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Home vs office working - A post covid perspective from an apprentice
Being a school leaver, that first moment of stepping into the full-time working world was very intimidating. Like many of my peers who entered the workforce during the same time period, I experienced uncertainty on the possible communication barriers I could face during and between lockdowns, particularly the ability to meet my peers in person with wider working from home practices still the norm. It made me question how I might settle in, whether it would affect my development and how I would build relationships with my new colleagues – the people with whom I’d be spending the next five years of my apprenticeship!
Fortunately, lockdown restrictions were eased, and my team were quickly back in the office when I started. Looking back, it has made me realise how influential being in the office has been on my development as an employee, student, and individual. The first thing on my mind when I joined was settling in and becoming comfortable with my peers. It was a reality check moving from sixth form to work, no longer being the big fish in a small pond. It felt like someone had pressed a restart button. In reality, this really wasn’t the case! I was very surprised as to how quickly I settled in, and a big part of that was just seeing faces, meeting new people, and engaging with different personalities. It made me realise what the culture of Allsop is all about. As everyone is different and we are all unique individuals, it made it easier for me to feel comfortable. I’m not just an apprentice, I’m also a colleague and a peer too. It was also highly beneficial being in the office with other apprentices, building relationships with similar individuals whom I can see becoming lifelong friends. Reflecting on settling in, I noticed I was welcomed with open arms when people across the firm came over and introduced themselves, especially having previous apprentices and grads taking me in and letting me know that they are there to help, whether it’s with work, university, or anything else for that matter. To put it into perspective, I think the most beneficial thing for an apprentice is just to have the exposure to meeting different people, joining conversations, seeing new faces, and generally understanding the culture of the business they are joining.
Had it not been for working in the office daily, I wouldn’t have the relationships with the apprentices, grads, and even partners that I have today. Having worked from home occasionally, it feels like a barrier to progress for individuals like me at the beginning of a steep learning curve. There is a definite disconnect in communication having to work from Teams calls, without the opportunity to constantly ask questions and absorb the knowledge of colleagues working around me.
Especially as an apprentice, you seem to find yourself working on multiple projects with different people in the team, and so automatically the communication is harder, productivity is affected, and you feel isolated working from home. Above all I think it takes away from getting into a routine and that separation of work mode and rest mode. However, now that I have gained experience within the team, if I am asked to work from home, I do feel a sense of trust in me and I no longer worry that I’ll hesitate to work independently or need greater support. I think there is a perfect balance with being expected to come into the office, but also knowing that Allsop is flexible if I ever need to work remotely.
My conclusion as an apprentice working from the office is that it is more than just getting your work done, it’s about building relationships, having conversations, and developing the skills learned from your peers. I think having people who can support you in your day-to-day role really makes a difference to understanding what it’s like to be a full-time worker, giving you a greater opportunity to embed yourself within the culture of the firm.
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