Tuesday, May 26th, 2020
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many more people to work from home than has previously been the case. Employers have adapted quickly to provide collaboration and conferencing tools to make this possible.
But you might already be planning to ‘get back to normal’ once social distancing rules are relaxed, which is likely to occur in the coming weeks to some extent, and continue over the course of several months.
However, it’s worth considering whether working from home can be good for your business in the long term. You could find that in more stable times, flexible working conditions can unlock considerable benefits for you and your staff.
First of all, many employees would love to have the opportunity to work from home once the COVID-19 pandemic is over (and it will end, although that might seem unlikely right now).
Working from home doesn’t mean lower productivity. In fact it can increase output for some employees, while others will be more willing to keep working after 5pm to finish their duties for the day.
Overall, companies that fully embrace homeworking as a part of their regular culture – and provide staff with the tools they need to do their job from home as standard – often make significant productivity gains as a result.
Talent Pool Access
Working from home is a form of flexible working, along with others like job-sharing and flex-time that accommodate employees who are unable to work precise 9am-5pm hours.
Together, these kinds of flexibility give you access to a wider talent pool including individuals who might normally be shut out from jobs due to fairly arbitrary contractual requirements like working hours and workplace location.
By catering for their more flexible needs, you can pick up the very best individuals for the roles you recruit into, and gain talent that your competitors have missed.
Working from home, the only commute is from bed to the home office or kitchen table. In some jobs, it might not even be that far, as employees might reasonably log on from a laptop without leaving the warmth and comfort of their bed at all.
In any case, on days when there is significant transport disruption due to delayed or cancelled public transport or road closures, your workforce will still be able to log on remotely, whether homeworking is their default or just there as a backup.
Finally, allowing employees to work from home can substantially reduce your overheads. If they never normally come into the office, you don’t need to provide them with a desk space, a computer (many will prefer to use their own laptop or PC if it’s safe and secure to do so) or consumables like stationery and tea or coffee.
Your utility bills will be lower, and your insurance could cost less too. In cases where your entire workforce can be home-based, you might be able to eliminate physical offices completely.
The potential benefits vary between different businesses, but they are often extremely compelling. So whether you have been forced to introduce homeworking by COVID-19 or you are simply curious about how it can help your business, it’s certainly worth considering for the long term.
Friday, May 22nd, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every business to a greater or lesser extent, so no matter what industry you are applying in, it’s likely that job hunting has been affected for you too.
Whether these changes will create a ‘new normal’ for the long term remains to be seen, but with social distancing measures likely to remain in place to some extent for many months, there are a few things worth keeping in mind at least for the medium term.
1. Be patient
First of all, every stage of the job hunting process is likely to take longer, as many employers are dealing with significant disruption to their normal recruitment procedures.
Be patient – give them extra time before chasing for a response to your application. If possible, make a note of any deadlines for applications, so you know when to time your follow-up for the best impact.
Working with a recruitment agency is a good way to make sure your applications don’t get missed or misplaced by HR professionals who are not used to working from home.
2. Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit
At the moment, even talented candidates could face delays in finding work. Again, a good recruitment agency can arrange the introductions you need, but you might still want to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.
These benefits are designed to bridge the gap when you are not earning anything and special arrangements have been made regarding eligibility and how quickly you can start receiving benefits payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Face-to-face interviews
Strict social distancing rules mean very few employers will currently be holding face-to-face interviews, but that will change as those instructions are eased by the government in the coming weeks.
However, you may still want to request a video interview. Many employers will have used video calls and video conferencing apps for interviews during this time and might be happy to continue doing so even when it is not entirely necessary to do so.
4. Video interviews
If you are offered a video interview, treat the opportunity with respect – even more so than a normal video call in the course of your job.
Plan in advance so that you have a professional-looking background, are dressed and groomed to the appropriate standard, and if possible locate yourself somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed.
There are plenty of technical aspects to consider, such as lighting, video quality and microphone volume, but especially at the moment, employers will be a little more flexible as these are unusual circumstances for interviewers and candidates alike.
5. The future
Keep up to date with any changes to social distancing rules as the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds – especially anything that could affect your ability to attend an interview or even attend your new job at all.
If you are successful in an application, make sure you know if you can work from home and if so, whether that is a permanent arrangement or you will be required to commute into the workplace once it is safe to do so.
Job hunting is not impossible, in spite of the significant impact COVID-19 has had on all our lives. Stay aware and be flexible, as conditions will change.
Tuesday, May 19th, 2020
If you’ve worked from home in the past, you might have found friends and relatives treated you as though you didn’t have a ‘real’ job. This is especially the case if you were self-employed.
