instead, use it to plan for the future. For instance, when applying for jobs, you may need to remember important dates such as interview's, online calls or tasks to complete. And whilst in employment, use it to remember deadlines, meetings, commitments and work based social events. Business and work-related alerts can become lost in the void of the other notifications on your devices, so having all important information contained in an accessible, easy to use portable format is guaranteed to avoid such occurrences. Productivity There can be slow times during a period of work and the temptation to scroll through social media or watch videos online can be all but too enticing. This is where a Productivity Journal can help. By tracking habits or division of time spent on tasks throughout the day, your working hours will ultimately be more focused with less wasted time. Time Management and Reaching Goals Journaling provides a way of breaking down a seemingly herculean task into obtainable goal by distributing time across a number of dates. Having all your important tasks and commitments scribbled down will allow you to quickly identify spaces in your schedule and allow you to dedicate time accordingly. Without question, planning your time effectively will increase productivity and decrease stress. Reflection Of course, it is worth mentioning that though you may journal as a means of planning ahead, it can be nice to look back through the previous weeks and months you have documented and reflect on previous projects. It can help instil a sense of pride to look back at your past accomplishments and completed tasks, which will motivate you to continue to work hard and not feel daunted when presented with a lengthy task. Viewing previously completed tasks retrospectively can provide good hindsight in preparation for similar projects in the future. Stress Relief A simple but important point of note, Journaling in this method can also be quite meditative, and is a sure way to keep the stress levels down. As previously mentioned, removing the ability to delete mistakes requires you to focus more on what you’re writing. This means you are present in the moment and focused on one specific task. The world of work can present many matters that require your attention and in a busy week of work full of deadlines, meetings and commitments, it can be nice to take 5 minutes away and just focus your efforts on one task. Doodles and Drawings In a similar fashion to the traditional diary, your journal isn’t just for handwriting, its your own personal document that you can shape and customise however you like. Studies have shown that drawing or doodling in your journal enhances your memory and can also provide further stress relief. A lot of people have strong visual remembrance and are more likely to recall information from an image than a written document. Aside from these benefits, personalising your journal is ultimately enjoyable and will encourage you to use it more often! In Conclusion Its difficult to list exactly how journaling can affect your professional life, as everybody uses a journal for different things. Some to plan ahead of time, some to document, and some as a way to take a few minutes out of there busy schedule to just focus on one task. Chances are as you read this blog post (thank you for reading to the end by the way) you already had some idea of what you would use a journal for, or maybe you’ve observed a close friend or colleague viciously scribble away in a notebook whenever they have a few seconds away from a call. We’ve mentioned a few practical uses of journaling, however, the best way to get started is just to get stuck in and see what works for you. Buy yourself a notebook and pen and get writing, it’ll help, trust me!
The first few weeks of work can be very intimidating. You have been placed in an unfamiliar environment full of people you don’t know who all seem to get along like a house on fire. You’re being presented with many new ideas, practices, and methods of work, complemented with a self-inflicted sense of pressure to not disappoint the people who have placed their faith in you. Your natural inclination may be to simply lay low and not draw too much attention to yourself. However, this may make things even worse! Below are a few points worth noting as you begin the next stage of your career and will hopefully make the first few weeks of your new job less stressful. Remember, we’ve all been in your shoes before! The Company Believes In You The interview process is not just a chance for an employer to see whether you are best suited for the role, but also whether you are a good fit for the company and its culture. