If your employee has taken advantage of the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and chosen to put you on furlough, you’re most likely feeling a little disillusioned and a bit aimless. It’s undoubtedly a tough time, compounded by a general overriding sense of anxiety about covid-19 and the economy. Being bored doesn’t help.

As you’ll know, the main resource available to you now is time. After all, there is only so much Netflix one person can watch. Why not dedicate some of your time on furlough to learning and development?

We’ve listed some of our self-development tips below – maybe you want to continue with a learning and development plan you had developed with your employer, or try something completely new. Either way, hopefully these ideas will help keep you occupied with tasks that will teach you new things and in some cases improve your CV.

The tips are tailored slightly towards tech and digital people, as that is RedCat Digital’s area of expertise, but they can apply to anyone. Keeping your mental health in good condition during this time is one of the most important challenges you face, and alongside all the other benefits, this will help do that.

Work specific tips

  • Learn a new programming language. It’s well-established that developers love to learn new programming languages, and there are countless benefits. It makes you more employable, can make you better at your existing job and is likely to help you move into more senior or project management positions.
  • Learn more about your industry. If you’ve spent a while working for one employer, or perhaps are relatively new to your industry, it can be easy to become blinkered. Take some time to learn more about your industry. Who are the big players? What are the economic issues which affect it? what challenges does it face? With this knowledge, you’re likely to go back to your job as a better employee. Industry magazines and LinkedIn can help with this.
  • Learn about management and people skills. Working in tech and digital, it’s likely you work in a highly collaborative team. There are some well-known methods of working and management in the technology industry. Read up on these, or read guides to good management that you could use or suggest to your manager.
  • Get your CV, portfolio and LinkedIn in great shape. On the furlough scheme, you’re not allowed to do work for your company, so be careful about exactly who you contact. But this could be a good time to get your online presence sorted for whenever you go for that next career move.

Broader learning

  • Learn a language.  Learning another language is one of the most useful self-development tips. And for many, is a lifelong passion. Technology and digital workers are a notoriously international bunch, and it may even help you find a new job in another part of the world one day. It’s also good for your brain.
  • Read more – on everything and anything. Whether fiction or nonfiction, now is a good time to get reading more, . Many of us have read online that we should be trying to educate ourselves about the issues and discrimination that many of our black colleagues face, so you could also take the time now to do that.

self-development tips

  • Work on personal projects. These could be things like writing, making a YouTube channel, creating a website or even DIY. These types of projects all require lots of soft transferable skills like organisation and adaptability and are at the very least a useful nugget you could mention at an interview. They may even become your next great passion.
  • Sport and fitness. Obviously team sports are not really possible at the moment, but working on fitness is definitely an option. Whether it’s running in the local park, doing HIIT sessions in your garden or getting on the bike. Keeping active is good for the brain and mental health and it may even be something to bond over with an interviewer or new colleagues.
  • Do something for charity. Again, the in-person choices for this are a bit limited, but there are still ways to get involved online or over the phone. Many local communities have also bonded together to help their vulnerable populations, which may be something you can help with. You could spend the time researching causes you care about and plan how to volunteer with them once lockdown lifts.

One important thing to remember: don’t stress about it too much. There’s been plenty of people who’ve said furlough should be a time to develop a side hustle. But those people have also faced a backlash. Now is a difficult enough time as it is, so don’t worry too much if all you can do is keep going.

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