Today officially marks ‘Freedom Day’ in Sydney, as we leave lockdown after a mammoth 107 days of staying at home. For a lot of us, this meant working from home for 15 weeks. 15 weeks of Zoom calls, phone calls, and trying our best to keep on top of working remotely. For others it meant putting their job on hold, as they were no longer able to work at all. No matter what your work situation was for the past 15 weeks, it is undoubtedly going to feel a little weird returning to work in-person after such a long period of doing things differently. We’ve put together the top tips for preparing to return to work after lockdown lift.
Tip 1. Make communication a priority
There will likely be some confusion about when the return-to-work is happening and how it will all work. Stay in regular communication with your employer via Zoom and phone calls to make sure you have a super clear idea of what your work’s return-to-work plan is. This is also a good time to ask any questions you may have, such as whether your vaccination status will affect your return to work. During this time, keep communication lines open and make sure any questions you have are appropriately answered.
Tip 2. Ensure your workplace is COVID safe
You may have reservations about returning to work while COVID-19 cases are still present in the community. Thankfully, vaccinations have dramatically decreased risks involved with COVID, and there are measures workplaces can take to keep their staff safe. COVID-19 safe practises in the workplace include maintaining physical distancing, practising good personal hygiene, and ensuring the regular cleaning of common spaces. Ask your employer about their COVID-safe plan and what you can do to keep safe and healthy in the workplace. You may also want to reduce the risk of spreading potential disease by opting out of using hot desks and avoiding common spaces in the workplace if they become overly crowded.
Tip 3. Be patient with yourself and others
The past 15 weeks have been hard on everyone, and all of us would have certainly faced our own individual struggles during the lockdown. Many would have been home schooling while working from home, while others may not have worked for quite a while. Take some time to reconnect with each of your co-workers on the return to work and touch base on how they have been going during lockdown. It’s also a good idea to reach out for support from your employer if you need any training to refresh, or help getting back into a work routine.
If the thought of going back to work seems really awful, it’s time to get a new job! Update your profile on I Want 2 Work for the best chance of being noticed by employers. You can log in here.
Today officially marks ‘Freedom Day’ in Sydney, as we leave lockdown after a mammoth 107 days of staying at home. For a lot of us, this meant working from home for 15 weeks. 15 weeks of Zoom calls, phone calls, and trying our best to run a company remotely. For others it meant putting business on hold, as they were no longer able to work at all. No matter what your work situation was for the past 15 weeks, it is undoubtedly going to feel a little weird returning to work in-person after such a long period of doing things differently. We’ve put together the top tips for preparing your business and staff for lockdown lift and the return to work.
Tip 1. Devise a return-to-work strategy
Return-to-work strategies will look different for each business owner and will depend on multiple factors, including the type of business you run, where your staff operate out of, and how many staff you have. A good place to begin is with the government guidelines, which you can access here. These guidelines outline everything you need to know, from when your business can resume trade again if it was put on pause during lockdown, to when masks are no longer required in the office. These guidelines are constantly changing, so it’s best to check them regularly.
Another great resource is the Safe Work Australia site. This is your go-to for all things related to returning to work safely and ensuring the health and safety of your staff.
A few things to consider when devising your return-to-work strategy are when your staff will return to work, if this return to work will be staggered, and if it is more suitable to allow staff to continue working from home. If you do plan on having all your staff back working together, staggering their return – or having staff come in on alternative days – is a good way to ensure social distancing measures. It’s also a simple way to ensure your employees are not overwhelmed by such a sudden shift to their work life.
Tip 2: Make communication a priority
There will likely be some confusion from your staff about when the return-to-work is happening and how it will all work. Stay in regular communication with your staff via Zoom and phone calls to make your businesses’ return-to-work plan clear. This is also a good time to communicate any guidelines your staff need to be made aware of, such as whether their vaccination status will affect their return to work. During this time, keep communication lines open and listen to any questions or concerns coming from your staff.
Tip 3: Ensure the workplace is COVID safe
Your team may have reservations about returning to work while COVID-19 cases are still present in the community. Thankfully, vaccinations have dramatically decreased risks involved with COVID, and there are measures workplaces can take to keep their staff safe. COVID-19 safe practices in the workplace include maintaining physical distancing, practising good personal hygiene, and ensuring the regular cleaning of common spaces. You may also want to reduce the risk of spreading potential disease by eliminating the use of hot desks and encouraging employees to avoid common spaces in the workplace if they become overly crowded.
