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Jack Mitchell explores how to navigate office life for the first time

Posted on Fri 12th Jul, 2019 in: Advice by Katie Wadsworth

Entering the world of work can be a daunting experience, especially when, like me, it’s your first time in an office.

With the unemployment rate for graduates six months after leaving university falling to 5.1% last year, according to Prospects (the lowest rate since 1979), more graduates are making the swift, but sometimes scary, transition into the world of work. Despite how academically successful a graduate might be, they are often taught little about managing the ‘work-life’ balance. It is no wonder that many graduates feel overwhelmed when beginning their first job after university.

Over the past week I have had the opportunity to do a week’s worth of work experience at Aberfield, and though I am no expert on how to manage the work-life balance, I have learnt a few helpful tips for managing office life in the PR and communications industry.


#1 Start on what matters

When working in a PR Agency you will be asked to ensure multiple tasks are completed. Due to the vast number of clients the organisation works with, you find yourself jumping back and forth between projects linked to different clients, so naturally can feel stressed. As Fast Company has observed, your willpower is strongest in the morning, so begin your day by working on the most significant task, in order make the most of your motivation.


#2 Focus on time management

It is easy to undermine the importance of time management, but it is crucial to prevent a stress overload. In the case of working at Aberfield, I found time management to be key when providing content for social media accounts. Some often needed daily online material, whereas others only needed weekly provision. I found that using a visual representation of what and when social media content was needed in the form of an Excel spreadsheet was an effective way of understanding my day-to-day workload.


#3 Avoid distractions

Or, to be precise, avoid the unnecessary use of your mobile phone. Like many of Generation Z, I find myself constantly scrolling on my smartphone and getting lost between apps. In the last decade there has been a 69% increase of smartphone usage, according to the BBC.

However, a smartphone can be handy in the PR world to gather relevant data. For one client, I found using a smartphone to search for influencers and bloggers on Instagram was a quick and efficient way of collecting data. That being said, if you’re known to get easily distracted on your phone, best to keep it out of arms reach.


#4 Don’t be afraid to ask

If you find yourself unsure of a task, or are completely clueless on where to start, swallow your pride and ask for help from anyone in the office. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed asking your new colleagues what to do. But you’ll quickly realise there’s no need to feel pressured to fit in or worry about being a burden, because by staying quiet you won’t get anything done. Thankfully the Aberfield team were really approachable and within the first 10 minutes of beginning my work experience I felt comfortable knowing what I had to do (and less stressed).


#5 Give yourself a break

Working an 8-hour shift can be draining when you’re not used to it, but taking breaks can help keep your brain refreshed throughout the day. Forbes builds on this, explaining that there is a correlation between an employees’ engagement and the benefits of having a break. Whether it’s taking 5-10 minutes to make a coffee, or an hour to have lunch, a break is crucial. Without it you’ll find your productivity levels becoming slow and sluggish, which is not what you want at work. At Aberfield, I noticed that everyone took a lunch break and finished at 5pm, no matter how great their workload may be, to ensure everyone maintains a healthy work-life balance.

I’m aware this is becomingly increasingly important for employers to ensure for their staff, but it was good to see first-hand that the business was making sure that employees weren’t over-working themselves, something which is easy to do in the PR world. 

To conclude this brief guide to avoiding burnout in the workplace, I should mention the enjoyment that working in an office can offer. While there may be some moments of feeling stressed and overwhelmed, there are so many rewarding times. Over the past week I have found enjoyment in working as part of a team, liaising with various clients on a range of diverse projects and learning so much about lots of different sectors. So, I suppose the last tip I can offer when entering the world of work, whether it be in an office or not, is just to make sure that you enjoy it.


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