Love it? Hate it? We’re pondering about some things we’ve learned from online working, and giving you three top tips for re-entering the world (of work).

This week our manager went to a real-life conference, so we gave her some tips: ‘Don’t forget to wear work trousers rather than PJ bottoms!’ // ‘Don’t forget shutting your eyes isn’t the same as turning your camera off!’

We really are a caring bunch with our handy tips! But it did get me thinking… have you been pulling silly faces under your mask? Have you been experimenting with some incredible multi-tasking whilst you’ve had your camera off in a meeting? … have you loved this time at home, or are you raring to get back into the office? …  and therefore what will the return to the ‘real world’ be like for you?

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t a fan of working from home at first. I didn’t have a specific work space, and I couldn’t shake out how the influx of new technology worked. I was confused with work and home being in the same space, and ended up working too many odd extra hours as a result – I felt guilty for clocking off when no one had been able to see I was there. I didn’t feel I’d ever be able to connect with people as well via video call as in real life.

Now, I am a total convert. Well, almost total.

I’ve grown to embrace the flexibility of working from home, but also to rebuild my boundaries for this space. But what I’ve also learned, is that it’s even more tempting to multi-task. To write an email whilst in a meeting… to draft a blog whilst listening to a webinar… it’s far too tempting for this efficiency-geek. One of the things I’ve been actively concentrating on is single-tasking. Really giving the person before me the time and space and focus they deserve.

I know that as we enter the post-Covid world (is it post-Covid? What does that even mean?)… as we re-integrate into society, if there were three things I could remind myself, or you, they would be these:

  1. Everyone is different. It sounds obvious, but it’s worth remembering quite deliberately. Some are introverts or extroverts. Some have been hugely traumatised by the pandemic, have been bereaved or burdened, and some have found great comfort in it. Some cannot wait for big hugs, and some cannot bear them quite yet. So, as community comes together again in your workplace, try and be community to those around you; who’s struggling? Look out for others, and for yourself. It’s ok to ask someone how you can best support them, and it’s ok to share with others how they can best support you. People may have changed. I know my body shape has changed, for others it’s their outlook or their confidence. Let’s be kind to one another.
  2. Like the vaccine, it might hurt a bit. After a long cold dark winter on the sofa, there might be an initial sting. It might be that small talk and conversations face to face are a bit more effort and don’t come as naturally, or it may be that the physical increase in exercise is exhausting. Build up slowly if you can, and don’t worry if you need to take a 5 minute quiet time to re-energise. Like (I assume) marathon runners train, the more you do it, the better at it you’ll get. But, as per my earlier point – single-task. You’ll thank me later. Overload is real, and if you slow yourself down, and do one thing at a time, especially at work, it’ll help. I’m practicing by being fully in meetings and webinars. Just sitting and watching. It becomes such a challenge – no phone checking… I dare you. Today. Do just one thing for 20 minutes. Garden without also listening to a podcast. Read a book without checking your phone… do anything without checking your phone! Allow your mind to wander, to wonder… and watch your creativity sky rocket.
  3. Celebrate every little victory. All of them. Every single one. The firsts as you are able to do things again; each step forward you take towards or within your career. Celebrate plans and celebrate opportunities. Pre-pandemic I thought you could only celebrate the big obvious things that others would want to celebrate with you. But you don’t. Have a personal little dance each time you get closer to where you want to be. Be thankful for where you are. Know that you’re moving, changing and growing, and celebrate in the you-ness of you.

So, everyone is different, remember it might sting at first, but celebrate every little victory. We, as your careers team, can’t wait to support you as you venture towards your future. Help us help you – email us with your questions or concerns, book on to a 1:1 appointment or come along to a workshop in the new academic year. We can’t wait to meet you and to see you succeed!