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Even though Ireland is in the midst of a lockdown, it doesn’t mean individuals are setting aside personal or career goals, according to a survey submitted to over 25,000 users of leading Irish database Nightcourses.com; the survey has revealed a large increase in interest in online courses and training as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

73% of those surveyed say they are more likely to consider online courses and distance learning, with a further 18% indicating that they may consider such options – an increase of 36% to those who’ve availed of remote training options in the past.

Maintaining a Work / Life Balance

Across the country, people are changing the way they work, parent and interact socially, and the Internet has had a major role to play in that transition. Most people that were questioned for the study – a whopping 51%, in fact – agreed that online or distance learning programmes can offer the same quality content as on-campus programmes.

One busy worker added: “It’s more beneficial to me as I work for HSE and can’t find much of my personal time to myself. Online courses allow me to switch in and out with easy access, no travel and high-quality learning.”

However, there is some way to go before all facets of training move online, as 50% of respondents felt that online / distance learning programmes aren’t practical in their chosen field. As one learner commented: “The course I want to take is dressmaking, which is very hands on. You need to be there for fittings.”

Plus, with schools closed, many people are struggling to balance working at home and managing a family. One parent observed how their lives have changed drastically: “My kids are at home 24/7 and it’s hard trying to fit time in for myself.”

Many People Facing Fears and Obstacles

With the COVID-19 crisis continuing and no end in sight, the issue of concentration and lack of personal motivation came up a number of times among respondents.

One concerned individual commented: “People might find it hard to concentrate if they are worried about COVID-19,” while another added: “The anxiety of this pandemic has caused a definite drop in motivation to actually work. I know I am not the only one feeling this way.”

A few people reported having problems with connectivity, and despite government efforts, some didn’t have access to broadband in their area. Yet, the main obstacle for everyone questioned on the survey was fiscal.

A number of respondents reported having lost their jobs, and many others feared for their future income. “I’m worried about the uncertainty of my employment. It would affect my ability to pay for a postgrad course if I lost my job,” commented one, while another added: “Price is an issue as my husband was let go. We are looking after the pennies but still want to develop further.”

A Call for Online Training & Virtual Events

Course providers, it’s an ideal time to move your training online. In total, 73% of respondents to the survey say they are now more likely to consider online courses and distance learning, while 18% are open to the idea and are ready to be convinced.

Many of these potential students are already familiar with the format of studying remotely, too; of those interested in booking onto courses, 41% have already enrolled on an online or distance learning course, while 30% have also taken a blended course in the past.

In addition, 69% said they’d be interested in attending a virtual (online) courses fair, showcasing colleges and course providers that are providing courses, while 43% said they would consider attending an online open day.

Focusing on Career Goals

People are using this downtime in very different ways. 44% of those questioned were planning to take an professional online course, while 63% said that if a training provider moves their programmes online, they would be encouraged to book onto a course over the next 3 months.

Of those surveyed, 42% have booked courses recently, 59% of people were considering undertaking professional training for their career, 17% were thinking of taking a postgraduate course, 17% wished to improve their soft skills, and 21% wanted to brush up on their technical skills – perhaps mastering the intricacies of Excel. “I would like to focus on upskilling myself and get ready for the market when it opens up,” added one respondent.

New Online Training Portal Launched

This survey was submitted by Careers Unlimited to 25,000 users and followers of Nightcourses.com and Courses.ie ahead of the company’s launch of online portal, OnlineCampus.ie.

This new website is a comprehensive database of online, distance learning and home study options offered by Irish colleges and course providers and lists a range of programmes from hobbyist to postgraduate level.

If you’re looking to find a training option to suit you, click here, or if you would like to find out how to feature your courses on the portal contact info@onlinecampus.ie.

Staying sane, balancing a hefty work schedule and keeping your children occupied is no easy feat. As parents, we all have the best of intentions when it comes to home schooling, but it’s not always easy to adhere to a detailed lesson plan when you have deadlines to submit for, meetings to attend, or a demanding remote working schedule. It can be an enormous struggle to keep your family educated and entertained while holding down a job; here at JobsExpo, we commend your efforts - but at the end of the day, once your kids are safe and well, you’re doing a great job. Here's our Jobs Expo Survival Guide to working from home with kids.

