You’ve been furloughed, so now what? 5 tips for staying productive and positive

5 min

There is no denying that Coronavirus has had a significant impact on economies globally. At the beginning of the year, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the global economy would grow by 3.3%, they have now replaced this figure with an expected contraction of 3%.

Governments globally have had to review policies and introduce measures to try to protect businesses. The UK government launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) on the 20th March. This scheme promises to cover 80% of furloughed employee wages for a limited period (this was a three-month period but has recently been extended to four). This week applications for the CJRS opened and over 140,000 firms claimed wages in day one, for workers who have been put on temporary leave as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of this scheme, it is estimated that up to 9 million UK employees could be furloughed. Many businesses have temporarily closed, and of the ones that have remained open the average percentage of employees that have been furloughed is around 21%. Meaning that up to a third of UK employees might be out of work and unable to contribute anything to the companies that employed them just weeks ago.

Furloughed employees who were continuously on the go from the daily commute, back to back meetings, working lunches and stressful deadlines may start feeling like they are living through Groundhog Day but with nothing to fill their time. If you are one of these employees, daily routine is highly important for staying productive, removing anxiety about uncertainty, and remaining positive about your career.

Here are our five tips for staying productive and positive:

1. Exercise:

Seems obvious but ensuring that you have daily exercise will instantly boost your positivity as it will increase the number of endorphins your body releases which will increase energy levels. Exercising has also been proven to improve brain health and memory, which is why it’s the perfect way to start off the day.


2. Increase your knowledge:

Try not to be tempted by the lure of endless boxsets (unless it is an educational documentary). It is highly unlikely that you will have another opportunity in your career, where you will have as much free time available to you as you do on furlough. Use this opportunity to upskill and use this time to expand your knowledge and increase your value as an employee.

Your employer might be able to provide you with guidance to assist you with your learning (bear in mind that your training cannot make money or provide services for your employer as outlined in government guidelines). There are many online learning providers that can assist you on upskilling such as:

LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn learning offers personalised learning experiences, which are taught by real-world professionals and covers all areas of the business world from effectively leading digital transformation to managing in difficult times. LinkedIn learning also has a free 30-day trial.

Reed Courses: Reed has partnered with several training providers and offers 41 free self-paced courses on bookkeeping and management/leadership.

Google Digital Garage: If you are looking for more digitally focussed learning (Data, Tech and Marketing) then Google has a number of free courses. They also have over 50 courses for career development, covering everything from inspiring leadership through emotional intelligence to public speaking.


3. Learn a new practical skill:

Increasing your knowledge shouldn’t just be limited to academic skills, your days will become very repetitive if you are continuously studying from 9 till 5. Build some new practical skills into your daily routine. If there’s something that you have always wanted to learn but haven’t had time, then use this time.


4. Limit how much news/media you consume:

You might have previously been used to waking up with a morning coffee and checking the headlines, but while being in isolation and furloughed this can have a negative effect and increase anxiety. Try and restrict how much media you consume.


5. Do something positive!

Just because you are furloughed it doesn’t mean that you can’t do something positive, 750,000 people volunteered to assist the NHS at the end of March and although this hiring has been paused it doesn’t mean that you can’t do something positive in your local community (if you are not in a high risk group and not showing any COVID-19 symptoms). Look out for your neighbours, friends and family. Offer to help with shopping and other errands, you can find out more about how you can safely help on the government website.

If you are a furloughed employee, remain structured and try to keep a positive mindset. It’s important to remember that your business hasn’t made you redundant, they are taking measures to protect your company so that you will still have a job to go back to when the restrictions are lifted.

Stay positive and stay safe.