IWD 2021, the women of Highfield talk career advice

International Women’s day is prominent for many people all over the world as it continues leading the pursuit of equality and celebrating the achievements of women everywhere. The battle to be seen and heard varies for women and it’s important that no matter who we are, we all help to call out inequality. This is why the theme for the day this year is #ChooseToChallenge in order to encourage everyone to challenge gender bias and lead to changes. ‘A challenged world is an alert world’ and we are each responsible to create an environment where equality is the norm. This begins with ensuring negative actions and behaviours are not overlooked, but are brought into the spotlight to be challenged and in turn work out a better and fairer solution. 

With many people willing to learn, it is easier to bring more awareness to inequality and help to further understand its consequences. Often, it may not be a deliberate attempt to create a gender gap, and so choosing to challenge these moments allows for it to be noticed and action taken. This provides a chance for equal opportunities to be presented to women, particularly in the workplace. We asked the women here at Highfield if they could share the best career advice they’ve received or learnt through their own experiences.  

“So, there are two things for me; 1. This was written on a little piece of paper and placed on my desk by a strong HR woman that I really respected whilst I was working in a large people business. It said “Tough times don’t last, tough people do” – aka get more resilient and know your self-worth. Whatever career path or choice you take – emotional resilience needs to be worked on and it’s an ongoing learning journey! Second is something I feel I have learnt along the way….; Having passion for what you do will never make work feel like work and it doesn’t matter what you do if you like the people you work with, the people matter.”

Kay Fadden, Performance and People Manager 

“My personal experience has been that out of mistakes and failures I have made throughout my career I have drawn on those experiences in future moments and turned failure in to success. The best lessons are learnt when we get it wrong.”

Zoe Lane, Manager 

“I’ve always told myself it’s all about mind set – believing you can achieve through dedication and hard work, as well as being lifelong learner. Never assume you are the cleverest person in the room.”

Zoe Towlson, Digital Marketing Executive 

“I think the main one is to embrace (and almost seek) failure, because you won’t always do everything right the first time, but embracing that notion means that you don’t fear trying new things. Everything is a learning process and we grow from our experiences – both the good ones and the bad ones – and those experiences are what ultimately make you better at your job. The quicker you figure out how not to do something, the quicker you find out how to do it perfectly. I think the saying goes “Fail early. Fail often. Fail forward.” 

Natasha, People Recruitment & Training Consultant 

• Keep pushing even when times are tough. 

• Never give up, tomorrows always a better day. 

• Stay true to your word, have the confidence to be who you are. 

Lizzie Stein, Recruitment Consultant  

“I would say that through my own experience I have learned that you can only do your best. Your work and career is effected by so many external factors that you cannot control everything. Work hard and to the best of your ability and you will be rewarded.”

Kirsty Lockyear, Principal Resourcing Consultant 

“Share knowledge. We all learn different things with different experiences and teaching can only help someone. I am forever asking questions from the people around me because it’s guaranteed that they know more than me about something, and on some days I will be the one teaching others. We’re not fighting against each other, we’re growing our knowledge, understanding, and support for one another. “

Hannah Kelly, Content Apprentice 

With positions ranging from management to apprentice, there is a wide collection of experience within the team, and each member brings their own set of unique skills and talent to the industry. 

Finding women in leadership roles can be a challenge, particularly for male dominated industries, but the representation is slowly improving. Since 2011, the proportion of women in senior management roles across the globe has increased by almost 10% and the aim is to see that continue rising. With support and action from everyone, there will no longer be a fight for equal opportunities for women, but instead the chance to provide our own skills and qualities to management positions. 

To see what you can get involved in today’s International Women’s day, head over to their website https://www.internationalwomensday.com/  

Specialist Video Interviewing vs Zoom

One of the most common objections when pitching Specialist Video Interviewing Software is… “yeah okay sounds cool, but surely you can just use Zoom?”. Zoom is brilliant video conferencing software and we know since we’ve all been sent to work from home it’s been great for still keeping client, candidate, and internal meetings going ahead as planned. But that’s what it is, video conferencing, not specialist video interviewing. 

What’s the difference? Both are two-way, you can conduct a first stage interview remotely no problem? Technically yes, but other than you get to see what the candidate looks like to better judge a fit, there’s not much difference to having a meeting on Zoom as there is having it on the telephone. Adding specialist video interviewing software to your hiring process benefits both you and the candidates and increases final interview to hire ratio to over 70%.

