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Company updates, professional news

Carry on Reading…

With bookshops now starting to reopen, we hope that this is going to be a much needed boost for us all. With evidence showing that reading books has surged in lockdown we are all hoping that this trend will continue and now that people are able to visit bookshops, translate into further increased sales.

According to Nielsen Book’s research, 41% of people said they were reading more books during this period and many have almost doubled the hours they have spent reading per week. There have been stories from parents that have been delighted to see their teenage children grow back in love with reading. Hopefully this trend will continue and those that have found a new love of books will keep on benefitting.

For those of us that are struggling to read during these unsettling times, it is worth persevering. Try reading something lighter than you would usually choose if you are finding it harder to concentrate. It is well documented that reading can have many health benefits including reducing stress levels, lowering our blood pressure and helping combat depression. It can also improve our memory and empathy and generally make us feel more positive. This is in addition to the more obvious benefits of increasing our knowledge and challenging our imagination. In these current times the opportunity to have a ready form of entertainment with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in escapism seems even more welcome and valuable.

So whether you are finding that you read more or less during lockdown – the message is clear – support your well-being and our industry by carrying on reading!

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How Leaders Can Give Hope and Inspiration, Even in These Uncertain Times

Leading in uncertain times…

Many people will be looking to leaders, for some hope and inspiration, to get them through these uncertain times ahead.

According to Gallop, what people primarily need in their leader, is a clear path forward.  If we have this, then as human beings we are amazingly resilient, known as the ‘rally effect’.  During extraordinary times like this pandemic, it becomes even more important for leaders to clearly communicate this path and then to inspire confidence in their workforce to get through this difficult period by working as a team. You do not need to be overly optimistic or unrealistic, but you do need to give hope and encouragement.

In times of panic, it is easy to micromanage. To show trust, give your staff more autonomy rather than less and encourage them to see the bigger picture. By showing faith in them, it will allow them to help you come up with the best solutions.  When times are tough, people are afraid of losing their jobs. This fear often prevents them from freely making suggestions and observations that might lead to improved outcomes, as they don’t want to rock the boat.  If you want to motivate your employees and get the best out of them, you need to make them feel safe rather than fearful.  It is crucial that leaders don’t show panic, as employees often model their behaviour, particularly in times of crisis.  It does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers – it just means that they need to provide hope that things will eventually improve and give practical suggestions on steps to take on the path to recovery.

None of us know how long this situation is going to last or what the long term effects will be but knowing that the leadership has a clear plan of action and that they care about their employee’s health and well-being, will go a long way towards them feeling confident and secure.  They need to know that their contributions are valued and integral to the future success of the business.  If we can learn and adapt together, there is a much greater chance of coming through this testing time, both stronger and more resilient.

In the meantime, do not forget to celebrate the wins, however small and praise your team for things they are doing well.  Positivity breeds positivity, even in times of crisis.

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What will life look like back in the office?

Returning to the workplace…

Recent government announcements suggest that anyone unable to work from home, should now where possible, start to return to their workplaces.  This is straight-forward advice for industries that cannot work from home but what about those of us that have a choice?  How can we decide the right time to do this and the best way to do this?  The most important thing is to start planning now, in order to do this safely and most effectively, when the time is right.

The last couple of months has turned everything we did and thought on its head, including our attitudes to home working. Working from home is no longer seen as just an employee benefit for the minority, instead it has and will continue to be a core part of business planning. We have now learnt that it is possible for many of us to work from home and whilst there are undoubtedly some negatives, there are lots of obvious positives that many people will be keen to continue benefitting from.  The future challenge for businesses will be how much they can and should continue to offer flexibility, once it is not forced upon them and what the trade-offs will be in doing so.

