Transitioning into full time employment after graduation can be pretty daunting, particularly due to one crucial life skill you don’t learn in university: the nine-to-five routine. Long gone are the 11am wake-ups, rushing to your midday tutorial and clocking off for the day by 2pm. But what about when that nine-to-five workday from the office abruptly shifts to working remotely from home? For recent graduates out in the workforce, the physical office environment that served as a cue to remind us of the expectations and time pressures upon us no longer exists.
Having only graduated at the end of 2019, it is very easy to be lured back into the bad habits I developed while haphazardly writing assignments at the last-minute throughout University. Unfortunately, smashing out a week’s worth of work in three hours and submitting it to Turnitin by the 12am deadline is no longer an appropriate strategy. Work can and will be expected by a client at any time, sometimes at very short notice. You must stay on top of your work and be ready to have your day turned upside down, without having much control over it.
I’m not saying that I’m now an expert just because I have completely turned my life around and demonstrated such discipline to my work that has left even my closest friends and family shocked… But here are some tips that I have learnt over the past three months for adjusting to working remotely.
- Get into a morning routine
Let’s begin with the basics. Bad habits will flourish if you haven’t tried to develop good ones – don’t start your day by rolling out of bed into a morning Zoom call. Give yourself at least an hour before your start time to properly wake up and get your brain functioning. Have a cup of coffee outside to take in the fresh air or go for a quick jog to get your blood pumping. From my own experience, trying to jump onto a team WIP meeting straight after waking up will only inhibit you from comprehensively taking in crucial information that you will need to plan out your day.
- Maintain and continue to build your connections with colleagues
The connections you form with your ‘work family’ are an important part of your work life, and you shouldn’t let physical separation prevent you from fostering these relationships. Just like your buddies at university who sometimes may have been the only reason you made the choice to attend a class, your work colleagues may be the reason you continue to push through and deliver your best work even on the most stressful days. Keep your connections strong by ensuring you make room for casual conversation with your colleagues- talk about your weekends, make jokes and of course check in each other’s wellbeing. Working from home is a dramatic shift for a lot of us and can be hard to cope with, so keep it as normal as possible in all social respects.
- Use this as an opportunity to grow in your role
This is both my most important tip and learning while working for home. As a newbie in the office with a lot less experience than your colleagues, it can be daunting to be left to your own devices. Especially now that we can’t simply swivel our chair around in the office and ask a colleague for help. But I cannot stress this enough- this is an opportunity to grow! Use this time to make more informed choices in your work and develop more autonomy in your role, rather than relying upon someone else’s direction. Even if you don’t exactly follow the right path, it is okay to make mistakes. We all do! This is still an opportunity to learn from and inform better choices for next time.
- Stay accountable
Just like you would expect to have your seniors check in to see what you’re working on or the status of a task you are conducting, the same should occur while working remotely. Stay present online and respond to internal emails as they come through. We were granted a lot of freedom while at university to do assignments at the pace we pleased (whether that was two weeks ahead of a due date or two hours before), and those of us on the latter end of that scale risk falling back into bad habits. Don’t dodge your colleague’s follow-up emails like you did to the good students you were partnered with in a “group” assignment at university… You know who you are. Embrace check-ins and let your colleagues guide the pace that you should be doing your work at. This is a very effective way to motivate you to stay on top of your work.
- Your bed is not a workstation
This last one might hit home for fellow recent graduates, but I must insist that you resist all temptation to lie in bed while working. It’s important that you separate your ‘work area’ from your ‘down time’ area as much as possible. Treat your workstation as you would at work, inclusive of a desk (or whatever table you have available) and a chair that isn’t bad for your posture. Lying down in bed is a fatal mistake that will only make you feel lazy and tired, which will significantly slow down your work. Your best work cannot be delivered while lying in bed, I’m sorry!
Basically, all I’m trying to say is don’t treat your work like a group assignment at University… You know what I’m talking about.