Working From Home With Kids

Plan, Plan, Plan

Discipline is a limited resource. One way to avoid throwing in the towel too early is by prepping what you have to do ahead of time, and sticking to it as best you can. If you have the lunches prepped the day before, and the lesson plan ready to go at the beginning of the week, it makes it that much easier to persevere when all hell breaks loose on a Thursday, and your boss needs all hands-on deck for a client presentation as your child's teacher hands out that lengthy assignment list!

Keep it Creative

This is what Pinterest was designed for. One way to make your time at home more bearable and keep kids - big and small alike - entertained, is to add a bit of fun and creativity into your day. Sure, the onus might be to focus on the relatively dry staples of Maths and English when it comes to home schooling. But get ordering those paints on Amazon, start coming up with fun projects; sewing, painting, crafts - you might even find something you enjoy yourself that helps your blood pressure levels stay low!

Routine is King

Maintaining a routine, getting up, getting dressed and getting ready for the present forms of ‘school’ and ‘work’ all help when it comes to maintaining the structure and balance of each day. Keep your workspaces separate from those chill out zones, and make sure to divide up the home-schooling responsibilities equally between parents to keep things running as smoothly as possible. It’s important to lead by example, no procrastinating - at least visibly - on your own ‘homework’ too.

A Problem Shared….

It’s important to remember that you are not alone in all this - although it can feel like it sometimes. There are so many parents across the globe, struggling with this impossible balancing act at present. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your employer. Let them know what problems you are facing and find a workaround that works for everyone. Is there flexibility to your working day? Could some of your tasks be done in the evening, or at the weekend when your partner has more time to pitch in?

Pooling Resources

When it comes to your kids’ class, there are so many parents in the same boat;why not group together and share some of the home-schooling responsibilities as a unit? Set up ‘remote study groups’. Having those external appointments at set times is a great way to keep to a routine.You might not be in the same room, but you can certainly cover lessons and get through that extensive homework list one Zoom meeting at a time.

Take Time for Yourself

As parents, it’s too easy to keep going 24/7 with the focus on your work and family and not take any time to unwind. Whether it’s playing Xbox with your work friends or sitting out the back with an ice-cold white wine, take the time to enjoy a few moments of calm each day. Make sure you and your partner cover for each other on all those duties; personal time and space is precious and does wonders in restoring the well of patience that so often runs dry after a long day of home schooling.

Give Yourself a Break

Starting out, we all had the best of intentions; how many times did you tell yourself that screen time will be kept to a minimum and you’ll be up doing PE with Joe Wicks every single morning? However, there will be times when that just isn’t feasible - and that’s perfectly ok. Don’t let those other parents with Instagram's full of crafts and freshly baked cupcakes fool you. You won’t be the only one resorting to iPad time / Frozen 2 /Playstation -depending on the age bracket - so you can have enough peace to get through that important work call. And OrganicVeganYogaMom29’s carefully curated social media account shouldn’t guilt you into thinking otherwise.

Enjoy It as Best You Can

As the old proverb goes: this, too, shall pass. Yes, there will be many, many times over the course of this pandemic where you’ll be pushed to the limits of your sanity - and you’re not alone there. That’s why wine was invented. However, there will also be those quality, fun, rewarding moments - so don’t forget to take the time and savour those too.

Like many, many people across the globe, new technology has been making a big impact on the changing face of our daily working life. For the foreseeable future, physically going into that office, or meeting a colleague for a casual coffee and informal chat is something that’s off the table. If you’re used to working with teams in other countries or districts, then remote meetings will be old hat; however, for many of us, connecting online with colleagues and clients is a completely new experience. If you want to get familiar with navigating the social etiquette and best practices on how to hold productive remote meetings, then don't worry - we have you covered with our top ten tips below!

Remote Meetings: The Basics

1. Make Sure it’s Necessary

There is a common misconception that just because people are working from home, that they are idle, and dying for some kind of human interaction. In fact, because of the vast amount of work involved in updating systems, learning new technology and generally transitioning businesses online, many people’s workload is fuller than it has ever been. With this in mind, before you call a meeting you must ask yourself: Is this absolutely necessary? Could this be solved with an email thread? If the answer is maybe, then this is a meeting that doesn’t have to happen. Be respectful of other people’s time and be selective when it comes to who is sitting in on it.

