Author: Egor Naumov -
The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to quickly transition to working from home, whether they were ready or not. Throughout the 19/20 academic year I was working at Quick Release and Ford, experiencing this switch first hand. It is very likely that even after this pandemic is over, many companies will continue the remote working environment or bring in more flexible working conditions, such as spending only a few days in the office per week and the rest from home.
People will not treat you differently in meetings as they will not know how old you are. I was working on a side project for a team that I had not met prior to lockdown for a few months, and they did not know that I was a university student until it was time for a handover as I was finishing my placement. In a way, remote working gives you more credibility as you are only judged on your work and not on your age, so this is a definite plus.
As students, we are more used to remote working than seasoned professionals as we tend to do a lot of work from home regardless of whether there is a pandemic going on. This could be in contrast to people who have worked in the same office for the last 20 years and have got used to the same routine, which working from home completely throws off.
Our generation is a lot more comfortable with technology than some of our older colleagues so a transition to working from home with fully virtual meetings and collaboration is much easier for us. In fact this even helped me out, as once the lockdown started the person who usually ran our big weekly meeting struggled to adapt to running it virtually and write minutes at the same time. So, I got the chance to do it myself and did so until the very end of my placement 6 months later.
It is certainly harder to manage your time while working from home, as when you are in the office you will naturally have breaks when people come over to your desk or you go to get a coffee. However, any break at home, at least for me, felt like skiving off work. There was always a guilty feeling about it. I spoke to my colleagues and everyone experienced something similar, although the amount of guilt experienced varied. Breaks are extremely important and as long as you don't leave your desk for hours you will most certainly be fine.
Remote working also means that if your company lets you, you can alter your hours slightly. This can become an unhealthy habit with people working significantly longer hours, as they don't physically leave the "office" and hence, don't stop thinking about work, but you can leverage this in healthier ways. When working on individual projects with set deadlines, I would sometimes work till a bit later than my normal hours in order to free up some time for a meeting for the day after or to make up for a less productive day the day before. I found that a lot more enjoyable than the strict 8-5 at the office.
The most important thing while working remotely is probably to ensure to leave your house throughout the day. Instead of taking an hour lunch break, I would usually go for a walk during that time and then have lunch at my desk. To still be reachable by my colleagues for that period of time, I had Slack and Webex Teams on my phone, so that if anything urgent came up I would be able to respond to a message. This was always a nice break and a great separator in my day which allowed me to structure my work better.