Starting a new job can be stressful at the best of times, so having to navigate (and maybe even complete) a student placement year from home, rather than in an office, adds a whole other level of complexity. For those that have been fortunate to keep their placements amidst the current chaos, here are a few tips to make your lockdown placement go as smoothly as possible.
Find ways to switch between work and play
Our homes are places that we can relax and chill out after a long day. Because of this, they’re full of distractions and not great places to be when we need to focus. That’s why we go to the library to study or the gym when we want to exercise. These designated areas put us in a physical and mental place to do what needs to be done. It’s the same with offices. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this, that’s currently not an option.
As a result, it’s important to find things that help you mentally switch on and off. The obvious one is to keep your phone in a different room. Whilst you could put it on silent, leaving it in a different room completely minimizes the chances of you being distracted and gives you something to look forward to on your break.
Another simple way to switch on for the day is to dress as you would in the office. Even though you won’t be on meetings all day, sitting around in trackies or pajamas can keep you a bit too relaxed. You’ll find that the more professional you dress, the more mentally switched on for work you’ll be. And don’t worry, this doesn’t mean a shirt and tie every day, a smart casual look will usually be enough to put you in the right mindset.
Aaron, PR placement at TopCashback says:
“I like to transform my room. On weekdays I have the blinds up (sunlight is important!) and move my games console, soundbar and TV into another room. Once the weekend hits, the blinds come down, colored lights come on, and everything else gets moved back in – full on man-cave.”
Check what’s available to help you work effectively
It’s in your employer’s best interests to make sure that your working environment isn’t stopping you from fulfilling your role in any way. That’s why, even though different companies will have different policies, it’s always worth checking what resources are available to you.
Things like a second monitor, laptop stand and wrist-rests can really improve your level of productivity and comfort. So be sure to ask around and find out if those are something your employer can help out with.
Your company may also have development and training, which would look great on your CV. Make time to raise this up with your line manager so they can bring you up to speed on everything that is available to you.
Communication is key
One of the main reasons that doing a placement from home is harder than doing one in office is the lack of contact. Between e-mails, instant messages and webcam calls, small details can tend to get left out and forgotten. There’s also the added drawback of not being able to quickly reach over the desk and ask one of your coworkers a quick question.
Because of this, you have to be a pro-active communicator. This means asking plenty of questions, making sure you know your responsibilities and getting feedback on your work when possible. At times you may feel as though your being too naggy, but more often than not your coworkers will be happy to help. Some of them may have even been placements themselves and understand the difficulty of starting a role in a completely new environment. Plus, at the very least, it shows that you care about improving and that is something people will take note of.
Leave the house when you can (as long as it’s safe)
As touched on before, working from home means that our environment to relax in, and our environment to work in, have become one. This means that even when you are switched off and trying to chill out, work is literally seconds away.
Simple things like walking to the shops on your break or eating lunch in another room will physically distance you from your work environment and give you extra space to breathe. If you’re lucky enough to live near a park, they’re great for chilling out on your break or even getting some light work done when you want to switch things up. Plus, nature has been proven to boost our happiness levels so it’s a win-win situation.
Just remember the reason that you’re working from home in the first place is still out there. So be sure to remain socially distant and wear a mask where required.
Find the silver linings – there’s plenty of them!
At the end of the day we’re in a unique position that no one expected and whilst there are some drawbacks, it really isn’t all doom and gloom. One common silver lining is saving. Whether it be the time we save on not commuting to work, or the extra cash we keep by not paying for expensive city lunches, working from home allows us to do things we couldn’t if we were in the office.
Izzy, a placement in the TopCashback partnerships team says:
“I feel like I can do more of the things I enjoy before and after work. For example, me and my friend have gone for swims before I start which brings a nice balance to working from home all day”
PR placement Tilly has found that:
“Saving money is definitely the biggest perk of working from home! Once you add up the costs of commutes, coffee runs, lunches and after-work drinks here and there, it’s not surprising how much you can save just by working from home. It’s also great to be able to save enough to pay off my overdraft which I wanted to get out of, and by my first pay cheque I had.”
This post was written by Alhagi Malang from the leading cashback site Topcashback. You can sign up today to start earning money back on your online purchases.