2. Schedule a Tech Check

This is a learning curve for everyone. While it’s important to be understanding, we can’t stress how frustrating it is for a large group of busy people to wait on one person to figure out how to unmute their mic - especially when there’s a mountain of work to get done that would put Everest to shame. So if this is your first meeting with any given group, budget time ahead of the meeting to do a digital recce. This will allow people to check that their WiFi signal is strong enough, their camera is working, and how to manoeuvre with the technology without eating into your scheduled time.

3. Be Prepared

Know that people’s calendars have never been so filled with requests for chats, meetings and catch ups as they are right now, and know where you fit into that. If you’re the host of this meeting, then make sure people have as much information available to them before it starts, so they can choose if it’s appropriate for them to go, be fully read up on what’s going to happen, and can do any research or prep on their end ahead of the meeting. In the title of your invite, have a clear indication of what you intend to cover over the course of the meeting; ‘General Catch Up’ for instance is just too vague. Circulate an agenda to all attendees, and make sure you budget a realistic time frame for the online call, and stick to it, as best you can.

4. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

What is the goal of this online meeting? Is this a catch up with colleagues about daily targets, or is there a focussed to-do list a mile long? Either way, lengthy chit chat about the present, terrifying news does not help you achieve it. If you’re running this meeting, then it’s your role to make sure it stays on task. We recommend that if things start to veer off course - table all off-topic subjects until the end of the meeting, then people with time constraints can opt out, knowing that all the important areas have been covered. Again, it all comes back to respecting other people’s schedules. You’ll find that if you host one too many meetings where people start talking banana bread recipes or personal politics, you’ll get less and less people ‘available’ for meetings in the future.

5. Clear Ground Rules

The general rules of thumb for remote meetings are as follows: punctuality is key, pay attention, cameras on, mics off and be respectful of whoever is talking. Don't be afraid to establish these again clearly in the agenda if you're hosting the first meeting of a new group. Once a meeting is fast moving and to the point, people should have no time to answer work emails, or have a muted going back and forth with their partner in their kitchen. As the host, you must lead by example. Also, it’s your responsibility to introduce people if they’re new to any given group.

6. Dress to Impress

And this goes double for your space. If you think no one is eyeing up your piles of dirty washing in the background, or your collection of bathrobes, think again. As a host, being clean and groomed is paramount. No one is expecting formal wear or an hour’s worth of makeup application, however, brushed hair, relatively smart attire (as far as the webcam can see, at least) and a tidy space goes a long way to giving a professional impression. And keep that door closed… avoid any unexpected visitors in the form of pets or children at all costs!

7. Get Acquainted with the Software

Back in the days of in-person meetings, nothing was more awkward than a speaker struggling, trying to get a projector working, or having connectivity issues with WiFi. And when it comes to remote meetings, the same principles apply; have all those kinks worked out beforehand. Once you have your agenda planned, have all relevant links, slides, or items you’d like to share ready to go. Familiarise yourself with the screen sharing options of the software you’ll be using, as well as the chat box, and the muting buttons. Do you need to set up breakout rooms or share a clip? Do a test run of everything you’ll be using ahead of the meeting so everything runs seamlessly on the day. And dear god, use a work-only profile. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people accidentally sharing the dodgy sites they’ve been visiting while utilising the screen sharing option.

8. Minimise Distractions

When it comes to contributing to a larger group, it’s best practice to mute your own mic. However, if this is a group of people not too familiar with online meetings, be prepared for all sorts of background noise. You’ll have pets, kids, partners pottering around kitchens… if you’re the admin, then it’s on you to mute everyone. If someone wants to ask a question or contribute, get them to put up their hand or use the chat box. And be very mindful of background noise or any other issues emanating from your own side, don’t be afraid to check in occasionally and see if everyone can see and hear you.

9. Share the Workload

Are you wondering how you can keep people engaged during meetings and keep track of everything that happens, and adhere to the agenda? Phew - that sounds like a lot, because it is. Then here’s a bit of invaluable advice,  assign and rotate various admin roles within the meeting. Get your team to take turns being the facilitator, timekeeper and notetaker. It will not only allow for a smoother run of things, but will also give everybody a greater understanding and empathy when it’s someone else's turn to run the meeting and things start to go wrong.

10. Follow Up

And finally, don’t let what you cover in the meeting fall by the wayside. There’s nothing worse than constantly going over the same topics again and again. Keep track of everything you get through, assign tasks, send follow up via email with any actionable or notable items. Then, the next time you all meet, you can see how far you’ve come in relation to reaching those goals. Celebrating achievements is a great way to start any meeting!

