An Apprentice's Guide to Working from Home during Coronavirus
Written on: 6 April 2020
Written by: Frances Hardcastle
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If you're an apprentice working in a digital or tech-sector job, you might find yourself working remotely during the Coronavirus pandemic. Working from home as an apprentice comes with a unique set of challenges, but you can set yourself up for success with our five key tips:
1. Set up your workspace
Let's face it, pretty much every article on remote working starts with "set up your home office" - but what are you supposed to do if you live with your parents and share a bedroom with your brother?
This is a strange time to start working from home. If you have a desk and some noise-cancelling headphones, brilliant: you're all sorted. However, Coronavirus means that a lot of people are staying away from their workplace, and you may have some competition for the kitchen table.
Try to find somewhere quiet in your home where you can set up a laptop. This doesn't need to be a permanent set-up, so long as it's somewhere where you can concentrate while you work. If you don't have a quiet room available, an ironing board can make an impromptu desk for a landing or hallway.
If you have a spare monitor or larger screen you can plug into, do it - especially if you're working on something visually demanding. If you're working from a small screen, it's important to rest your eyes and take regular breaks.
2. Learn to handle distractions
You're working hard. But you're on your laptop, wearing PJs and listening to music. To your parents, it looks like you're free to look after your little sister. How do you handle this?
The current climate has put a lot of pressure on families as schools close and work and home lives blur together. Compromise and communication have never been more important. If you can be flexible, you may find it useful to draw up a schedule with others at home so that you can each balance your work with family commitments.
Talk to your family and make others in your household aware of what it is that you need to get done each day. You could decide on a visual cue - such as wearing a specific hoodie, or sticking a bright post-it to your computer - and let younger siblings know that when they see this signal, it means you're at work and you need to concentrate.
If distraction is coming from within, and you find yourself scrolling Instagram without your manager to keep you focused, you need to take a different approach. Draw up a realistic timetable, add your tasks and breaks - and stick to it. You could download a content blocker to stop you straying from work-related websites, or if you can't stop checking your phone for Coronavirus news, why not try the Forest app? With this app, you plant virtual trees and let them grow while you work for a set timeframe (it's oddly soothing).
3. Keep in contact with your team
Communication is so important while working remotely. When you can't just pop over to your manager's desk to ask a question, it can be quite easy to feel a bit lost.
Setting up regular check-in sessions with your boss and the rest of the team is a really good way to stay on track and keep your priorities in order. Talk to your team about the best way to do this, and experiment with online tools like Slack and Zoom.
4. Get ahead on your training
If office shutdowns have resulted in a reduced workload for you, you can keep up the momentum on your apprenticeship by getting ahead with your training.
At Baltic, we're supporting apprentices affected by Coronavirus disruption by letting employers move training sessions forward to fill an activity gap. We are also offering additional courses for our current apprentices, so that you can use any downtime to obtain an industry-recognised MTA certification.
Coronavirus has caused a lot of a things to come to a standstill, and it can be hard to stay motivated. But when it's over - and it will be over - your digital and tech skills will be in huge demand. Make sure you're ready for the new world of work by making the most of your time indoors. If you aren't sure where to start, your Learning Mentor should be able to point you in the right direction.
5. Look after your wellbeing
Let's be honest, this is a worrying time for a lot of people and we don't know how things are going to develop over the coming weeks. Your first priority throughout all of this must be looking after your wellbeing. What this means will vary from one person to the next, but whether it's carving out some time for a home workout, curbing your news-binging habit, or growing plants on your windowsill, it's important to find ways to feel good.
If you have any worries or concerns about the current situation, your Baltic Learning Mentor is here for you. As a Baltic Apprentice, you also have access to the Mindful Employer apprentice helpline. If you're struggling, please get in touch.