People have been using specialist video interviewing software for years, it’s not a new thing, but due to the current circumstances and everyone’s determination to continue business as usual, I suppose you could say it’s having its “moment”. We don’t know how long we’re going to be out of the offices but we do know that with video interviewing we can continue to hire and keep business and usual. 

Going from being in the office to being sat at home with a make-shift kitchen desk seemed to happen in a flash. And we understand when decisions and plans have to be made quickly to keep business continuity they are often not as researched and debated as they normally would be. Take us to today, we’re a few months in, we’re in a routine, we’re seeing people are still hiring, if we do the same we’ll be minimising the possible damage when we get out of this. We can see what’s working, what will keep working, and what needs to be temporary. Now that we’re settled down and we’re more aware this may go on longer than we’ve all hoped, we’ve got the time to fix the quickly made contingency plans. 

So, let us explain the value specialist video interviewing software can bring to you over just using video conferencing software. After all, you wouldn’t use “Houseparty” to conduct an interview, would you?

For starters, specialist video interviewing software allows you to host either a live interview which can be recorded to watch back or a solo one-way interview, where the candidate answers predetermined questions in their own time to submit for review. Both forms of interview differ to telephone or zoom interviews in that you don’t have to just take the consultant’s word for it that they are a match for the role, you can watch for yourself. 

That’s where the shortlisting feature comes in, we just send you one link and all the videos of  candidates we think are a match are there. Just one link and they’re all there in one place, no need for multiple messy emails with attachments here, there and everywhere. We can also attach the candidates CV, documents and any notes in with their video! 

You save heaps of time because if you don’t think they are a good fit for the role within the first 5 minutes of the interview you can either turn it off or skip to the questions you think are more important to make your decision. If the first stage interview was conducted on zoom, and therefore not recorded, you wouldn’t know until the candidate sat in front of you (either live virtually or face-to-face) that they weren’t right but you would have to conduct the whole second stage interview anyway.

When we were all sent to work from home some people will have adapted easily but it’s fair to say that others will have struggled, and there’s no shame in that. If you’ve never had to WFH before and you’re not a Facetime or Skype type person, then it must have been scary to all of sudden have no choice but to learn, all while being a little apprehensive about the situation in general. Our specialist video interviewing software has embedded training videos to metaphorically hold your hand while you’re getting set up (social distancing and all that). So don’t be worried if you’re uncertain about the terms, “live interview”, “solo interview” or “shortlists” because there’s easy to understand instructional videos and demos to watch in your own time. And there’s a UK based support and development team who are there to help you or your candidates should any issues arise. 

In summary, yes you can use Zoom to interview candidates remotely while in these unprecedented times. But, there is value to gain from specialist video interviewing software now and beyond the current situation. So why fix the leak with a bit of tape when you could implement some new shiny pipes now?

We can keep you moving

On average, a talent pipeline takes 2-4 months to mature. This means we run the risk of turning a 3-month problem into a 12+ month problem if we take drastic measures and press stop. But we can’t simply carry on as normal either. We must find a way to slow down your process enough to cope with the change, whilst maintaining momentum with candidates to support your hiring plans for the remainder of the year.

Video Technology

We’ve invested in the in the latest Video Software, designed specifically for the interview process. This technology, which is the most streamlined available on the market, allows us to provide recorded live interviews between our recruiters and candidates. We can also now involve your hiring managers in the process too. These interviews can then be shared with any decision makers in your business, without the need for diary co-ordination.

We’ve chosen a specialist provider that allows interviews to take place on laptop, tablet and mobile devices in low bandwidth situations, giving us access to even the most remote candidates. The tech requires no downloads, registrations, logins or passwords, ensuring candidates with any level of technical ability can take part.

We simply send a link, which they click once, and they’re ready to go.

We also have the ability to record one-way interviews of candidates. This means that you can give us written questions that display one at a time to the interviewee, allowing them to record the answers to the questions on their own and submit the video back to you.

From there, we can present the videos back to you in an interactive shortlist page which gives you full visibility of everyone in the process. These pages have commenting functions for each candidate shortlisted, as well as a document viewer that can hold up to five supporting attachments, such as a CV and cover letter. All of which means you retain complete control throughout, even during this time of unforeseen disruption.

By slowing the process down, but keeping the pipeline of talent moving, we can support you to maintain your position in the market – ready to pick up where you left off in a few months when it’s back to business as usual.