Tip 4: Set clear policies around illness
It’s important your staff feel safe when they return to work and have peace of mind that they are returning to a healthy environment. One of the best ways to ensure this is to set clear and consistent policies around illness in the workplace. Health advice is likely to be constantly changing throughout the period that your staff is returning to work, but there are some policies you can introduce from the get-go. A good place to start is making it clear to your employees that they must stay home if they are sick, as well as get tested if they are experiencing COVID-like symptoms. This will ensure their illness does not spread throughout the workplace, keeping both your staff and any customers safe.
Tip 5: Practise patience
The past 15 weeks have been hard on everyone, and each of your staff members would have certainly faced their individual struggles during the lockdown. Many would have been home schooling while working from home, while others may not have worked for quite a while. Take some time to reconnect with your each of your staff on their return and touch base on how they have been going during lockdown. It’s also a good idea to see if anyone needs any training to refresh, or help getting back into a work routine.
Interviewing for a job comes with all sorts of nerves, so the less you stress about what you’re wearing the better. If you feel confident in what you’ve got on, this confidence will come across to the interviewer. Here’s our top tips to present the best version of yourself in an interview and dress for success!
Tip 1. Stick to your own style
Stick to the style you feel most comfortable in, with some alterations so it fits the formality of an interview. Love wearing dresses and skirts? A skirt suit could be the perfect option for you. Do you love wearing jewellery? Don’t be afraid to accessorise for the interview but keep it simple with some studs and a small necklace. If you feel confident in what you’re wearing, this confidence will come across to the interviewer. Also, interviewers want to see who you are and what you’re about so it’s important you present the real you in an interview.
Tip 2. Dress for the job you want
Different industries have totally different dress codes, so it’s a good idea to wear something to an interview that you could see yourself wearing to your new job if successful. For example, formal business wear is appropriate for an interview at a large corporation, while wearing something so formal to an interview for a retail position may get you a few strange looks.
Tip 3. Go with the safe option
Unsure what attire is appropriate for the job you’re going for? We present to you: The Safe Option – outfits that will always get the tick of approval and will work for just about any interview. For men, dark trousers or chinos with a button-up shirt is always a good option. Trousers are also a good option for ladies, or a mid-length skirt. Paired with a plain blouse and some simple flats or small heels, you can’t go wrong. Opt for neutral hues for your clothing such as black, tan, or grey and always remember to iron your clothing before the big day.
Tip 4. Keep it simple
It’s important that whoever is interviewing you can focus on what you’re saying and how great a candidate you are for the role. You don’t want your strengths to be outshone by distracting clothing or accessories during your interview. Keep it simple with jewellery and avoid wearing bangles or earrings that make a loud jingle or get in your face. A tie can be a nice formal touch for an interview, but again keep it simple. Your brightest tie will have its time another day.
Another week of lockdown. Yawn. By now, your staff are probably settled into a routine of working from home, but they may also have hit a lockdown plateau: fatigue (especially if they are also homeschooling); a drop in motivation; and a loss of connectivity to their work. You can help combat your team’s lockdown plateau by keeping communication levels up and letting them know you’re still there for them during these hard times. Try these four ideas to stay connected to your staff throughout lockdown.
Tip 1. Check in daily
Whether it’s a quick phone call in the morning with each member of your staff, or a larger group Zoom, daily check-ins are a great way to stay connected. Use this time to not only touch base on work projects for the day, but to also check in with your staff on a personal level. Just by asking them how their weekend was, or how they’re going in lockdown, your staff will feel assured that you truly care for them, and don’t only contact them when it’s work related.
Tip 2: Set challenges
Weekly or monthly challenges are a great way to stay connected to your staff while having some friendly competition. Set up a Zoom call to organise some fun challenges for your staff to complete and keep track of the winners on a virtual scoreboard. These challenges could be anything from who can track the most steps in a day, to who can eat the most dry weetbix in a minute. This is also a great time to learn about some secret talents your staff may have up their sleeves. A Zoom talent show may reveal a secret future poet or piano prodigy among your team.
Tip 3: Try online team building
Another great way to keep your team connected during lockdown is to introduce some virtual team building exercises during your catch-ups. Online games such as Codenames and team trivia are great ways to introduce team building into your Zooms, while keeping it fun. Games like this are perfect for a Friday afternoon, as your staff wind down for the week.
