Returning to Work from Furlough? Here’s What to Expect

Returning to Work from Furlough? Here’s What to Expect

CharityJob | 14 July 2020

As some employees who have been furloughed over the last few months have started returning to work, Stephanie Dotto from CharityJob takes a look at what they should expect when returning to such a changing environment.

We’re living in a state of limbo. Charities are struggling to get the funding they need to keep running, which means many have been forced to furlough staff and bring on larger number of volunteers to adjust to the financial strain. But with lockdown measures being eased and the furlough scheme slowly starting to phase out, more and more people are being asked to return to work.

If you fall into this category, you’re probably feeling both excited and anxious. And we don’t blame you! We’re all eager to fall back into a routine and get a taste of ‘the new normal’ but spending a few months off can mean it’s a bit harder to adjust to working life again.

Not sure what to expect? Here are a few things to keep in mind when coming back to work from an extended furlough period.

1. You may still be stuck at home

True, businesses like pubs and movie theatres are starting to open up again, but that doesn’t mean that life is going back to the way it was before lockdown. The government is still urging people to work from home where possible. So that means your role may be temporarily remote.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all roles in the charity sector, but fundraisers, in particular, don’t need to be out in the community to be affective. Things like calling donors and managing appeals can be done from home and are likely to be that way for at least a few more months.

If you’re sick of seeing the inside of your flat, consider the different ways you can incorporate outside time into your day. Go for a run in the morning or a walk in the evening while the weather is still nice and balmy. Or maybe wander down to a nearby park during your lunch break. Not only will this benefit your mental health, but it will help you set strict working hours so you don’t let your work life bleed into your personal time.

2. Fundraising has changed slightly to keep up with the current climate

It’s estimated that charities lost nearly £4.2 billion in funding in the first 12 weeks of the pandemic. That’s because we were no longer able to hold events. We were disconnected from our donors and desperate to shake things up.

But what we learned was that digital is a powerful tool. Events that had previously been in person could be adapted and done remotely. Take, for example, the 2.6 Challenge. Organised in response to the cancelled London Marathon, the 2.6 Challenge was an umbrella campaign aimed at raising money for UK charities. Participants came up with creative challenges shaped around the number 2.6, and asked people to pledge a donation on their behalf. So far, it’s raised over £11 million pounds. And though that still falls short of the £66 million raised by the London Marathon, it’s just a small part of a wider series of campaigns issued online to bolster support for the UK charity sector.

When you return to work, not only will you get to see all the creative ways your fundraising colleagues have dealt with this issue, but you’ll be encouraged to get a bit creative yourself! Just think about all the amazing campaigns you can do with your online donor base.

3. Many charities are changing how they operate… for good

One of the biggest things to consider right now is the concept of disruption. The pandemic was a disruption that forced us to look at the way we operate and make split decisions on how to adapt when the world was in a state of flux. But the truth of the of the matter was that this sort of disruption was a long time coming. We’ve been trapped in the pattern of behaviour often dictated by the adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But just because something worked for thirty years, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it.

This experience allowed us to be introspective and communicate more closely with our volunteers and donors to find out new and better ways to get them involved. And for many charities, that meant discovering flaws and changing their fundraising strategy to address a shifting world.

So, you’re likely to be stepping back into a different way of working. And though it may be scary, is also tremendously exciting. Remember, you’re not doing this alone. Lean on your colleagues when you need it. Reach out to the wider charity community to find others going through the same experience as you. CharityConnect is a great place for this—find out what conversations are being discussed around furlough and the changing charity landscape. It will help you get in the right headspace for your first day back.

Eager to brush up on some of your digital fundraising skills? Take a look at the courses available.

Stephanie Dotto is Content and SEO Lead at CharityJob.

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