If you’re not being asked to video interview? You really should be asking “why not?”

Unfortunately in the current climate there’s been a lot of redundancies, which in turn has resulted in many people looking for new jobs. This comes with more competition and a need for candidates to stand out – luckily we can help you with this.  

How businesses reacted to Covid-19 tells you a lot about them. Did they adapt, or not? Are they forward-thinking and innovative, or did they run and hide? The same way of thinking applies afterwards. Are they in the new normal or are they going straight back to their old-fashioned and out-dated ways? Do you think they are equipped to find you a new job or career? 

If you’re looking for a new role and you’re not being asked to video interview by recruiters then you really should be asking, “why not?” Even when we’re allowed to see each other face-to-face again.  

Why is our new video interviewing software a huge benefit to our candidates? Well, let me explain…

Interview from anywhere

Since March we’ve had quizzes, yoga sessions, cocktail making, cooking classes, playdates, actual dates, and even murder mystery nights all over video software! If we can keep our business and social lives going from our own homes then why should the hiring process be any different? Spoiler, it’s not!

There is now no need for face-to-face, which means you can interview from literally anywhere. Whether you’ve gone home to isolate at parents’ houses or are planning on moving somewhere new post-lockdown, video interviewing means there’s no need to travel at all for at least your first stage interview. Since lockdown, more and more companies conducted remote on-boarding, it’s not completely unimaginable that you would never have to do a face-to-face interview ever again. 

Any device

Not everyone has a laptop, but that’s no problem you can use your phone or table to complete the video interview. Top Tip – test the process! The day before, it is paramount to test the video on the platform and device you are using. You can do this with a friend or family member and video call them so you can become more confident. Make sure your sound and microphone are working, as well as your camera and get your friend/family member to run through some interview questions. 

One interview, several opportunities & feedback

With loads of people being made redundant, it means there are hundreds of candidates’ CVs landing on our clients’ desks. And because some jobs are advertised by more than one recruitment agency, as well as the client themselves. Your CV can end up showing up on the hiring manager’s desk more than once. This doesn’t exactly look creditable for you, but we can work with you exclusively to not only ensure this doesn’t happen, but increase your chances of breaking through the noise. We can conduct your first stage interview on video then take it, with the supporting documents, to our clients. We either get you an interview or we get you valuable feedback. This WILL put you ahead of the competition on the market quicker than you waiting to hear if your CV ever made it to the top of that pile. 

Skip the first stage interview

If you’re successful when we send it to our top clients then you’ve already skipped straight to the second stage, possibly the final stage of the hiring process. It also means you don’t have to take a day off for an interview that you might have been unknowingly ruled out of in the first five minutes – the client has already seen your first stage and knows you’re a good fit for the role. 

So, the same as we’ll question anyone who doesn’t cover their mouth when they sneeze post-lockdown (seriously why were people not already doing this?), we should also question anyone who insists they meet you face-to-face for interviews.  

Our Mental First Aid Champion, Simon answers your questions

World Mental Health Day 2020 is one of the most important ones yet – the months of lockdown and loss has had a huge impact on all of us. Which is why prioritising mental health has never been more important than now. We have put together a Q&A session with our Mental First Aid Champion Simon who answers the relevant questions that may be on your mind.  

Do you think the current crisis has highlighted a global need to focus on mental health?  

I think pre-pandemic that the world had started making the right move in highlighting the importance of mental health and understood that more support was needed.  

The pandemic has definitely highlighted a global need to focus on mental health but at the same time a lot more people will now be suffering due to a number of factors such as  

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones 
  • Your financial situation or job 
  • Loss of support services you rely on 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We recognise the impact this pandemic can have on people’s mental health and NHS mental health services have adapted to continue to provide support to those who need it throughout the pandemic. 

“We are providing £9.2m in additional funding to national and local mental health charities to support adults and children affected by the pandemic, and we are committed to increasing the mental health workforce. 

“Mental health services will expand further and faster thanks to a minimum £2.3bn of extra investment a year by 2023/24 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.” 

What do you do to maintain positive wellbeing?  

I’m actually writing this whilst in self isolation so haven’t been able to leave the house. A lot of people will be in the same situation especially with the new track and tract system in place.  

I think the best things that you can do are trying to keep active and fit, I know it’s hard when you can’t leave your house! I have been doing yoga from free YouTube videos, you could also try an online HIIT Class if you don’t have any gym equipment at home. 