Is there anything you’d like to add? Do you have any tips or tricks that you find keep the momentum of a remote meeting going? Then we’d love to hear them - just comment below! 

Looking to follow a career in Cyber Security, Network Engineering or Software Development?. If you're looking for IT training apprenticeships, then look no further. Meet the FIT team on 17th October in Croke Park's Hogan Suite. Register for your FREE ADMISSION to Ireland's leading careers fair right here.

FIT & The New Tech Apprenticeships

FIT are Ireland’s Appointed Coordinators of the new National Tech Apprenticeships. These Apprenticeships aim to attract and grow the talent pipeline by providing training in Software Development, Network Engineering and Cyber Security. There has never been a better time to pursue a career in Ireland’s IT sector.

Currently, there’s over 12,000 current vacancies in the tech sector-as highlighted by the recent FIT ICT Skills Audit 2018. Delivered with their valued partners, Ireland’s Education and Training Boards (ETBs), FIT are helping more people to discover their talents through training. This concept remains at the heart of the national apprenticeship system.

Furthermore, these companies are keen to recruit Smart People with Smart Skills. These new Tech Apprenticeships allow participants to ‘earn while they learn’. In addition, this has been championed by industry and is now incorporated as an integrated component of statutory provision. Over a two-year period the programme combines college-based learning with on-the-job application. This in turn culminates in the attainment of the ICT Associate Professional Apprenticeship Award QQI Level 6.

 

The Tech Sector Wants YOU!

Demand for people with tech skills is growing rapidly! The digital transformation has captured the attention of the nation’s industries. Hence, many great companies are looking to apprenticeships to fill their skills gaps.

Emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are creating new industrial sectors. Driverless cars, delivery by drones and further prospects result in the creation of new roles. These new roles demand skill sets and career paths across all sectors of the economy. And this’s expected to grow in the coming years.

Built on a proto-type that was ‘road-tested’ with over 150 leading technology companies sponsoring 249 successful participants, the New Tech Apprenticeships facilitates three track of technology training nationwide:

 

FIT are looking for people with a passion for IT with a can-do attitude and aptitude for learning.

Follow FIT on social media for all the latest Tech Apprenticeship news!

@FastrackIntoIT on Facebook and Twitter/fit.tech.apprenticeship on Instagram

Jobs Expo Dublin will be hosting a diverse line-up of talks and seminars from professional trainers, employers and career coaches. Career Coach, Thomas McCormack, will be giving his talk, Chasing Dreams & Beginning Again, on our Agenda Stage.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, many people in Ireland have been made redundant. This virus has changed all our lives in an unprecedented fashion. It's very easy to get into a rut and focus on the negative. We see it on our screens and hear on our airwaves each and every day.

However, this time has also allowed us time to reflects, take a step back from the rat race and gain new perspective on life. We are given a chance to realise what is really important to us. It's true that many have lost their jobs, but this for many can also lead to new opportunities that they might've not taken otherwise.

It's tough to begin again. We are out of our comfort zone and forced to re-think our career path. You might come to terms with the fact that you wanted to leave your job, but were too afraid to take the first step. For some there might even be a dream job that they haven't yet woven into reality. Sometimes you just need that extra push.

For those are seeking a new career opportunity, Jobs Expo will be returning to Croke Park on 17th October. We've a variety of employers looking to recruit on the day and career coaches and speakers offering advice throughout the day. Register today for FREE ADMISSION and we'll see you this autumn.

 

Starting your career, facing final exams or looking for that new job is stressful at the best of times. Coupling it with the most uncertain of times, in the midst of a global pandemic makes it a time filled with stress and worry for a great many people. Whatever about protecting our physical health from this unseen enemy, it is also vital that we work to maintain and protect our mental health during this challenging time and try to stay in control of the things we can control and be mindful of what we can’t. 

Staying Mindful In a Crisis

Mindfulness is a technique which we can all learn and can help bring some element of calm to this situation. According to mindfulness practitioner Joanne O’Malley; “Mindfulness or being ‘Present’ and ‘Aware’ cultivates a way of being that builds people’s inner resources, their mind & heart fitness. The practice helps us to be in control of our own minds and mental / emotional stats, instead of our minds/ automatic reactions being in control of us.”