According to a survey by job board Totaljobs 49% of people are looking forward to returning to work so managing how we introduce our staff back into the office and arriving at solutions that are safe and sustainable is the immediate challenge.  Most experts think that this ‘management phase’ of the covid-19 crisis, is likely to last well into next year, so getting it right is crucial.  In order to decide who to bring back first, you will need to think about what roles you absolutely need to have in the office and plan accordingly.  For example facilities and IT may be among the first to bring back so that they can help plan and implement the rest. Technology infrastructure will play a key part as it will need to continue to support some level of home working for those that cannot come back into the office. The more agile and flexible your systems are, the more you will be able to react to future disruptions ie if we get a large second peak of infections.  It will also enable you to offer flexible working as a long-term benefit. 

The CIPD have published a guide to returning to the workplace and they encourage all businesses to ensure that they meet three keys tests before bringing people back into the office:

  • Is it essential?
  • Is it sufficiently safe?
  • Is it mutually agreed?

The guide includes lots of practical advice on areas such as risk management and the importance of communicating the new rules and procedures. It also has lots of information on how the government’s new extended, more flexible furlough scheme can help. There are links to other useful information including the government guidance for working safely in offices.

What is clear, is that in order to keep to the government’s social distancing guidelines, most of us will not be able to go back into our offices exactly as we left them.  Unless we are able to take extra space, we will need to reduce the number of employees at work at any one time.  This could be done in a variety of ways, from shift patterns to rotational days or weeks, but ultimately will probably require some mixture of home and office working.

Managing all these additional challenges, as well as trying to keep business going will require all of us to work together. Clear communication and thorough planning will be vital. Showing that you are putting the health and well-being of your employees at the heart of all the decisions so that they feel supported and valued will be even more important in these challenging uncertain times.

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Don’t be Afraid of Remote Recruiting

Some people are understandably nervous of recruiting under the current constraints of social distancing, but this could be the perfect time for you to test ‘remote recruiting’.  Many people think that remote working could be the new norm, so how do those without experience of this adjust and make it work when recruiting new staff?

It is not necessary to put all recruitment on hold until everyone is back in the office – it is possible to recruit remotely – many companies have done this on a regular basis before it became a reality for us all.  Whether you want to consider this as just an interim measure or a more permanent solution, making this work will not only help you to keep your business moving in the current climate but may also be used as an attractive option for the future.  Being able to offer a mixture of remote and office based employment will not only present cost savings but also make you more attractive to future employees. 

Whilst many of us may be used to some form of remote interviewing, taking this one step further to ‘on-board’ new staff remotely may seem daunting and more of a challenge.  We all know how important the first days and weeks of new employment are, both for the candidate and the client, so it is extremely important to get this right, whether in an office or a remote location.  It is obviously important to make sure that your remote employee has the right equipment and technology and that you think about how your existing processes can be adapted to work in a remote setting. With the wide range of video and communication options that are available it is easy to have face to face regular contact wherever your staff are based and getting regular feedback from your new employee will ensure that you arrive at solutions that work for you both.  Our recent blog Remote induction of a new member of staff during the lockdown gives some useful tips on things you will need to consider.  REC business partner Howden has created a hub of resources to help employers manage employee wellbeing and includes a very useful 13 page guide to welcoming new team members remotely (towards the bottom half of the page) on On-boarding in a virtual world.

Many of our clients now recruiting remotely, with no previous experience of this, are finding that starting new employees on a part-time basis has helped them.  This has allowed them to adjust in a more manageable way.

The current situation has proved conclusively that flexibility in working patterns can work and that you don’t physically have to be in the same space to make decisions and work as a team. The enforced lockdown that arrived without warning has meant we have all needed to adapt and live and work in different ways.  There may be many negatives that we have all experienced from this but hopefully there will also be some positives that will help us all continue to build robust businesses that can thrive wherever we are based.

Further reading:

Here’s a quote from a candidate we placed recently:

Guardian article: The new rules of remote recruiting

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Use your time positively to upskill yourself online

Now may be the perfect time to upskill yourself. With millions of us forced to stay at home, it is a great time to take advantage of access to numerous free online courses and information. This will not only add to your future employability but also give you a focus, particularly if you are currently not employed or furloughed.