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. 

I’d also recommend trying to stick to your normal routine and going to bed as you normally would and waking up as normal. 

Drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fruit & vegetables will also help you feel good. 

Meditation has also been great as focusing on your breathing can help get you in to a calm state. I recommend using a meditation app or just searching for mediation channels on YouTube. 

What advice would you givto someone struggling with their mental wellbeing?  

Talking about your feelings and asking for help is the first step, find a family and friends member that you can trust and start by just saying how you are feeling.  

A lot of places of work will also now have mental health first aiders who are trained to deal with these situations and will always be private and confidential so this would also be a good start. 

There are a number of online communities or anonymous helplines which you can contactwhich I will leave details of below. 

What ‘one thing’ will you be doing today in aid of World Mental Health Day?https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/world-mental-health-day-2020/ 

I would recommend downloading the Mind.org mental health calendar which is packed with actions you can take for better mental health.  


Select the link below to get support from the A-Z of mental health charities 


Making a positive change can be hard, especially in uncertain times. Most of the time, the hardest part is to know where to start. Take the opportunity this week to learn and find out more about how you can start with your one thing.  

5 Simple ways to look after your mental wellbeing at home

Working from home can bring with it a number of challenges, whether it being in-home distractions or lack of social engagement.

So, what can you do to look after your wellbeing when working from home? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal lives, stay mentally and physically healthy whilst still being a productive and effective worker?


It is very easy to slip into bad habits such as sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food. But, looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Exercising is known for significantly boosting your mental health – you can do this at home or under government regulations you are allowed to go outside to exercise once a day.  


The first thing you need to do is get into a routine – which requires discipline. Do the same things, in the same order every day. Creating your own rhythm for the day, you’ll find that the day is more sustainable, bearable and enjoyable. A great way to start your day is with some exercise, whether that be a walk or jog. It releases great endorphins that will carry you throughout the day. In the day time, you could do some learning either in something your already specialize in or learning something new. Keep busy, don’t slouch around. Get up in the morning, get dressed, have a plan. With the world of the internet, you can be doing so many activities to fill your day. Additionally, make the weekends different – you have to differentiate your time.

Don’t stay glued to the news

If the media coverage is overwhelming and heightening your anxiety, it may be useful to allocate set times throughout the day to catch up on news and updates. Too much time on social media, googling things and excessive exposure to media coverage may increase your anxiety. This is an unsettling time for us, therefore it’s important to remember the facts and only listen to or follow reliable news sources.

Use trustworthy sources – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information from the news, social media or other people.

Take time out

One of the most important points is being kind to yourself. If you don’t feel up to doing anything – that is fine too. It is important to recognise when you need a break. Relaxing and focusing on positive things, knowing that every effort is being made globally to bring this situation to a close, but it will take time.

When taking time out it can help with difficult emotions and worries, and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help deal with feelings of anxiety.

Get a good amount of sleep

The amount of sleep and the quality of our sleep plays a big role in the way we feel, so it’s important to get enough. Remain in your normal sleeping pattern, and if you are finding it harder than usual to sleep try some the Calm App as they have great sleep series.

We understand it can be difficult working from home, however if you make sure that you are prioritizing your physical and mental wellbeing you can enable yourself to carry on being a productive employee.

Transforming Your Data Centre Business to Remotely Run

Even though data centre centre staff are deemed as ‘critical workers’ – footfall traffic at the sites has been scaled down massively. As it stands, most facilities have enough tools and ‘remote hands’ services in place to allow their customers to manage and monitor their infrastructure remotely.

Being Prepared

In response to the pandemic, we have found that organizations have fallen into three camps; those who can quickly adapt and who are geared up for remote working; those who feel unprepared for the change; and, of course, many who simply can’t comply, including care workers, hospital staff and those that work in providing crucial data infrastructure, such as data centres.

Nevertheless, whatever camp they fall into, it is essential and necessary to remain productive and profitable, even when staff are not physically in the building.

Staff Meetings Go Virtual

Chief Revenue Officer from a North Carolina-based colocation provider, Patrick Doherty says that all staff that are non-essential are now working from home. For meetings, they are using video conferences, as well as one-on-ones to make sure employees feel connected.

