10 Jan How To Support Apprentices Working From Home
Tips on how to support apprentices working from home
Working from home is not unusual nowadays, but for a new apprentice starting out in their first proper job it can be far less than ideal. For a start, there is not that opportunity to watch and learn from other people, as well making it harder to feel part of a team. Many can find it isolating and lonely, even if they do enjoy a bit of a lie-in. Finally, with many apprentices being in their late teens and early twenties, it is quite likely they will have family around which can be distracting when it comes to focusing on their work.
So, how can you as an employer, or training provider, support apprentices working from home? Here are some of our tips for doing so…
1. Lines of Communication
Young people (and indeed, all of us) generally learn by osmosis. Simply being around a team and manager will enable them to pick up how things are done, often without it explicitly having to be said. They listen to others on the phone, hear them chat with colleagues about issues, and notice how someone deals with a problem. All this is very hard to do if you are working in your bedroom at home.
One way to support apprentices working from home is to have a regular catch-up where you explain what you have been doing, and why. Take them through your day, what came up, and what issues were dealt with. Then, what could have been avoided and what might now need doing as a result. It doesn’t always have to be you. Your team can take it in turns to share this with them too. It will fill in the knowledge they won’t be getting in the office, and it will also help them bond with the team.
2. Check on their set-up
In the early days of Covid, I was faced with an apprentice who was working from home with his laptop balanced on the washing basket. Even then, I could just about see him from the eyes up. This was obviously not ideal. While most of us have probably worked out the practicalities of home working by now, this may still be fairly new to many young people. Do check they have somewhere they can work, and that their back is supported etc. In short, all the health and safety things we take for granted in the office.
3. Set them up a with a buddy
The buddy system is nothing new. I remember being assigned a work buddy back in the early 2000s. However, it’s often forgotten: set up and never followed up on. A buddy can offer a lot of support and solidarity to an apprentice feeling isolated and out of the loop. It is definitely worth creating a buddy system for any new recruit.
4. Let them ask questions
Some young people are fine asking questions. However, often, they don’t want to bother you or show their ignorance. Having to email or phone someone, especially if it’s not urgent, can feel daunting. Nevertheless, creating an environment where an apprentice or graduate feels that they are free and welcome to ask as many questions as they want, will really help them progress. One of my apprentices created his own Yammer channel called Ben asks, where he asks for everything from historical information about the company and its clients, to where to get the best coffee. It often stimulates interesting chats, especially as he is able to share his own opinions too.
5. Let them share their progress
I always suggest that apprentices do regular presentations to the rest of the team on what they are doing. In some businesses, they can be the only apprentice and other members of the team just don’t understand what they are working on. They also may not get why the apprentice isn’t at their beck and call every working hour.
Apprentices who do regular presentations will hone their speaking skills, raise their profile in the office, and get valuable feedback on their work. They can sometimes even train others in what they are learning! I remember one PR company owner laughing that her apprentice was going to be the most qualified and up to date member of her team, and that is not unusual.
We can help you create your own bussy system or offer support and training to any of your own young people who are working from home. Please contact us to discuss.