The department of education has launched a fantastic set of resources The Skills Toolkit.

This offers free digital and numeracy courses at various levels and covers topics such as the fundamentals of digital marketing and the effective use of social media.  With 82% of jobs requiring digital skills, increasing your knowledge in these areas is always going to be useful. It is also a great way to add to your CV and gives the opportunity to link what you have learnt to a required competence in a job vacancy.  You can use these resources as a simple introduction to various topics or move onto more advanced concepts within the courses to really master skills, such as learning to write your own computer programs.

Job descriptions often ask for a good level of Microsoft Office, particularly Excel (check out v lookups and pivot tables), practice some Powerpoint and InDesign basics too.

One particular skill that many of us are having to grapple more with is how to optimize productivity whilst working remotely.  LinkedIn is offering hours of content on various aspects of working from home, to help you or your teams  

Up tech also have plenty of advice on how you can leverage productivity tools to support remote working

You could also consider using your time to teach others new skills. This will not only make you feel more positive and empowered but hopefully help the person you are teaching to feel this too.

Don’t forget you can also practice your more creative skills so write a diary or blog, try cooking some new dishes, learn a language – these will also be good content for your CV.

Good luck!

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Staying sane during the lockdown

Continuing with our theme to share ideas and tips for working and living through these strange times, we thought we’d suggest some ideas on keeping your mind fresh whilst staying at home.

Continuing with our theme to share ideas and tips for working and living through these strange times, we thought we’d suggest some ideas on keeping your mind fresh whilst staying at home.

From Clare Chan:

If you are working from home, why not create a standing workstation?

For the past weeks, I have been working at my desk sitting down.  I increasingly felt a need to break this habit to sharpen my mind so I decided to work standing.  If you don’t have a tall table? Try using books or perhaps a small stool. Working standing up keeps my mind sharp and active. I am also able to concentrate on my work much better so why not give it a go!

Find a new exercise

Very frankly, I am not the best cyclist. Living in London for quite a few years now, I have never cycled on the road.  This weekend, I jumped on a Santander bike as my once a day exercise. It was terrifying at first, but by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone makes you feel much more refreshed and stimulated, especially we are now spending a lot of time at home and might get a bit too comfortable at times.

Take a virtual museum tour

Miss travelling around the world and going to museums? Google Art & Culture has everything you need to keep yourself entertained.  It has virtual tours from the Pyramids to Anne Frank’s Family Home.  They also have over 3,400 museums and galleries around the world to bring anyone and everyone virtual tours of some of the most famous museums around the world.  Still bored? They have an Art Selfie function where you can see who you look like in the world of paintings!

From Claire Law:

It can feel like the weeks are starting to blur a bit now and it’s important to make sure we look after our mental health as well our physical. I’m much better at making myself do exercise, partly so I can eat and drink what I want but also as I (usually) enjoy it! It’s harder to remember to make an effort to look after our minds so here are some of my ideas:

Keep a diary / log of things that made you happy each day

I have a beautiful little book I try to fill in (admittedly I don’t do it every day) with at least a couple of things that made me smile that day.

Make time for some gentle meditation

There are lots of free apps out there you can use to help you relax / sleep / stay calm. We don’t want to recommend any particular one (I use Headspace but there are lots of other ones, try this search for a selection:

Have a routine

Even if you’re not working right now, it’s a good idea to have a routine in place so you get up, get dressed and find time to do a mixture of things. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at a normal time. If you are working then make sure you take proper breaks and try to leave your workspace behind while eating.

Make time each day to communicate with friends and family, maybe keep in touch with at least 1 friend each day, by phone, email or post.

Please share some of your ideas with us!

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How to nail your video interview!

