In a matter of days working from home became the new normal throughout the world, especially for those in office environments.
With the Coronavirus now in Manchester and across the UK, everyone has been advised to work from home to avoid large groups and commutes; unless it is necessary. At first the sound of working away from the office sounds nice, knowing that you don’t have to get up at 6am, worry about traffic, missing the bus or have those dreaded morning meetings; there are some perks. Yet home is where you have the most distractions to stop you from working, as home is where you relax. Whether you do this be reading books, playing video games or binge watch Netflix till you realise it’s 2 am.
No matter if you are the manager or an apprentice, if you’re not accustomed to working from home, it can be difficult to find that work / life balance; and finding ways to keep the two apart can be tricky. At 360 Apprenticeships we have compiled a list of hints and tips for both employers and apprentices, which will help to keep your work life grounded while at home.
Tips for Employers
Hold morning conference calls
Getting in touch with everyone individually can be tricky when everyone is at home; and when you have a large team it’s even harder. So whether you are the directing manager or a team leader, using online meeting platforms can help in speaking to everyone. Some of the most well-known platforms that are perfect for both large and small businesses include:
Morning conference calls are great to see how the team are doing, from what progress the have made to what tasks they have set for the day. Microsoft Teams lets you share files and documents over the meeting platform making it even easier to work away from the office.
Set up a mobile chat group
Not everyone is going to be at their desktop or laptop every second of the day, so if you need to get in contact, apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are great solutions. WhatsApp is great for those with small businesses or those managing teams, as you can either contact everyone at once or individually. Yet if you are also looking to find ways to keep in touch with customers, WhatsApp have recently created a new app that is built with the small business owner in mind. Here you can create a profile with the companies name, address and website, create instant replies and track messages and an easy to use messaging tool to contact customers as soon as possible.
Check on how your team are doing personally
Obviously checking that all of your employees are working is important, but also checking on how they are doing personally as well is just as vital. When you’re in the office having a coffee break or lunch, this is the time where you take about life outside of work, and this shouldn’t change when working from home. Even if it is just for 5 minutes this can help your employees feel more comfortable and less stressed.
Mention accomplishments and give feedback!
When your team are working away from the office for the first time, it can be tricky for both you and your team to know if they are going about it the right way. Many start to be distracted and lose focus. If you start to notice that there is some lagging in their performance, give feedback and tips on how you feel they could improve. But ensure that you don’t start micromanaging their every day, as this can put them off even more. Then once you start to see some improvements give them praise and mention their personal performance. Giving praise when possible helps to build morale and confidence within them, thus giving them a reason to work harder and making your team more successful.
Focus on goals more than activity
Ensuring that your team are actively working is obviously very important. But if you don’t set any targets or reasons for them to work just as hard at home and focus more on activity, this could stop them from having a reason to put in the effort. By setting goals and targets, it will get them working harder without them even realise it. Having set goals helps to improve focus, reduce procrastination and even help you to measure the progress of the team.
Tips for Apprentices
Have a morning routine
Getting out of bed can be tricky when you need to get up for work, yet it can be harder when you are working from home. Without the need to worry about looking presentable, missing the bus or being stuck in traffic you end up giving yourself extra time in bed. But this can be dangerous and start the habit of over sleeping and become less motivated. So what can you do start your day off right?
Set your alarm – Treat each weekday as you would usually, by setting an alarm and give yourself plenty of to wake up. It doesn’t need to a 6am start (unless your day starts earlier), but give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the day ahead.
Get ready for the day – You may be working from the comfort of your home, but if you stay in your pyjamas or comfy clothes, this can stop you from being motivated or willing to work; so getting out that mentality is important. Just by changing into day clothes like jeans and t-shirt can give you the enthusiasm you need to start your day.
Get in some exercise – If you’re someone who is on the more active side, you can always start your day with some activity. Whether this is by walking your dog, going for a jog or doing yoga in your living room, this can help wake you up and feel energised for the day ahead.
Have a designated work space
No matter what type of apprenticeship you are doing, everyone has a designated work space. So if you need to work from home, you should have your own space specifically for work. If you have an office space at home that’s great! But when you need to improvise there are some tips that can help you in finding the right environment:
Stay away from the bed and sofa – These areas are killers for not getting work done. Your bedroom and living room/sofa are where you go to relax and forget about the day, and if you are also working in those areas you lose that down time space. Plus there can be many distractions such as the TV, games consoles and much more.
Keep your work space tidy – Wherever you decide to work; whether this is at the dinner table, office or bedroom desk, having a clean and tidy area helps in keeping your mind free. You also feel as if your area if work friendly and less claustrophobic and can help make everything you need for the day easier to find. For any apprenticeship work you can keep it in a binder or folder on your desktop, and always have them easily accessible.
Get rid of any distractions – You many have a work space that is away from the living room or bedroom, but there can still be a number of distractions. This can range from technology to house hold objects, so anything that doesn’t relate to your work , ensure that it is out of the way.
Keep your day structured and have a schedule
Every job has a structure and schedule for the day no matter where you work. And it should be the same when working from home. Always start at the same time as you would while in work depending on your daily hours; so if you start at 9am and finish at 5pm, do the same amount of hours at home. If you are currently completing an apprenticeship, ensure that you don’t get behind on your coursework. Free up an hour a day or choose one day of the week to stay on top of your work. A great way to know what you are going to do on a daily/weekly basis is to create a plan. You can do this by using an online calendar or writing you tasks in a diary, and keep them somewhere easy to find and revert back to.
Take a break
Lunchtime is the break that everyone looks forward to when they’re at work, as this is when you can get out of the office and away from the stress. This should be the same when you’re working from home too. Take an hours break to give you time for not just eating, but to get out of the house whether this is by going for a walk or even out in the garden (if you have one). But even stepping away from technology like you mobile phone or social media can be great release too.
Keep your social media presence to a minimum
Social media is a killer when it comes to work and a massive distraction to anyone that gets caught up in it. What starts out as ‘let’s see what’s happening for a few minutes’ ends up being an hour of watching funny videos and sharing memes on Facebook. Great ways to stop you from doing this can include signing out of your accounts on your computer, moving your phone into another room or deleting your apps (if you need to use it for work). These may sound a little drastic, but can help you to concentrate even more.
Have a clear finish time
Any day that you work at home you should have a clear finish time. Just like you would do working in the office, you want to get all your work done and heading home right on time. Obviously you don’t need to worry about traffic and getting home, but by having a clear time to finish your work ensures that everything is done.
Be ready for the next day
You’ve now finished your work and want to forget about the day. But before you put everything away and switch off, get all your work prepared for the next day – this can be from writing down you tasks for the day, updating your calendar and even tidying up your work area. This can give you peace of mind knowing that all is ready for the next day.
No matter if you are the owner, manager, team leader or apprentice of the business; these tips can be used by anyone and implemented into work life at home. If you have found any of these tips to be successful, we would love to hear from you! Comment below or send us an email at [email protected]. You can also find us on social media:
Facebook: 360 Apprenticeships