However, for sales staff it has been more challenging, as they would normally visit potential customers along with data centre tours. Although, Doherty quotes that they have adapted and instead, created virtual video tours. Current and potential customers can see inside, at the same level of detail as they would during a physical walk through. Despite the crisis, he says, there is still a demand for tours.

Remote Data Centre Management Tools

For colocation providers, experts say they are generally in good shape – this is because the providers previously had systems in place for remote monitoring and teach support requests. To meet customer needs, they are using online data centre infrastructure management customer portals for remote monitoring and IT support according to a report by Uptime Institute.

Promotion of colocation’s remote-hand services – these cover IT equipment moves and additions, changes and maintenance, troubleshooting of power, IT, router, firewall, and shipping and receiving on customers.


On March 23rd Equinix closed its data centres in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Following the COVID-19 protection measures, they have said that all visitors, customers, customer contractors and non-critical Equinix vendors will not be permitted to enter the IBX facilities.

The decision to restrict data centre access was said to be “made in accordance with our business continuity plans to minimize the risk of impact within our data centres while maximizing our ability to operate and maintain our services on behalf of our customers”.

Additionally, Equinix have stated that “In the event a complete lockdown is required, Equinix is prepared to maintain the necessary on-site staffing levels required to support continuous operations”. Measures have been taken whereby no more than five people per party are welcomed – everything visitors touch are frequently swabbed with various destroying liquids.

The company’s optimum goal is to make sure facilities do not become infected and their employees are healthy.

Complete Remote Automation

Andrew Bishop CEO of Nuco Technologies runs automated data centres in the UK that can be remotely controlled right down to the door locks. Amidst the coronavirus, he is keen to promote the benefits of this type of operation. 

One of the company’s Tier 4 data centres in Milton Keynes is completely remotely run, with staff operators using an IP phone accessible from the main switchboard. Any customers that need to visit their racks are carefully tracked, he says “We can just activate a fob and they can access the data centre. Our systems track them through the centre and when they leave, we expire it.

For the few staff that are working within the facility, they have to implement a new cleaning regime, for example, if someone accesses the data centre, the workers will then have to clean all of the door handles and surfaces to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Scalability Boosts Cloud Platforms

As the crisis has placed a premium on speed and scalability (according to 451 Research), for some requirement, cloud platforms will become more attractive. As a result of the virus, we can expect some web applications to dramatically increase with traffic, while others might dwindle to near nothing. For this changing demand, scalable cloud applications should be able to grow shrink dependant on the demand. For those who are in the suffering from lower hits, the scale down can save them cash. However, for those experiencing surge, the cloud lets websites continue to perform under pressure.

The COVID-19 crisis will eventually subside, though, it’s impact will be with the industry for some time. Sami Badri, senior equity analyst at credit Suisse says “virtual connectivity is a must. It’s no longer a debate. It’s now a case of survival, relevance and productivity. You’re starting to see permanent shifts”.

Future Workforce

Existing experiences have shown us that those who were early adaptors of virtual run businesses, or encourage remote working, are the ones reaping the benefits. Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed people’s attitudes and behaviours. The Data centre strategy, will after this, become even more critical in ensuring the infrastructure is powerful, safe and reliable for people to work wherever they want, whenever they want. 

What’s Next?

The industry is trying to work out new ways in dealing with the pandemic as lockdown is not sustainable for the industry. Whilst data centres such as 4D Data Centres have 85% of their staff working from home. There are only few going in to keep the data centres open and to make sure all the facilities are kept running – but it’s really the bare minimum.

Many data centre operators have confirmed that remote working methods will continue even when the crisis has passed. Customers have been stopped from making any visits to their computer systems in their data centre unless urgent. 

Allan Bosley, information managers at Ark Data Centres, said ‘We are still understanding the impact”. He goes on to say “It would be very difficult to make decisions about the medium and longer terms.’

How to manage your (newly) remote team


In response to COVID-19, many companies, universities and schools have asked their employees to work remotely. Whilst, only 30% of the UK were working from home in 2019, 2020 has dramatically increased this due to the pandemic. As companies find themselves navigating through this time, we have come up with some great ways to ensure that engagement and productivity is high whilst working remotely.

Challenges of remote working

First, it is good to understand the challenges that employees face when remotely working. As a manager you need to understand the factors that can make remote working especially demanding. These include:

Lack of face-to-face supervision

This can be a challenge for both managers and employees. Supervisors worry that employees may not work as hard or as efficiently. Employees, on the other hand, struggle with a reduce in access to managerial support and communication.