Information and misinformation

One of the greatest problems surrounding this pandemic is misinformation, and how people are affected by it. Whether it be my social media platforms, fake websites, messaging apps, or people repeating hearsay in conversation-the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up hundreds of examples of disinformation and misinformation, ranging from fear mongering, to paranoia, to downright dangerous erroneous medical information. It’s vital that you shield yourself from any stress, strain or damage that such misinformation can cause by only abiding by information from trusted sources, such as national media, government and health agencies. The Covid-19 pandemic has monopolised news networks, and is very hard to avoid, but you do need to give yourself a break. Try turning the notifications off on your phone, only check news feeds once a day if you can, because rest assured you will hear the news at some point, and it is best you hear anything from a tried and trusted source.

Health Comes First

You will have increased stress to deal with at this time in addition to what may be pressing deadlines, coursework and/or job applications. But whatever the external pressures that you may have, the most important thing is your health. Everyone deals with the current situation differently so make your own decisions based on what works best for your welfare and be mindful of what your priorities are. Don’t take on unnecessary extra stress or work at this time. While we are all in this situation together, around the world, each and every person has unique life circumstances which may add to their concern. For example, if someone has an underlying health condition that may exacerbate their vulnerability, or has family members who may be at risk, it can detract from their ability to contribute. So bear this in mind if you are involved in group work for a college project or waiting to hear back from someone in relation to a job. Compassion and empathy are more important now than ever so ensure that you treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself. 

Make sure you:

Scientific research has proven that mindfulness techniques demonstrably reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and fear. There is plenty of help out there, both in terms of professional advice and of course free digital resources to help you develop this skill to take some time out to care for yourself.

Useful resources:

www.mindfulnessatwork.ie

https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/mindfulness.html

www.mentalhealthireland.ie

With as many as four out of every ten employers using video interviews at some stage of the recruitment process, the necessity for graduates and other jobseekers to have the ability to project themselves confidently is increasingly important. Video interviews are a core part of the process of getting hired online, a trend which is only going to increase given the current global situation. 

Navigating Video Interviews: What to Expect

There are two primary types of video interviews. Both present their challenges, but one allows some level of personal interaction while the other is a purely automated process. Let’s have a look at what they involve.

One-to-one interviews (Skype or Zoom)

These days, Zoom or Skype are some of our most commonly accessed platforms, so we should all be well used to operating them and knowing what to expect right? Well, an interview on either platform, increasingly likely to be Zoom, is still very different. On a practical level, one to one video interviews can be great. You don’t have to worry about a commute or travel, and you can often be more comfortable in your own environment. Having a sense of familiarity and, to varying levels, control over your surroundings can be a real boost when you’re looking to make the most of your interview opportunity. However, it’s not all plain sailing.

You need to be sure that you have a very good internet connection and make sure you use headphones and a microphone as opposed to your computer’s sound system. Pixelation and poor sound quality will start your interview off on the worst possible footing. ‘Can you hear me now?’ is not the sort of thing that the employer wants to be hearing from you in the early stages of an interview. Make sure you wear something simple in terms of colours, no stripes or dense patterns, and choose a simple background. This can’t always be as easy as it sounds, but any plain surface with a neutral colour will do, try to obviously make sure there is no clutter, posters or distractions in the background.

Employers will often use video interviews both to get to know you and also to test you on various aspects relating to your knowledge of the role. Using screen sharing technology they could get you to modify or compile a spreadsheet, do a presentation or perhaps finish a line of code. These elements can of course be stressful but try and remain calm and remember that your CV has already put you in the employer’s mind, so draw upon the skills you have, and you will be in the right road to making a strong impression. When ending the interview, let the interviewer/interviewers draw it to a close and leave the meeting or end the call.

Automated Video Interviews

These are an increasingly important part of the online hiring process, and are often the first step that a student, graduate or jobseeker will take on this road, prior to online assessments. Automated video interviews basically consist of a virtual environment where you supply answers and give information to an automated platform. Sounds impersonal right? Yes, it is, but like anything else, once you read the briefing notes that should come with the invitation to do the interview, and do your research, then there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to perform during automated interviews. Despite the setting, you will still be asked many of the standard interview questions regarding motivation, knowledge of the company and the sector and also your skills and experiences.