In recent years, telephone and video interviews have become increasingly common and in the challenging times we now live in, they are now a necessity. If it is your first time doing a video interview or you are worried you will not perform to the best of your abilities on screen, fear not! Here are some key tips for you to nail your video interview!

Prepare the equipment

We can never say it enough, preparation is key! In this case, it is not only preparing to answer the interviewer’s questions, but getting your equipment ready:

  • Familiarise yourself with the software used by the interviewer: whether it is Zoom, Teams, Google Hangout or Skype, make sure you know how it works
  • Test your equipment beforehand: are the video and sound both working (or do you know how to turn them on!)?
  • Check that your broadband speed is high enough
  • Do a test call with a friend or family member (or your recruiter!)

Dress smartly and tidy up your surroundings

This is an interview, so do approach it as you would a face-to-face meeting. If you don’t have a home-office/desk, prepare your surroundings to make sure they look professional:

  • Opt for a neutral background and make sure the lighting is suitable – not too bright or dim
  • Sit up straight, ideally at a desk/table (not slouching on the couch!) 
  • Test out your webcam in advance and get an image including most of your top half. This will allow interviewers to see any hand gestures and overall body language.
  • Dress professionally from head to toe (in case you have to stand up during the interview)

Try to eliminate possible interruptions

  • Unplug / turn off the ring on your landline and mobile
  • Close any doors and windows and make sure you won’t be interrupted by anyone else living with you
  • Put a note on the door (and front door) to say no interruptions, in a meeting

Prepare for the interview itself

  • As you would do for any other interview, do some extensive research on the company before your interview
  • Read the job description thoroughly and have some questions ready
  • Make a list of your achievements/examples to show the interviewers that you are the right person for the role
  • Have a copy of your CV and cover letter handy so you can refer to it during your interview
  • Make sure you have the email address and telephone number of your interviewer in case you need to reach them by another mean

During the interview

  • Do keep a glass of water next to you if you need a sip/take a pause during the interview
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewers or talk over them: this is true in a face-to-face meeting but even more so in a video interview where communication is slightly more tricky
  • Take your time: it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts
  • Have a notepad and a pen next to you in case you need to write down a question or take some notes
  • Answer the questions with strong examples but keep succinct, go to the point
  • Look at the camera, not yourself: this will give an appearance of eye contact – otherwise you’ll appear to be looking down
  • Try to relax and smile!

Technical problems

Things do sometimes go wrong, it happens, but do not panic!

  • Try to remain calm and calling again
  • If the problem can’t be fixed, suggest using a phone to speak while still using the camera or try a phone call instead
  • If you cannot hear/see the panel properly, do mention it straight away to the interviewers
  • Use this to show the panel that you can remain calm under pressure J

We hope this helps! If you have any more questions, do contact us on Twitter @AtwoodTate or by phone 0203 574 4420 /email

You can find more advice about interviews on our website: interview preparation tips, how to impress at your interview and competency based interviews!

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Remote induction of a new member of staff during the lockdown?

Here are some tips on what to consider when inducting new staff now we’re all working remotely due to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid19). It’s vital to get new employees up to speed as quickly as possible so they can start to feel comfortable and confident in their new role. The main points of doing a remote induction will involve:

  1. Introducing employees to their new job and their main responsibilities
  2. What is expected of them and how their work will be assessed
  3. How they will carry out their duties and who/how they will be supported to do it

In advance of the 1st day ensure you have communicated regularly with your future employee to reassure them that their job is safe and inform them on how the remote induction is going to work. Make sure you have shared contact info so you can set up a Zoom/Skype/etc video call on the 1st day.