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that an employer will have offered you a job if they didn’t think you would be able to ingratiate yourself with your new colleagues. Business is built upon strong foundations and values; therefore, an employer will build a team around individuals who resonate with the values of the company and put them into practice during their work. So, if you have been offered a role within the business, your employer believes that you and their team share common values, attitudes to work, and encourage the interests of others. So, with that in mind, your new work colleagues may not seem as mysterious or as enigmatic as you first thought! Everyone Was Once the New Guy Everybody has been in your place before. It’s that simple! In the world of employment, navigating through a new work environment is a shared experience that everyone has had at some point in their lives, which is good news for you! Your new team will know exactly what you’re going through and understand that your first few days may leave you feeling quite overwhelmed. You may find that you receive messages of welcome and encouragement from the workspace as your name is passed around. Make sure to acknowledge these and respond by saying that you look forward to getting to know them better! Your transition into your new role will be made so much easier if you accept the support of your colleagues. Just Say Hello! You may be a socialite. You may be a wallflower. Regardless of the level of enjoyment you gain when interacting with others, sooner or later, you are going to come into contact with the people you work with. So when faced with a new colleague, just say hello! You’ll no doubt be seeing a lot of each other in the coming weeks, and it's much easier to work alongside people you know you can have a chat with, and vice versa. Once your new team knows you are approachable and communicative, they’re likely to stop by and say hello or offer a conversation that may take the stress off the workday. We’re all human after all, so find out who you’ll be working alongside and make contact! Take Advantage of Team Socials Similar to the previous point, the best way to ingratiate yourself with your fellow work colleagues is to take part in any activities, events or social gatherings your team will organise. This could be as simple as breaking bread together during the lunch hour or joining members of the team for gatherings outside of work. For instance, you may find that an impromptu Friday night cocktail hour helps to ease social stress. In addition, it also removes the notion that the only thing you share in common with your colleagues is work. Establishments will often organise team-building events or days out for employees to enjoy, or company-exclusive classes and workshops. Take advantage of these opportunities, as the more you spend time with your team outside of the work environment, the more you’ll get to know them and vice versa. Work is always easier when you’re surrounded by friends! Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help I have no doubt that at least one member of your new job will have mentioned this to you, but it is worth reiterating. You need to dispel the idea that your new employers are expecting you to fully acclimate yourself to the companies’ practices and methods on the first day, then start raising turnover by 70% on the second. You have the collective knowledge and experiences of the members of your team at your disposal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or check your work with them for any errors. Employers would rather you ask questions and get things correct than let mistakes slip through. You Will Make Mistakes, And It’s Only Natural Continuing on from the previous point, sooner or later, you may find yourself making an error with a particular task or piece of work assigned to you. The important thing to remember is that your employer will be prepared for this. Now, this isn’t a personal attack on your ability to perform within the role, but more so acknowledging that when dealing with the information overload that comes with learning a new business, mistakes may slip through. Now, of course, we’re not suggesting that continuous errors will go unnoticed, however, your team will be far more understanding if, after you are shown the correct method of practice, you actively take it upon yourself to avoid the mistake in the future. Ultimately, just don’t be too hard on yourself, these things happen! In Conclusion If ever things get too overwhelming, take a moment to remember; you managed to capture the attention of your new employers with a standout CV, bested your competition by providing a great interview to the employers, and now here you stand, ready to begin your new role. You should be immensely proud of yourself and what you were able to achieve! The first week of work can be quite draining, but the number one thing to remember is that the same colleagues you see chatting and laughing amongst themselves and going off to lunch together were once in the very same position as you are in. It will take time to acclimate yourself to your new surroundings, but know you are surrounded by a plethora of support every day.
