Four lessons I’ll take from furlough

Six months ago, I was sat in my make-shift office/living room and getting used to the idea of working from home, when I got a call from my manager.

“… it’s not what we’d like to do Dan, but we’re going to have to put you on furlough.”

It’s an odd feeling – putting down the phone and staring at your computer wondering what to do next. Unfortunately, it’s a conversation and a feeling I’m sure many have experienced.

If you’re still off work or you were let go, it can be difficult to be positive about your situation. However, I’m a firm believer that every experience can teach you something, so here are my four lessons I’ll be taking from my five months on furlough.

Keep connected

Relationships are a large part of my work life and personal life. As a recruiter our job is to make relationships and as a human being I know I can’t survive without community.

  • If you’re on furlough, keep connected with your colleagues. Whether it’s a video call with the team every Monday morning or a quick chat with your manager now and then, it’s important to keep in the loop.
  • If you’re out of work, keep connected with your industry. Keep an eye on job sites, call up previous employers and talk to people you know in the industry. You never know when you may stumble across your next role, every conversation is a potential open door.

Most importantly, no matter your situation, keep connected with the people that support you. Whether it’s friends or family, pick up the phone or drop by their house (within the current covid-19 guidelines of course!). We all need support and encouragement and in a socially distant society it’s easy to become disconnected.

Keep a routine

We all know the feeling when your alarm goes off in the early hours and you have to try and muster the energy to throw the covers off. But I envied the days of the 6am ‘bleep’ whilst on furlough, it meant I had a reason to get up, somewhere to go and something to do.
Habits and routines provide a structure so we can face and even enjoy the unexpected.

  • Wake up as if you were working and exercise regularly. Perhaps go for a walk or start a new sport. A healthy sleep and exercise routine is key to good mental health.
  • Make the most of your time. Plan your days, even if it’s planning the smallest of tasks or arranging to see friends. Create a structure that helps drive you through the week. This will make the transition of returning to work much easier.

Exercising, sleeping well and planning your days aren’t exactly revolutionary new techniques. But it’s easy to let the simple things slip when we’re faced with uncertainty. Keep up the healthy habits.

Keep your head up

Unless you’ve been granted the powers; none of us can see the future! My 5 months were full of occasions where I couldn’t see beyond my current situation and it was easy for worry and doubt to creep in. But now I’m back in the office, it feels like I’ve not been off. All things pass and it’s important to keep perspective.

  • Be grateful and find enjoyment in the time you have now. When this moment’s gone, you may wish you’d made the most of the opportunities it granted you.
  • How can you use this time to improve your skill set? Why not be proactive and take a course to brush up on your knowledge.

Recessions, pandemics and unemployment – all have come and gone. It’s important we appreciate and take advantage of our current situation but also keep looking ahead to what’s to come.

Keep having fun

As an avid musician, the greatest joy of my 5 months on furlough was the opportunity to dive headfirst into my favourite hobby. Amongst the unsettling news updates and constant change, it can be easy to forget to just have fun.

  • Find a healthy balance of work and rest. If you’re applying for jobs, treat it like a workday and remember to switch off properly in the evenings and weekends.
  • Do something new and exciting! When was the last time your diary was this open? Make the most of it, learn a new skill or take up a new sport.

It’s easy to feel guilty for having fun when you’re not in work but remember to keep doing the things that you enjoy. We all need to have fun.

As someone who’s experienced both furlough and unemployment over the last few years, trust me – this won’t last forever. Keep connected to people, keep a routine, keep thinking positively about your future and remember to keep having fun.

I wish you all the best as you navigate through this period. And if you work in an industry we recruit for and you’re not sure what to do next, why not give us a call? You never know where a conversation can lead.

All the best,


(Recruitment Consultant – Facilities Management and Building Services Engineering)