Protecting yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic can help keep you, and those around you, healthy. The best thing you can do is to stay home, leaving only when you need to shop for basic necessities, exercise, tend to medical needs or if you are required to travel for work. While home, you may consider downloading the NHS COVID-19 app, where you'll find a number of useful tools, including: Contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-ins.
Of course, many people must continue working while striving to maintain both their physical and mental health. Whether you’re searching for a job, seeking gig work or working from home amid surging coronavirus cases and new lockdowns, this article offers actionable steps you can take to position yourself for success during this unpredictable and challenging period.
Staying productive during COVID-19
Depending on your situation, there are a number of steps you can take to be proactive when it comes to supporting yourself and your loved ones and being content at work. Here are tips by circumstance:
If you’re currently searching for a job…
In January 2020, the UK basked in a record-high employment rate: 76.3%. Just a few months in, COVID-19 forced businesses to halt hiring and close, and by the end of the year the country’s unemployment rate increased to 4.9% (and rising).
Searching for a new job amid such chaos can feel confusing and challenging. In addition to supercharged competition for roles, both you and the companies you apply to will have to figure out if you’re a good match – especially if remote working is a key part of the role. So, if you are job hunting, remember to:
- Keep applying. If you’ve not heard back from an employer, don’t wait. Keep up momentum by applying to various jobs that match your skills, experience and qualifications. Companies, while they may want to get new hires on board pronto, will have a long list of applicants to consider. Set a daily application goal, then smash it. Remember, if the worst-case scenario is too many interview or job offers, you’re doing something right.
- Re-evaluate regularly. To focus your search, review your CV, cover letter and the jobs you’re applying to every week. Applying for several roles is good, but a one-size-fits-all method rarely works. Ask: are the jobs you’re applying to a good fit for your skills, background and experience? Is your CV attractive to employers based on their job ad? Does your cover letter expand on your qualities and the specific role? If the answer is no to any, devote some time to finessing your approach.
- Tailor your CV and cover letter. Make a point of updating your CV and cover letter for each job application. Really, every one. Review the job posting, add the relevant keywords to your CV (assuming you do have the skills, of course), then speak to exactly what they’re looking for in your cover letter.
Boost your income. While job hunting, be sure to consider part-time, remote or gig work until an offer emerges. Doing so keeps your skills sharp and provides extra pay. It might also stop you accepting a job out of sheer desperation.
If you need gig work fast…
In times like these, the gig economy could be the ideal way to build experience and get paid quickly. Here are several steps you can take to find temporary roles, fast.
- Do your research. Reach out to your network and search online for gig opportunities – you never know what freelance roles are in-demand during a crisis.
- Focus your search. You’ll find the most relevant roles on Indeed by using terms specific to your industry (e.g. “mover,” “driver,” “food delivery.”) Find the best fit by filtering by salary, experience level or job type.
- Consider other positions. You may be able to apply your skills to other jobs you haven’t yet considered. For example, roadies seem to face unemployment until further notice. Yet someone with the skills to set up and pack down equipment quickly would be a great asset to a removals firm. And the beauty of such a gig is that it’s only temporary, by nature. So, when the live music scene kickstarts again, they can resume their career.
- Register on gig apps. From rideshare driving and food or grocery delivery through to dog walking for people forced to self-isolate, today’s already-successful gig apps could be actual lifesavers during a COVID-19 lockdown. The best part? You can usually sign up to as many as you like, then choose the gigs and hours that suit you.
Supplement with remote work. If you’re finding it hard to get gig work, consider looking for remote or online work, too. There are options available for people with little or no experience, such as data entry or transcribing audio files. Remember, contracting coronavirus means self-isolating, yet unlike most jobs, remote roles mean you can carry on earning provided you’re well enough to work.
Read more: How to Get a Gig Job
If your company has asked you to work from home...
Sounds easy (it’s working, only…from home?), but homeworking can be a gruelling transition for many. Here are some ways to make the most of working remotely:
- Think about what you need. First, ask your employer if they’ll provide specific software or office equipment. Make a list of items you may need – from obvious (laptop, charger) to seemingly insignificant (pens, notebooks). There’s plenty of stuff you shouldn’t front the cost of, though many workplaces won’t think to supply, unless asked.
- Find a quiet space. If you haven’t worked at home before, you’ll soon learn a big factor for productivity is a quiet space, free from distraction. Find a place away from family, TV and other noise, and ask your loved ones to respect this space as your office. That being said, set clear boundaries to avoid overworking – such as shutting down your computer at a fixed time, or setting your work phone to airplane mode once you’ve clocked off for the day.
- Be patient. Replacing the office with a non-social home-working environment is a big adjustment. So give it time. And be aware you may become lonely. Schedule video calls with friends and family, and take advantage of your opportunity to exercise outside – alone or with members of your household – once a day. This alone will help lift your mood, and may also up your productivity.