My first day at CCgroup was less than a year ago. Since then, I’ve had over 40 weeks of working from home. Considering I’ve been here less than 52 weeks, that’s a lot of time out of the office. This isn’t an ideal working environment, and I only got to taste the excitement of “big city working life” (or being a “city slicker” as my dad so fondly refers to it as) for a few weeks before it was ripped away. It’s not been easy, and everyone has had their own challenges, but as a first job experience, it’s felt like a rough deal. Luckily CCgroup has given me all the support I needed, and great tips – making it as easy and pain free as possible.
While I haven’t up until now considered myself to be Gen Z, being born in 1996 apparently fully qualifies me for this title. According to ZDNet, Gen Z has the most trouble working from home during the new normal. Our challenges are unique - we don’t have kids running in every 5 minutes to ask where the Nintendo Switch is, and we don’t have to negotiate also learning Key Stage 2 maths, which incidentally seems to be far more difficult that I remember it being. However, we are often having to work from flats that aren’t really big enough to accommodate 4 laptops and monitors around the kitchen table and trying to find a suitable background can sometimes be tricky. Of course, we do have the added bonus of innately understanding how to mute ourselves quickly, when our flatmate decides to start making lunch inches away from our screens, and I think we all got to grips with juggling Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype pretty quickly.
Every generation has their distinctive challenges with working from home due to the Coronavirus guidance. Baby Boomers are being forced out of the workforce, suffering major salary cuts, and millennials are quickly having to come to terms with the reality that lightning really does strike twice with a “once-in-a-lifetime” recession. From my side, this experience isn’t what I would class as your average first job. Offices are key in socializing and building your network and doing all of this over Zoom doesn’t quite cut it. How many times have you sent a joke in an email that you wouldn’t have thought twice about saying but as soon as it’s written down you can’t decide if it’s just too “unprofessional”? The first three months in a job are crucial for laying the groundwork for future achievements and friendships – initiatives which are far more difficult in a virtual world.
Living in a flat with everyone working “9-5” often means the regular workday structure also doesn’t quite stick. If one flatmate is working late, imposter syndrome can sneak in and make you question why you aren’t working those same hours – despite doing completely different jobs and having completely different responsibilities. A girl I live with is a true night owl, whereas I would rather be up early and be sat on the sofa in time for Bake Off with a cup of tea – this difference in routine has been stressful for both of us. CCgroup has done a great job of ensuring that the staff aren’t suffering burnout with plenty of check-ins from mentors, ‘lunch and learns’ on how to handle stress and keeping the social aspect of work alive with online workshops despite the physical distance. But here are some tips for people in similar situations as me that I’ve found useful:
- Maintain the office banter – I recently had a meeting in which I expressed how welcomed I felt into the CCgroup team and part of that is keeping the social aspects and friendships alive. Sharing a gif, or having a 5 minute chat after a briefing to discuss how you’re doing, or even what you did at the weekend is really beneficial in maintaining connection and preventing you from hurling your laptop across the room.
- Don’t worry about what other people in your house are doing – having someone to rant to after a “bad day in the office” is great (and hearing about work drama concerning people you’ve never met is even better) but don’t forget, your friends have no idea what you actually do at work. They shouldn’t dictate your hours or how you work. If your team is happy with your progress and you’re doing your work well, don’t feel the pressure to mimic the behaviour of your new work environment.
- Remember it won’t be like this forever – Don’t get me wrong, it feels like it will, and being deep in the midst of a second lockdown does not fill me with joy. But we’re not alone in wanting to get back into normal working life without the worry of coronavirus hanging over us like a dark cloud. And at least we now have the light at the end of a pretty dark tunnel in the form of a potential vaccine.
Everyone has got pretty used to working at home by now, so much so, that this second lockdown hasn’t really seemed to phase anyone beyond “it’s all a bit rubbish isn’t it?”. Tackling challenges in this new environment isn’t an isolated issue (ignore the pun), and there are always ways around the frustrations. Luckily at CCgroup we have an active focus on maintaining mental wellbeing and encourage open communication and support which has been immensely helpful throughout this year and for which I am very grateful.