Apprentice in Lockdown
Lots of routines in our lives are ones that we have inherited. Our place of work will often determine our physical location, and in business consultancy, naturally there’s scheduled site visits, meetings and designated periods for different tasks. Like for many other apprentices in my field, the new working environment itself is one that demands a time of acclimatisation.
COVID-19 has no doubt radically altered the working environment and invariably forced workers across office-based industries to rethink and recreate their routines.
I have found challenges, lessons and benefits during the lockdown as an apprentice, and I’m certain that the pandemic will change the way we approach work going forward.
The new home-working landscape is not one that I would have expected in my industry, particularly as an apprentice consultant; where social interaction is key for team building and client relations.
Very much at the start of my career, I am learning how to spend my time in the most commercially productive way possible. With studying also playing a significant part of my job, there is a balancing act that has also been affected by the lockdown.
Brand New Landscape
The first thing I had to tackle when the lockdown came into effect was the ‘where’ aspect of the new routine. I’m fortunate that there is an office space in the house, but it was a case of carving a section for my own work and familiarising myself with my family taking their own work calls creating a generally constant loud background noise, not related to my tasks.
It’s a strange feeling undertaking client work, sat in my shorts, surrounded by my family members, who are also working, in their shorts.Ben Chappell
I have had to learn how to stick to a new routine and block out distractions that would have never affected my workspace on a normal working day.
As an apprentice consultant, site visits are an invaluable experience for my future development. Not being able to carry these out in person has been difficult and has reminded me of how important it is to be on site with clients.
Not having that key access to the businesses that we’re consulting and growing can lead to thinking that something has been missed. On site is the best place to get a bigger perspective of the challenges and the opportunities in front of a business. With a limited perspective comes a risk of overlooking such challenges and opportunities.
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It has been incredibly helpful for me to have regular communications with my mentor and senior managers at BCS to make sure I’m navigating the workload efficiently despite the unfamiliar working environment. I’ve been very fortunate to continue to receive the one-to-one learning services that have been invaluable to me for the last six months of my apprenticeship.
Where routines can be continued almost like for like, I think it’s really important for employers to provide this platform of stability.
BCS have managed this really well for my apprenticeship and it shows the benefits of agile working and creative solutions when things change substantially. We’re even doing virtual Friday drinks which has enabled me to chat with everyone in the business and a fun thing to do!
Focussing your attention within a distracting environment is a useful skill to have, and it’s one that many of us have had to learn quickly during the Covid-19 lockdown. One of the ways to develop this is to create and stick to a realistic and effective routine.
I have been proactive in segmenting my day and week and it has really helped. Each day at lunchtime I have done a 20 minute home workout followed by a 20 minute run.
I’ve found it to be really beneficial to take my mind off the tasks at hand for a short period of the working day, regardless of the fact that I’m working from home.
I’ll definitely take a new sense of confidence in working independently back to the office when the lockdown is over. I’ve been balancing client tasks with Southbank University
Work successfully, which has given me assurance that my routine is productive.
One of the lessons for my industry is that we now know that a significant amount of work can be done remotely if the circumstances require it. However, I am also very much aware of the importance of social interaction for both the office teams and client relations.
(There have also been some accidental benefits too in saving money that would usually be spent on a daily commute to London, which I intend to spend on headphones and new shorts.)
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