Social Isolation

One of the biggest difficulties in working from home is people can suffer with loneliness. Anyone can miss the informal social interaction of an office setting. It can also make employees feel less ‘belonging’ to their organization, which is why it is important to make sure you keep them social through phone calls and video chats.

Distractions at home

We all know there can be numerous distractions at home. We encourage employers to ensure that their employees have a dedicated workspace allowing them to work remotely. However, even in normal circumstances, family and home demands can impinge on remote work; as a manger you should expect these distractions to be greater during this unplanned work-from-home transition.

How managers can support remote employees

As much challenge remote working brings, there are also quick and inexpensive things that managers can do to ease the transition. They are as follows:

Establish structured daily check-ins

In order to make sure your team is running successfully, establish a daily call with your remote employees. This could either be in the form of one-to-ones calls, or a team call. It is of high importance that these calls are regular and that they are a forum in which employees know they can consult with you, and that any concerns or questions can be answered.

Instead of just asking ‘How are you doing?’ you may want to ask questions that dig deeper and give your team more space to answer you honestly about how they are really doing. Try some of these one-on-one meeting questions:

  • What are you currently doing to sustain yourself? Have you been able to take time for yourself, in any way? How can I support you in that? Is there anything we can be doing to support each other?
  • How is your level of energy these days? Do you feel drained or worn thin in more ways than usual?
  • What fears or trepidation do you have around the team and/or company, if any?
  • Are there any tasks or projects lately that feel more like a struggle than usual? Where is the weight coming from?

Providing different types of communication options

Remote workers benefit from having richer technology such as video conferencing, rather than just relying on email. This gives employees the opportunity for visual cues, that they would have if they were face-to-face. Video calling is particularly useful for complex or sensitive conversations as it feels more personal than written or audio-only communication.

Additionally, there are situations when it is needed of direct and quick communication. For this, platforms such as Slack & Microsoft Teams provide mobile-enabled individual messaging. This can be used for simpler, less formal conversations, as well as time-sensitive communication.

Give remote employees as much access to you as possible. When remote working, you can feel distant, so make sure you respond to them as quickly as possible.

Set clear expectations

Everyone has different ideas of what doing something ‘quickly’ or ‘well’ means. To make sure that employees are in line with your expectations, you need to either show examples of what you expect to be done and by what time. You can do this by calendar sharing etc. The more prepared they are, the better they can do their job.

Trust your team

Companies struggle with a remote workforce because they feel there’s an uncertainty about whether or not the work will get completed at the same level as if they were in the office. To combat this belief, make some WFH guidelines such as emails must be responded to within 24hrs. Use text for urgent matters and no calls between certain hours to make sure your employees are not working around the clock.

To avoid unintentionally hurting your team, take off some of that pressure and choose to trust your team. Trust – not tracking – engenders productivity.

Give opportunities for your team members to support each other

You can’t just rely on yourself to do all the supporting – instead, give opportunities for your team to support each other. Bonding together whilst everyone is socially distant is an important part of helping people cope with the transition to remote work.

For example, on a Friday, Highfield hold a Zoom video chat where everyone in the company can jump on and have a good catch up with each other.

Final Thoughts

We understand making sure that your newly remote workforce can be difficult. Hopefully, however, the above advice will act as a springboard for you to establish what works best for you and your teams.

If you have any questions or concerns about hiring in the current climate please contact your Highfield consultant.

Recruiters Guide to Furlough

What does furlough mean?

The term ‘furloughed worker’ is someone who remains employed but, are not undertaking work. The idea is that this is a temporary arrangement, so that workers will be able to return to their jobs once deemed safe.

The government’s most crucial goal was to avoid mass redundancies across the UK and instead encourage companies to put jobs on hold during the disruption. Therefore, they came up with the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention scheme’, otherwise known as furlough leave. This means that all UK employers, regardless of size, can claim a grant from HMRC to cover
80% of employee wages (up to £2,500 per month) who will not be working, but still kept on Payroll. It is back dated to the 1st March 2020 and is for 3 months, with the intent of extension if necessary.

To qualify for the scheme employees cannot continue to work for the employer.  As a result, you may have your access to work accounts and devices revoked. This is to prevent well-meaning employees from doing anything that could be classified as working.

See this as a opportunity

First – you’re fortunate enough to have future job security with your current employer, however, with much more unexpected free time – what now?

