Welcome to my first blog post! I guess I should start with a short introduction about my placement. I’m currently completing a 12-month Undergraduate Commercial Marketing placement at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). However due to COVID-19, my placement has been totally different to what I first imagined.
I received my placement offer with JLR at the end of January after attending an assessment centre. I was over the moon and accepted straight away, looking forward to my June start date. At this point in time coronavirus was merely ‘a virus in Wuhan’, and no one could have predicted the impact it would soon have.
When lockdown was first announced on Monday 23rd March, to be quite honest, my last thoughts were about my placement. With the daily evening news broadcasts detailing transmission and death figures, I felt there were more pressing matters at mind. I did receive updates from JLR between March-May where I was offered a provisional start date of September, depending on how restrictions were by then. Eventually in July I received confirmation that I could start in September. I felt extremely relieved and lucky, especially as many of my peers had been unfortunate enough to have their own placements cancelled.
Since starting in September, I have only ever been in the office once as part of my induction day. The rest I’ve been working from home. Having to adapt to remote working has been difficult. The first decision I had to make was ‘Where will my office be?’ As my mom had been (and still is) working from home, she had claimed the spare bedroom/office. The other alternative, the dining table, is located in the conservatory which at this time of year is at sub-Arctic levels. Therefore, I’ve had to convert my bedroom dressing table into an ‘office desk’.
My reality of working from home has been this – having a messy desk shared between my laptop, beauty, and skincare products.
Apart from re-arranging my bedroom to make space, another issue of remote working is actually implementing a strict balance between work and life. It’s incredibly easy to continue working way past your scheduled hours when you’re at home as there’s no cues of when to stop, compared to being in the office and seeing people leave for home. Additionally, when your home has been turned into a work environment, it’s difficult to be able to properly switch off and relax when your laptop is merely metres away from you. But I think the biggest drawback of all is having no physical interaction with my colleagues. It’s strange that I’ve only ever met most of my colleagues over Teams, and the lack of usual chit chat in the office can make you feel quite lonely, and certainly less connected. Especially when you’re new to a company, this feeling is far worse. Thankfully, we do have team catch ups and one-to-ones which allows us to check in properly with our colleagues.
Of course the benefits of not having to leave the house for work means I’ve saved time commuting to the office (meaning an extra hour in bed), and a ridiculous amount of petrol money. But the stereotypical trope of only having to dress waist-up is something I haven’t fallen for. I do get dressed everyday and not lounge around in my pyjamas, however easy it may be to do so.
Overall working from home has definitely been an experience. Even though there are benefits and drawbacks, I think it’s taught me how to adapt to an ever-changing climate. I would like to go back to the office soon which JLR are encouraging, albeit at drastically reduced capacity. But for the time being, and under a second lockdown, that future seems more distant than ever.
Written by Chloe