Tip 4: Host a virtual lunch
If your staff is used to having lunch together every day in the office, they’re probably missing these daily lunchtime catch-ups. A great alternative is to invite your staff to have a virtual lunch over Zoom, where everyone can enjoy a meal and chat with no mention of work to be done. Your staff can cook up their favourite meal for the catch-up, or to make the occasion extra exciting you could arrange to have their favourite lunch delivered to them at their home. Financial services firm Deloitte has already done the hard work for you to prove this works: in 2015, it conducted a case study to see how employees reacted to this type of virtual socialising and it was a huge success. It was found that the causal nature of the Zoom, the inclusion of food, and the Zoom having no formal structure allowed for the conversation to flow freely.
Lockdown is an uncertain time for everyone, and each time it happens it brings huge changes to every part of our lives. Depending on your business, there’s a chance your staff are working fully from home – or are required to adhere to a bunch of new working practices if they are on site.
This shift brings both physical and social challenges for your employees and it is critical that you show your staff extra support to get through this lockdown successfully.
Try our top 5 tips for supporting your staff during lockdown:
Tip 1: Keep communication lines open
Maintaining regular communication with your staff during lockdown will let them know that you’re still supporting them, even from afar. Try to check-in with each team member via text or email, or organise a team zoom meeting or two as a chance to catch-up on both work and life. Chatting to your staff face-to-face, or screen-to-screen, via an app like zoom allows you to maintain a great connection with them without physically seeing them in the office. If they are working on site under Covid-safe restrictions, make sure they fully understand what they are required to do and feel comfortable with it.
Tip 2: Ensure your team is work from home ready
If you haven’t done so already, check your staff’s working-from-home set up is suitable and allows them to work effectively. Working from home comes with physical challenges as your staff must move their permanent work setup to a more temporary working space at home. If your staff work on laptops then this is an easy fix, but for employees that need to access a monitor or multiple screens it’s important that these are relocated to their home, or alternatives are arranged for them. Keeping employees’ home setup as much like what they had access to in the office will allow them to continue working productively and bring a sense of familiarity to such an uncertain time.
Tip 3: Respect work-life balance
Remember that being at home for a lot of your staff means extra responsibilities such as teaching or looking after their school-aged children, and making extra meals for their family each day. And that is hard work. You may think that your staff will have extra time to smash out their work, but it’s important to respect that they still have busy lives outside of their work duties and work-life balance is more important than ever for lockdown survival. Encourage your team to continue taking their designated lunch break, get outside for a walk in the sunshine and to log off from their work computer after working hours.
Tip 4: Focus on the positives
While lockdown certainly brings its fair share of challenges to the workplace, it’s important to remember that there are some benefits to both you and your staff working from home. Your staff will save time not having to commute to and from work each day, the usual distractions of the office won’t be present and the flexibility of working from home will allow your staff to manage their own time, while spending more time with family. In fact, 78 per cent of Australian staff believe they’re just as (or more) productive working from home.
Tip 5: Keep an eye on your own mental health
Finally, it’s impossible to support a team of staff without making sure that your own mental and physical wellbeing is on track. This is a tough period; be gentle with yourself. Maintain catchups with your own manager, or other members of staff, for a chance to check-in on how you’re going during this uncertain time. Get outside, spend time with family, and make sure to step away from work each day to just relax.
Using hashtags on Instagram is a quick and easy way to reach new audiences, increase engagement and expand your business potential. Business coach Alison Morgan shares her top six tips on how to use hashtags to grow your business.
Tip 1: Use up to 30 hashtags per post
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post. However, Alison warns consistently using all 30 risks your content appearing messy, so it’s best to mix it up. Whether you place these hashtags in the body of your Instagram caption, or in the comments of your post, does not matter: it won’t affect engagement. However, many businesses choose to place them in the comments in order to keep their captions looking clean and professional.
Tip 2: Create business-specific hashtags to increase your reach
By creating and using hashtags that are relevant to your business you will be able to reach a whole new audience – even those who are not following you. This is because Instagram allows users to search for specific hashtags and then view posts under that hashtag in their own feed, similar to the Instagram home page. By making use of hashtags that are relevant to your brand and what you are posting you will be discoverable to the right audience.