In terms of preparation, practise talking into a blank screen while focusing on your camera or even test out your responses by recording them and playing them back to yourself. Are you happy with them? Maybe also get the opinion of a partner, friend or family member. Make sure you use the practise facility at the start of almost all video interviews, where you can get your tone of voice and speech right before the questions begin in earnest. Like in a personal interview environment, body language can affect performance, so prepare for this like you’re facing your interviewer and you’ll be primed to give it your best shot.

What Next?

Following on from the video interview process, candidates will frequently be asked to complete an online assessment. This would normally indicate that you have successfully navigated the video element of the interview, so well done! Although online assessments are increasingly automated it is expected, and normal, that you ask for some feedback on your performance during this part of the process. Like any part of the selection process, the interviewer is trying to gauge you as a person as well as your skills and experience, so where possible try and let your personality shine through.

Online hiring can be daunting, both for candidates and recruiters, so try to be yourself. In these challenging times, the personal touch is at a premium so try and let it shine through wherever possible.

 

Are you eager to pursue a career in sales and marketing? Talk to a company that specialises recruiting in this area. Field Management Ireland (FMI) will be exhibiting, as well as recruiting, at Jobs Expo Dublin. Register for your FREE ticket today and meet their team on 17th October in the Hogan Suite.

FMI offices are located in Dublin, Belfast and Cork. They regularly deploy over 850 field staff nationwide every week. Because of their scale, the company works with an array of companies. Thus, they partner with smaller artisan retail suppliers right up to large blue chip organisations.

Services

Firstly, FMI provide a complete end-to-end field solution. This comprises of everything from back end support systems right the way through to each personalised customer interaction. By using their services, clients can rely on a consistency of quality and service.

Insight

Field Marketing Ireland are founder members of the European Field Marketing Partnership. Additionally, they are members of bodies CCMA, MSPA Europe, Sales Institute Ireland, Marketing Institute of Ireland and Retail NI. Therefore, they constantly have an eye on current and upcoming trends both within Ireland and across Europe.

Tailored Approach

FMI believes there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Hence, they tailor bespoke solutions for their clients. As a result, they ensure maximum results and return on investment at all times.

People

Although the organisation has Irish roots, it’s an international business made up of over 50 nationalities. They believe that this diverse background gives them a unique perspective in Irish field marketing. Their cosmopolitan team allows them to bring energy and enthusiasm to the brands that they represent.

Jobs Expo Dublin will be running its popular Career Clinic this October 17th. The FREE careers fair, dedicated to jobseekers and professional candidates, returns to Croke Park. In addition to our diverse line-up of exhibitors hiring on the day, there'll be a section where you can get career advice from our Career Coaches. One of the faces you'll see on the day is Thomas McCormack. Thomas will also be giving his talk, Chasing Dreams & Beginning Again, on our Agenda Stage in the Hogan Suite.

About Thomas

A coach is someone who can help you figure out the best answers for you in areas of your life you might be struggling in without judgement or bias. Through the Irish Lifecoach Institute Thomas gained qualifications in Life & Business Coaching, Advanced Career Coaching and Advanced Relationship Coaching. Coaching is something that falls in line with who he really is as a person, and he is happy to devote his time to something that he believes can help people on a regular basis.

Thanks to coaching Thomas has been able to help people work through various aspects of their lives from career decisions and progression to confidence, self-esteem and feeling lost by helping them to bring their life and long-term goals into focus.

His aim is to help you work through the barriers and break free from your comfort zone, your fears and your limiting beliefs so you can begin to work towards living your dream life.

 

Whether it’s in the midst of a global pandemic, or just with the goal of maintaining a better work-life balance, if you find yourself working from home, the rules are generally the same across the board. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tips and advice to keep you as productive as possible and keep your workflow moving. 

Working from Home: The Basics

1. Maintain Regular Hours

If your office job is 9am - 6pm with an hour for lunch, then maintain those hours as best you possibly can. Even if your boss is easy going, and just happy to receive your work by a given deadline, these hours are in place to benefit you. There’s nothing worse than falling down the slippery slope, the end of which involves you spending all day playing Call of Duty, then finishing off your workload at 11pm each night. Discipline across the board is key - and that goes for creating boundaries too. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re available to help out with that pitch at any given time of the day. 

2. Minimise Those Digital Distractions

When it comes to working from home, it’s not as simple as the stock photos might have you believe - especially for parents who might face regular interruptions and demands. The key to maintaining best work practices is creating discipline and structure and that goes double for your desktop. If you’re tempted to open random tabs in your browser, find the right app or plug-in to block them. Also, creating a new login to your computer so you can access and manage your work files with ease is important. This is also where that dedicated space will come into play - but more on that later. 