This is a great way to really utilize this time to finding ways to undertake some form of personal development. It is a great opportunity to study or attain some qualifications online – this can be recreational or professional. After doing a little bit of research, you will realise how many courses there are online to choose from – allowing you to build on an expertise and knowledge you already have. Or, try something new.

And so, whilst life in furlough may currently seem daunting, you can absolutely utilise this time effectively, invest in yourself and help to advance your individual long-term personal and career goals – all from the comfort of your own home!

Training platforms

Future Learn: A great platform is ‘Future Learn’, they provide you with high quality learning wherever you are, with online courses, programs and degrees created by leading universities, business schools and specialist organizations. Whether you want to develop as a professional or discover a new hobby, there is an online course for all.

Routine – lockdown living

The first thing you need to do is get into a routine – which requires discipline. Do the same things, in the same order every day. Creating your own rhythm for the day, you’ll find that the day is more sustainable, bearable and enjoyable. A great way to start your day is with some exercise, whether that be a walk or jog. It releases great endorphins that will carry you throughout the day. In the day time, you could do some learning either in something your already specialize in or learning something new. Keep busy, don’t slouch around. Get up in the morning, get dressed, have a plan. With the world of the internet, you can be doing so many activities to fill your day. Additionally, make the weekends different – you have to differentiate your time.

Make sure you are drawing the distinction between boredom and lethargy – boredom is when there is nothing to do, whereas lethargy is when there is things to do, but you can’t be bothered. Most people suffer with the latter… but they call it the former because it gets them off the hook.

Mental well-being

The threat of a virus is scary for us all, as well as people facing stressful life challenges. Lots of people have lost their jobs or have had their incomes cut. Social distancing and isolating means we cannot see our friends and family and many people are worried about their loved ones. This is of course, having an effect on everyone’s well-being. Here are a few ways to help with this:

First of all, positivity is key! Do not begin the day by rehearsing all that is out of your control. Instead, begin by remembering you’re alive and there are good things still. Taking each day at a time, and not over-whelming yourself. Begin with gratitude at the start of every day, and say out loud the things you are grateful for in your life.

Practise self-care – it is very easy to slip into bad habits such as sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food. But, looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Exercising, is known for significantly boosting your mental health – you can do this at home or under government regulations you are allowed to go outside to exercise once a day.  

One app that we highly recommend is the Calm App. It is free and has many programs that can help you with anything from sleeping to eating healthier. It has great meditation sessions and it so easy to use!

One of the most important points is being kind to yourself. If you don’t feel up to doing anything – that is fine too. It is important to recognise when you need a break. Relaxing and focusing on positive things, knowing that every effort is being made globally to bring this situation to a close, but it will take time.

A review of your performance at work

Here are five questions to help you define your career goals:

  1. Would I consider myself a leader of a follower?
  2. Am I delivering at work?
  3. Are the people around me helping me to move up in my career?
  4. Am I achieving a strong work-life balance?
  5. Do I love what I do?

Career development goals are important because it helps you to become more evaluative of your performance at work and how you can enhance it. Do you have areas of weakness you can improve on? If you can do a self-evaluation on this it can increase your billing at work as well as your all rounded performance.

How to organise Zoom calls and chat with other furloughed team mates

Whilst in isolation, it is paramount that you try and keep as social as you can. So why not host a video chat with other furloughed team mates? Zoom is a great platform to enable you to do this, here is some simple steps to host a group video chat.

  1. Download the Zoom App
  2. Open your Zoom app on your desktop and click sign in.
  3. Log in using the email and password that you have created, or Google (Gmail), Facebook, or login with SSO.
  4. Click the downward arrow and select start with video, then click new meeting to start an instant meeting.

Must Reads

As a recruitment consultant, you need to stay on top of the latest recruitment trends and practises. Whether that involves, preparing for recruiting millennials or changing talent acquisition and assessment practises to suit the most savvy candidates, the recruitment process is dynamic and in need of continuous learning.

We have put together some of the must-read recruitment books. Some of them are working on the mindset of recruiting, whilst others focus on the skills and art of recruiting. Whilst being on furlough, this is a great time to read a few books that can help you develop your skills as a recruiter for when you get back to work.

The Savage Truth – the controversial recruiter Greg Savage tells his story on his stellar career in recruitment and the lessons he learned in: leadership, business and life, over four decades.