Tip 3: Produce 7 bundles of hashtags and use them on rotation
Instagram can penalise you for repeatedly using the same hashtags on your posts. To avoid this, Alison recommends creating seven bundles of varying hashtags that can be used on different days of the week – so one bundle of hashtags per day. These bundles can contain up to 30 hashtags each, and preferably should include a minimum of 15. By creating these bundles, you will be able to reach new audiences and grow your presence across Instagram.
Tip 4: Ensure your hashtags are specific
Using hashtags that are too broad and used often can mean that your posts get lost among others. Instead, it is important to keep your hashtags specific, so that your audience can easily find you. For example, if you run a café and use the hashtag #cafe, you will be competing with cafes from around the world. Instead, use more specific hashtags such as #cafesydney or #sydneycbdcafe. By making sure your hashtags are specific to your industry, location or community, your audience will be more likely to find your business.
Tip 5: Understand your target audience and create hashtags relevant to them
Alison emphasises the importance of understanding your target audience in order to get the most out of Instagram, and using hashtags to grow your business. The target audience of your business is those who are interested in your relevant industry, so it’s likely that they would follow hashtags related to the industry. This gives you the opportunity to take advantage of these hashtags, to make sure you are reaching the right people. For example, if you work as makeup artist, it is likely that your target audience would be interested in makeup, and may follow hashtags such as #makeupinspo, #makeupartistsydney or #sydneymakeupartists. Be specific when we can.
Tip 6: Use online hashtag generators
Online automated hashtag generators are a great resource to find hashtags relevant to your business. These generators allow you to search for a broader hashtag e.g. #cafe and will then give you similar, more specific hashtags to use. Make sure you pick the most relevant hashtags from your list and include any standout hashtags in your hashtag bundles moving forward.
Fun fact: The most popular hashtag on Instagram is #love, with over 2 billion posts.
Finding a job in Sydney with no experience can be challenging task, because your experience is one of the main things employers look at when hiring. Yet regardless of your experience levels – even if they none or minimal – by properly presenting the skills you do have to a potential employer, and maximising on work experience opportunities available, scoring a job in Sydney on limited to no experience is still absolutely possible. Here’s how to do it.
Volunteer where you can
Volunteering proves to employers that you are dedicated to your chosen field – so much so that you are willing to give up your valuable time to improve your skills, broaden your knowledge and dive into the work itself. It’s estimated that approximately 3.6 million Australians volunteer for a non-for-profit or community organisation, equating to countless hours given back to the community. If you’re lacking experience, volunteering is an outstanding path to travel, and one that can help you make connections within your industry, seek practical advice from people employed in your desired field, and demonstrates to employers your ability to work cooperatively with others and seek new challenges. It is a credible way of adding real work experience to your resume.
Structure your resume to emphasise the skills you do have
So, you don’t have the experience that the job role seeks. Don’t let that stop you! When sending through your resume to a potential employer or creating a profile on a job site, make sure you structure your CV in a way that promotes what skills you do have. Capitalise on any qualifications you have, and also any secondary skills or experience in related fields that might be of benefit to the role – and there’s more than you might think! Relevant industry experience is anything that closely resembles the skills required to complete a job; in simpler terms, it is a credible example of you displaying the skills of the job itself. Be sure to highlight what soft skills you have – think of transferrable skills like time management, communication and teamwork to name a couple. While experience can be gained, these interpersonal skills are less easy to suddenly develop, and are often crucial in maintaining a proper workplace culture.
Look into the NSW Government’s work experience opportunities
To gain valuable experience in your chosen career path, consider looking into the NSW Government’s work experience opportunities available. Presented via career type, employment-seekers in Sydney can visit the New South Wales working and business website, and filter through the verified proposed opportunities available – from Department of Defence opportunities, through to Fire and Rescue work experience, or even experience at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This hub of information is valid, reliable, and state government-verified to help you add that all-important experience to your resume. The National Work Experience Programme is also another excellent opportunity and option to consider when seeking quality work experience. The program places participants in real-life, unpaid work experience placements, allowing jobseekers to demonstrate their skills to future employees, while gaining confidence and refining their skills. Something worth considering, and also a great initiative to pitch to potential employers, who can enjoy subsidies and benefits for participation.
Finding a job in Sydney – or anywhere for that matter – is achievable. By being proactive; volunteering where you can, emphasising your existing and secondary skills in related fields, and considering taking part in state and national work experience opportunities and programs, you’ll be in an excellent position to snap up the job you have always wanted, and be left in the mind of employers for future opportunities.
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