3. Keep Up Company Culture

Maintaining good work relationships is essential, perhaps not always for getting the job done - that all depends on the task at hand - but certainly when it comes to communication within a team. Carve out time to check in with your co-workers; find time for a post-meeting chat or even a digital drinks session if you can’t be there in person. It’s a great way of gaining more insight into the workings of the business, and how you can best contribute - as well as paves the way for maintaining your sanity when times get busy or tough!

4. Actually, Take Your Lunches

Working from home can restrict your daily movement considerably, which can in turn affect your mood and energy levels. Even if you have a stationary desk job, don’t underestimate those extra steps you’ll have accrued walking to the bus stop or going to the local shop to pick up your lunch. Take your breaks as scheduled and spend them away from your desk, incorporating some movement if possible. Don’t underestimate the toll that sitting in one place and staring at a screen can have on your body. 

5. Manage Meetings Professionally

When it comes to online meetings, professionalism and courtesy is vital. Even in a larger group conference call, it’s not the done thing to munch on a bowl of cheerios while carrying on a conversation with your partner when your colleague is talking. If this is a meeting that really doesn’t apply to you, don’t be afraid to flag this, and just follow up with the minutes/highlights afterwards. If this is something that you absolutely have to be involved in, then be present. Make sure your mic and camera are working and be ready to contribute where appropriate. 

5. Ask for Help if You Need It

If there’s one major difference when it comes to working from home, it’s that you can’t simply knock on your colleague's door and ask them those mundane daily questions, such as:  ‘Where is that file located?’ or ‘Have you been chatting with the client about their numbers?’ and those bigger questions, such as asking for a raise, or support in an area you need it, are hard to bring up at the best of times. This is where maintaining a good relationship with your boss and team comes into play. Just because you’re at home, doesn't mean that you’re off the grid, and there’s plenty of free technology out there to facilitate this; check out Discord, Slack or the vast number of other options available to make sure you stay connected and don't get left behind!

6. Use This Time to Upskill

Once you have your schedule locked into place and are happy with your daily routine, this is the perfect time to introduce an online training course, or some practical learning to your working from home regime. You can use this time to hone your Excel ability, or even to complete the professional CBD or Postgrad that you’ve had on your bucket list for years now. Discuss this with your boss today, as many companies or businesses might be able to provide you with a training bursary. 

7. Create a Dedicated Workspace

Your immediate environment has a big impact on your productivity - so think hard when compiling that list of items you need, be it a potted plant, a desk, a comfortable chair, a screen at just the right height, and find a space in your home where you will face minimal interruptions. And perhaps most important: if it’s at all possible, make sure this isn’t the same space you’ll be relaxing in with your loved ones later as you could find yourself checking work emails after dinner, or just finishing off one final thing when you should be winding down for bed. We can't stress this enough, maintaining those boundaries are so important for creating a sustainable and efficient relationship with your job.

8. Give Yourself a Beak

We’re all human, we all make mistakes or procrastinate from time-to-time. Don’t set yourself up for failure by beating yourself up over a simple error. The important thing to remember is that this is a process. Keep on track, and don’t be afraid to reach out if you find yourself struggling at any point.

We hope you find those tips helpful. If you need additional help or support or want to take the next step in your career, make sure to join us for the next Jobs Expo event.

Although Jobs Expo Dublin has now rescheduled from from April 25th until October 17th, we are working to make this our biggest event yet. We are expanding our seminars for the day. The Interview Tutor, Orla Donagher, will be coaching in our Career Clinic for the day. In addition, Orla will be giving her talk Feel the fear and do it anyway: Everything you need to know about returning to work on our Agenda stage.

About Orla Donagher

Orla Donagher founder of Interview Tutor has over 15 year’s industry experience in Personnel management, Staff recruitment and Career consultancy. Orla offers her services regularly as a Career Coach and seminar speaker at the Jobs EXPO.

She has contributed to articles in Irish times, the Sun newspaper, Stellar Magazine and has appeared as a Career Coach in the RTE 2 series “The Unemployables”. She has also given radio Interviews on Today FM and Dublin City FM to discuss various Career topics.

Orla has a Degree in European Business and languages, Diploma in Public relations and advertising. She is also CIPD certified in Personnel Practise

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