Let’s be honest here, the first week of job hunting can feel pretty demoralising, spending hours, days or weeks applying for jobs whilst receiving little to no response from employers. I myself, have been personally guilty of the somewhat selfish mindset when faced with a lack of an immediate response during my days applying for positions, in a similar narrative to ‘Yes, I know you’re a massive company and you’re very busy, but please respond to me!’ The fact of the matter is that employers receive hundreds of new applications every day and must give time to all potential candidates who have shown an interest in the company. Of course, the way to stand out in this particular crowd is to make your CV as eye catching, optimised and applicable to the role as possible, but that’s a blog post for another time. So how do you stay motivated during the job search? You’re Not Alone, We’ve All Been There Everybody has to start with one foot on the ladder before they can start to climb and all successful men and women in business would have started exactly where you are. The payoff with spending time applying for jobs is landing yourself a position where you can flourish, feel motivated and ultimately progress to your career goal. Though things may seem bleak or monotonous right now, have faith in your own self worth and abilities, and trust that the right employer will recognise your skills and potential. The Hard Part is Over Of course, many would consider the most challenging part of the job application process to be the interview, but we aren’t worried about that step just yet! The most important thing to remember is that at this point, your professional materials are in the best shape they can be. You’ve spent time making sure your LinkedIn is professional, your CV is in the best state, and your cover letter is engaging and conveys all your passion you have for the role in question. Perfecting these will have taken time, with a lot of trial, error, re-writing and designing. So with these fully optimised tools at your disposal, you can apply to jobs with confidence that your personal marketing material is bound to turn heads and catch eyes. Set Your Goals By FAR, the best way to avoid getting demotivated or bogged down with repeated job applications and searching is to set yourself a control or goal to make sure you’re not spending every hour of every day at your computer. Namely, a set time or set number that you can work towards. This could be a set number of hours you spend searching for and applying for jobs, or perhaps a set number of applications you can complete each day. By spreading out your time, you’re taking steps towards your future career without compromising on your downtime, which will result in you feeling less demotivated and worn out. For example, you may choose to complete 7 applications a day. That adds up to nearly 50 applications in a week, which will drastically increase your chances of a response! Switch Up Your Location Spending every hour of every day in the same space can lead to cabin fever setting in pretty quickly. So, break out of the routine and find yourself a new setting to complete your applications. Spend some time outdoors if the weather is conducive. Take your laptop into a coffee shop and work from there. You’ll find the benefits of being around others very motivating and being surrounded by life and conversation will stop you feeling lethargic. Don’t have a laptop? Download jobs apps like LinkedIn or Indeed to your smartphone! You can apply to jobs through these apps via an uploaded CV attached to your profile, or even save jobs applications to complete the next time you’re sat at a computer. Surround Yourself With A Supporting Network Never underestimate the value of surrounding yourself with like-minded, motivated people. The positive energy of strong supporting friends or family that want you to succeed will be essential in helping you take the first steps. These people will remind you of your own merits and bring the best out of you, which will stop any feelings of negativity or demotivation creeping in. Listen To Motivational Materials We all like to fill time in our day with audible media, be it during a walk, or a commute, or even just as passive listening in our homes to fill the room with a sound. So why not switch out your playlist for some motivational content. There are many different forms of communicating information than just reading books about business, so do some research, find people in your industry you identify with, and engage in their content, be it podcasts, lectures, talks or even just their Twitter feed. You’ll be surprised how one TED Talk can strike a chord with you and give you a new burst of motivation and energy. And Most Importantly, Be Your Own Biggest Supporter Everyone has the capacity to be WAY too hard on themselves sometimes. When things don’t go to plan, or life throws us a curveball, we often give ourselves a rough time. Recognise your own self-worth, and constantly remind yourself that each day is another step in the right direction to achieving your goals. Visualise where you want to be and remember your value doesn’t decrease just because someone hasn’t noticed it yet. Keep on going until the right person recognises your potential and soon enough, you’ll look back at this process and see that the hours spent job hunting all paid off in the end.
Visit our Working from Home Hub to check out content we have put together to support remote workers and Managers now working from home - blogs, video content, training modules, podcasts and other resources. The hub has lots of great info and supports for: Working form home, Managing staff remotely, Wellness at Home Talent Summit Series on working in this new normal Access to free online courses to upskill Netflix recommendations Check it out at https://www.workingfromhomehub.com
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.
Here are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails at all hours of the day, always thinking about what needs to be done. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café… even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the rest of the day, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or seem as if you conjured it up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding mental health, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a Healthy Routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job can be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks taking a toll on your mental health. Your job is also more than likely sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. It can be hard to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – the injection of endorphins from exercising can only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. The same can be said for your diet, avoid that pastry to go with your coffee and instead be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to improve your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy happiness and eliminate the possibility of coming down with the January blues. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently ruin constructive discussions on preventative measures.