Well what an unexpected few months it has been! The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy has been widespread, and has certainly affected a number of our co-op employers and students. For example, Business Administration student Isabel Ytuarte found herself unexpectedly transitioning to a remote work environment towards the end of her time with the Department of National Defence this winter.
“Although it’s not how I imagined to be spending the end of my co-op term, adapting to the work from home lifestyle has been somewhat easier than I expected,” Isabel says. “Through having a routine and staying connected with my supervisor and co-workers, I’ve been able to find a system that works for me. Our team has a WhatsApp group and holds weekly meetings on Zoom, so while this gives us the time to discuss work topics, it’s also a great opportunity to catch up with co-workers and see how everyone has been.”
As social distancing measures continue for an extended period of time, many other students are in a position where they need to adjust to the new reality of working from home. Thankfully, our accrediting body CEWIL Canada has come up with a resource page for students and employers to help guide you through this uncertain time.
Tips for working at home
As Isabel mentions, working remotely definitely requires some adjustments. Here are some top tips for working at home.
1.Routine is key. Try to keep consistent office hours during the week and communicate with your supervisor and co-workers about when you will be available.
2.Dress professionally. It may sound silly, but this really does help you get into a professional mindset! Plus, you won’t have to scramble for a nicer wardrobe when your supervisor calls that last minute video conference meeting with the whole team.
3.Set up a dedicated workspace. We might not all have access to a full home office, but do what you can to separate your workspace from the rest of your living space and choose a space that is as quiet and as private as possible. Some employers may offer to provide you with a computer or other technology, and it’s a good idea to speak with your supervisor before the work term starts to see what tools you might need at home to do your job effectively.
4.Avoid distractions (especially social media). Do your best to put your phone away and log out of personal social media accounts when you are working. Of course, it’s good to schedule little breaks throughout the day as well. That way you’ll be able to return to your work with greater focus. Those cute cat videos will still be there during your next break. 😊
5.Check in with your team frequently. Ask your supervisor how often they’d like you to share project updates with them, and their preferred contact method (phone, text, email, instant message, etc.) It’s also a good idea to schedule weekly video calls so you can discuss any challenges you might be facing. Even though you’ll be working remotely, your team is still there to help you! We recommend using video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Meetings, or Skype for Business.
Check out CEWIL Canada’s website for additional tips and resources that can help both students and employers navigate co-op work terms during COVID-19.
The Co-op Team is here to support you
Finally, as Isabel says, “It’s important to keep reminding myself that everyone is in the same situation of trying to adjust to this new normal, and it’s okay to take the time to process what’s going on around us.” It will take time to get used to this new and unique environment, so go easy on yourself and look for ways to practice self-care both during and after work hours.
If questions or concerns do arise, feel free to reach out to the Mount Co-op Team. Just like you, we’re doing our best to work effectively from home until social distancing measures can be lifted. In the meantime, stay safe and be well. We look forward to seeing you again when our campus reopens. You’ve got this!