Wondering what it's been like to have been on furlough and then return to work? Our own Florentina Oyelami reflects on what she's learnt during that time.


Like many, this year has thrown me for a total loop.

When we first went into lockdown, I was prepared for a 3-6 week stint of working from home and thought at most I’d get to enjoy the extra time I’d get back from not having to commute into Central London every day. Little did I know that just when I was getting into the swing of things I’d be furloughed and have so much extra time on my hands! Along with almost a quarter of Britain, I was furloughed at the start of April and spent the following 3-and-a-bit months with plenty of time to spare but nowhere to go.

My 15 weeks of furlough came to an end at the beginning of July, and now that I’ve been back in the office (a small desk set up in the corner of my room) part-time for 4 weeks, I thought I’d round up the 5 key things I’ve learned and will be taking away from this whole experience.

Things I’ve Learned Whilst on Furlough

I need some form of routine
The novelty of not having set responsibilities and tasks for my days wore off just after a week into my furlough. Over the last three months, I’ve come to realise that I am a creature of habit. I’m not a strict planner where I have my actions planned to the minute, but keeping a daily routine kept me from climbing the walls.

Hobbies are important
Hobbies are great for reducing stress and eliminating boredom, which has been crucial during this year. Having some 40 hours of extra time a week, I had the opportunity to explore who I am and what enjoy when work is removed. I realised that I can actually bake and enjoy experimenting with recipes; I learned how to build my own website, launched a personal blog and took up the art of candle-making.

It’s OK to do nothing sometimes
Living and working in London for years has put me on a hamster wheel of productivity. If there’s a day where I’m not busy and don’t have a to-do list it can feel like I’m not doing something right. During my furlough, I learned the art of slow living and the importance of switching off every once in a while.

Things I’ve Brought Back to Work

The maths behind winning at negotiating
As soon as I found out that I would be furloughed I googled online courses that I could take so that I’d return work upskilled. I took Harvard Business School’s online course in April and May and then went on to take Yale’s Introduction to Negotiation. As a recruiter in a relatively new market, there have been many times that I’ve found myself desperate for clients to work with me. Learning game theory as an approach to negotiating and influencing helped me reposition myself when approaching clients, leading to a new role to work on in my first week back!

The importance of planning and setting goals
As I mentioned earlier, I'm a sucker for routine. During my furlough, I got into the habit of planning my days and weeks and setting goals (big and small) to continue to feel like I was achieving something. Under the flexible furlough scheme, I'm back to work 3 days a week which doesn't feel like very much, now that my time at work is limited structuring my day is more important than ever. As the market is tough, setting daily goals has been a way to stay on track and a motivator for those harder days.

So, there you have it, 5 things I've learned in the last few months. It’s certainly been a time of adjusting, from getting used to a slower pace to getting back into the swing of things.

What have been the biggest learning curves during your furlough or lockdown?


About the author



Florentina Oyelami

Associate Consultant, Hydrogen Group