I have been with Oakleaf since July 2018 and in April this year, I was told I was being furloughed (until further notice) along with others across of the business. It was obviously a shock and the concept of ‘furlough’ was something extremely unfamiliar (as I am sure was the case for most people).
Everyone’s experience of furlough will have been different. Although there have certainly been negative consequences due to so much uncertainty and perhaps lack of job security, I would like to focus on some of the positives I have taken away from it in an effort to help those who may be struggling whilst still in the process or those who need some focus and help kick starting their careers.
1. Time to focus on what is important
It is so rare to have the gift of time. Whether it is spending time with your family and/or friends or just focusing on yourself, it is necessary to find the time to focus on what matters to you. I undertook a French course as I am a frequent traveller there in the summer months. The online course suited me perfectly as it was flexible and I could work on it autonomously. It was definitely money well spent as I noticed a huge improvement when I went back in August! This is just one example of how I used my time but having a focal point helped me when I didn’t have the routine and structure I was used to.
2. General wellbeing
For obvious reasons, this is a particularly prevalent topic and I have found it is cropping up in most conversations I am having with candidates and clients. Personally, I have found it incredibly important to stay active during this time (for my own sanity and to stop myself going stir-crazy!). This is something I intend to incorporate into our new, flexible working pattern. I have also spent a lot of time cooking (I enjoy eating!) and being experimental in the kitchen. It is vital to find the time to concentrate on your personal wellbeing in order to operate effectively inside and outside of the workplace. Although some restrictions are being lifted, it is a long road ahead and I strongly believe the wellbeing of individuals should remain a priority as part of any organisation’s business plans.
3. Exercising gratitude and kindness
It has been a strange time for everyone and each person will have had their struggles, big or small. Furlough has given me the time to stop, listen and reflect on people’s experiences. It has been noticeable that when the chips are down, there is a sense of community and unity amongst people. This has helped me get through this time and I have found this particularly relevant and helpful since returning to work as we are constantly engaging with our HR network. I think it is important that the gratitude and kindness remains present amongst everyone as we work towards a new normality.
Although I have learnt a lot through this time, it has been clearer than ever that a supportive team inside (and outside) the workplace is essential. I am lucky enough to still have my job and am extremely grateful for my colleagues who have worked through this exceptionally tough period. Oakleaf is a value-driven organisation and that has been evident throughout. I have chosen to look at furlough as a positive experience for my career and will be incorporating what I have learnt into our new way of working.