Many people are still amazed that it’s possible to earn a living working from home. While the ‘easy money’ ads you see all over the internet are usually a scam, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a substantial income to be earned without leaving your house.
Accounting and bookkeeping are essential services for most businesses, so they form a discipline with relatively guaranteed levels of demand and no real need for physical premises.
If you have the skills and relevant qualifications, you have everything you need to get started offering accountancy services from home.
Most of the jobs mentioned in this article are service-based, but dropshipping bridges the gap between a service role and direct-to-customer retail.
Basically, you list products for sale at a markup. When a customer places an order, you pass that order directly to the wholesaler who takes care of the inventory and shipping.
It’s a way to turn a profit without handling any physical goods yourself. You’ll need to be savvy with marketing the items you sell, but if you’re confident you can master that, dropshipping is relatively low-risk and potentially high-reward.
Websites like Etsy provide a platform for creators to sell handmade items and homemade crafts directly to customers worldwide.
This is a little more hands-on than dropshipping and the service-based ideas mentioned in this article, but if you’re passionate about what you create and you’re confident you can sell it at sufficient scale to generate an income, it’s a rewarding career choice for many people.
Individuals who are talented in graphic design, sound production and video editing can capitalise on these skills to earn a good living from their own homes.
For many people, these skills started out as a passing interest before developing into a hobby and then a passion – meaning you can generate a solid income doing something you actually enjoy, in a place of comfort.
Online education is growing fast and native English-speakers have a distinct advantage, as there is demand worldwide to teach English to international students.
You can do this remotely from your own home and there are online platforms that give you a reliable rate of pay, along with lesson plans and any other essential information you need.
There’s a wide range of writing services you can offer from home. Outsourced blogging and copywriting, editing, proofreading and translation services are all in demand.
You don’t need any equipment – just a computer and an internet connection – and as your reputation as a writer grows, you can scale up your business and raise your prices accordingly.
Pursue your passion
The above ideas barely scratch the surface of the different ways to make money from home, whether via the internet, awareness in your local community or otherwise.
If you have a true passion project and you can afford to take the risk, have a go. You can start many online initiatives in your evenings and weekends until you’re sure there’s a market out there.
Entrepreneurial spirit is a hunger that can only be sated by giving it your best shot – and if your idea is a strong one, it’s likely there’s money to be made from it.
Friday, May 15th, 2020
We’ve all made changes to the way we live, work and play due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations, and office jobs have been some of the most significantly affected.
In recent years there has already been a trend towards working from home. Employment law has required that employers give serious consideration to employee requests for flexible working conditions, but these may have been dismissed in the past for various reasons.
The Coronavirus pandemic shifted the balance. It’s no longer a case of employers considering whether to make an exception for individual requests to work from home – instead, entire workforces were ordered by the government to stay in their homes if at all possible.
As we move through the pandemic and into the period that lies beyond it, it’s going to be much more difficult for employers to legitimately reject working from home requests from any employee, whether they have a ‘need’ for flexible working or not.
Working in pyjamas
We’re in a state of flux right now, but looking to the long term, will we all be working in pyjamas in the years to come?
It depends in part on how quickly we return to ‘normal’ social distancing conditions. At present, and for the foreseeable future, there will be a need to keep two metres apart wherever possible, including in the workplace.
That is simply impossible in most offices. Remember that two-metre exclusion zone applies in all directions – face-to-face, workers seated side by side, facing each other across a desk, in meetings, at the water cooler or coffee machine, and so on.
While it could be achieved in some workplaces by constant self-awareness and changes to working practices, it’s much easier for many companies just to let their employees stay home and dial in over the internet.
Keeping in touch
This raises the question of communication and collaboration. There are plenty of tools that allow teams to collaborate remotely, such as online platforms to enable multiple users to edit a document at the same time, and of course video conferencing apps.
At the moment many of those tools and applications are being offered for free, or for a significantly reduced price, but it could be hard for companies to find free or low-cost alternatives once the usual subscription models are reinstated.
By then, many employees will likely be reluctant to return to the daily commute and formal office attire, having had a taste of working from the kitchen table with their own preferred brand of coffee on tap.
Applying for office jobs in COVID-19
The truth is, nobody really knows which parts of the old system will return and which of the many significant and sudden changes will become part of the ‘new normal’.
When applying for office jobs during COVID-19, it’s worth asking the interviewer how much they have been impacted and what temporary and permanent changes they have introduced.
At the very least, this shows you have a long-term interest in working for their company, while giving you some insight into how quickly – and to what extent – they hope to return to their previous practices regarding flexible working conditions, once the Coronavirus emergency begins to ease.