Things to include

  • Logistics for home working
    It’s a good idea to have a Work from home Policy or Checklist. This will ensure employees can work in a safe environment. Allow enough time to send any equipment (computer, phone, etc.)
  • Company history and Organisation structure
    Give an overview of the company history including strategy, culture and vision. Outline the structure and give the names of key people in the company.
  • Job role 
    Give a copy of the Job Description and Person Specification so it’s really clear what they will be doing. Explain how they fit into the department, any probation period and monitoring. The remote induction might imply doing more of certain duties whilst they are waiting to be trained in person on other tasks. Make sure the employee understands it is temporary.
  • Equipment / training
    Explain any new equipment / software to be used and outline how training can be done eg using a company intranet / online learning modules. Create a 3 or 6 month plan for them to follow.
  • Introducing them to colleagues / key staff
    Organise a group video call over lunch to introduce them to colleagues and people they’ll be working directly with.
    Assign them a work buddy they can liaise with to show them the ropes.
  • Company terms and benefits
    Give a copy of the employment contract and outline basics eg core hours, holiday allowance, pension, life assurance, pay dates, share company policies etc and any benefits eg gym memberships, social activities etc.

What not to do

  • Try not to overload on day 1 (or week 1)
  • Pitch the information you’re sharing at the right level for the role the person has been taken on to do
  • Make sure they get plenty of opportunity to ask questions and keep in regular contact

Revisit daily in the 1st week and have regular follow up meetings to ensure questions are answered clearly.

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Home Working Tips

Some of you may be used to working from home already but it’s very likely that the current situation will mean many more of us will be doing this from now on for some weeks.

If you’re used to working with a team in an office, working on your own at home can be a culture shock. It’s important to keep communicating with your colleagues and manager to ensure you feel engaged and motivated. Here are a few ideas and tips to help…

Checklist for companies / managers

  • Think about what equipment, software, access and logins your team may need to do their work remotely
  • Do a quick check on laptops, chargers, headsets, webcams etc to make sure they’re in working order before giving out
  • Ask your team to share their home/mobile contact numbers and circulate this list
  • Check your office can forward calls to another number and ideally turn the function off outside of work hours. Can people log in to check voicemails if left?
  • If people don’t have an unlimited phone package agree to cover expenses for usage
  • Keep a record of important stakeholder / supplier contacts and share with your team
  • Get everyone to access / download a video conference app like Zoom so you can have video meetings with each other and customers
  • Decide on an instant messenger eg Skype / LinkedIn etc so your team can communicate amongst themselves without clogging up emails
  • Agree guidelines on checking in to confirm you’re well and able to work that day / when plan on taking lunch / arrange cover for time off

For when working you’re at home

  • You’ll want to be as effective as possible, so make sure you have a clear workspace with suitable work surface and chair
  • Think about structuring your day – you might be able to start and finish earlier if not commuting
  • Try not to get distracted with household chores, factor in some break times and if possible take a proper break outside at lunchtime and get some fresh air, go for a walk etc
  • Communicate with your team on your movements and any successes / useful tips that have worked well for you
  • At the end of the day, make your to-do list for tomorrow and pack up the desk so you have clear free time separate from your working day  

Some useful links: What are your rights if working from home?

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Atwood Tate Update

We are all aware of the Coronavirus and how it is impacting us all on a global level. As a company, we are taking measures to ensure that we can continue running as usual under these difficult circumstances. We are fully cloud based, so our team now has the option to work from home and you will be able to contact us on our usual phone numbers and by email during normal working hours. We are holding meetings and candidate registrations by Skype or Zoom if not able to meet in person.

We are staying vigilant and keeping up-to-date with advice from the government, Public Health England (PHE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and will be following all advice given.

We are confident that any further developments will have little effect on our day to day operations, including; Accepting new recruitment briefs (temporary, contract and permanent); Shortlisting and registering candidates; Organising interviews (potentially virtual); Managing offers; Payroll processing; General compliance.

We will do our best to keep all our stakeholders, including contractors and clients up to date with the latest government guidance in terms of recruitment and to support any queries you may have.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards

Claire Law, Managing Director

Useful links:

NHS: website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice 

ACAS has released guidance for employers –  ACAS Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees that you can refer to.

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