Mindset – A book by Dweck, PH. D., discovered a ground-breaking idea of the power of the mindset. She shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts and almost every area of human endeavour can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

On Recruitment – by Mitch Sullivan. The book is a collection of some of the 150 blogs he’s written on recruitment covering areas of the industry such as culture, retained recruitment, assessment, employer branding, job advertising, candidate experience and even employee engagement.

Grit – This book is a MUST read for anyone striving to succeed. Psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, students and business people both seasoned and new that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called grit.

Give yourself some goals to hit

 Setting personal goals for yourself (even if you do not reach them) can enrich your life in a number of ways.

Firstly, it provides direction and destination – they give you something to aim for and direct your efforts to. They help guide you to a place where you ultimately want to be in life. It’s a great way to, instead of wonder through life, you can determine where you want to go.

Your goals give you a clear focus on what you believe is important in life. This means that when you set them, you need to really think about what is important to you personally and what you want to accomplish in life. This will focus your attention and truly reflect your hopes and dreams. If you do not set well thought out goals, you will find yourself spending time doing things that are not important to you.

By setting out these goals, this definitive perspective will help in your decision making process. If you know where you want to go – it will encourage you to make better decisions on how you want to proceed, as you have a clear picture as to what you want to accomplish.

Lastly, setting goals helps you take control of your future. Without goals in life, you will find that people drift aimlessly. If you do not have a plan for where your life is headed, you will just go with the flow. However, by having goals you have more control over where you are headed and what you have to do to get there.

Eat healthily, links to easy recipes

Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times like these. You want your immune system to be as strong as possible. Here are some links to for quick healthy recipes that you can enjoy at home.

BBC Good Food

81 Healthy Dinners

Jamie Oliver Recipes


Home workouts

Just because you are in isolation does not mean you can slack on exercise. If anything, this is a great opportunity to build upon your fitness. Exercise is also great for your mental well-being. We have picked out some of the best influencers that strive to inspire and motivate others do up their fitness in the comfort of their homes. Let’s take a look at a few.

  1. The Body Coach – Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks is all about healthy eating and exercising regularly to get into top shape. He is famous for his ‘Lean in 15’ workouts and cookbooks, which are quick and easy to follow and get you great results.

  • Kayla Itsines

Kayla is a personal trainer from Australia and a significant fitness influencer. She has a great app that you can download, where she shows you everything from 3 meals a day with recipes to workouts suited to your environment. She has a free 7 day trail starting now!

Volunteer for the NHS

Many NHS organisations and charities need you help in fighting the coronavirus. There are volunteer centres across the country, and many NHS trusts have volunteer managers you can contacts if you want to find out about volunteer opportunities.

For more information about volunteering in general and to find local opportunities you can visit or contact your local volunteer centre, or search via  https://do-it.org/. Alternatively, you can visit the NCVO (National Council for Voluntary organisations) web page ‘I want to volunteer’ for everything you need to know to get started or you can also search for

volunteering opportunities in your local area on the Volunteering Matters web pages.

List of TED talks and podcasts

The Secret To Becoming Mentally Strong

How To Stop Your Thoughts From Controlling Your Life

Recruiting Brainfood Podcast

The Social Recruiting Show

Recruitment On The Go  

The Recruitment Roller Coaster Podcast

Linkedinformed Podcast

Recruiting Future  

The Rag Podcast

TRN World

Can They Contain The Strain? The Data Centre & The Pandemic

As you can imagine, it has not been an easy month for the data centre industry. As work and schools shift to bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchen tables people are relying on internet services more than ever. Infrastructure teams have been working hard to make sure that those services stay online by expanding bandwidth on their networks and computing muscle in their data centres. And as for data centre engineers and staff, are now deemed critical workers in countries across the globe.

How is it doing?

Well… what they are really trying to avoid is major slowdowns and to ensure 100% uptime. With the internet as a whole seeing major spikes in traffic, data centre operators are working hard to keep things running. You will have heard of big content services such as Netflix and YouTube, who have been reducing video bitrate in parts of the world – this is because they want to relieve some of the strain!

Bevan Slattery of NEXTDC compared data centres to toilet paper in a recent LinkedIn post: ‘If you think people hoarding toilet paper was bad, can you imagine what is going to happen to data centre capacity?!’

Cloud providers have already seen a 50%-100% spike in space requirements and that is forecast to rise to 200% in the near-term future.

Construction Uncertainty

A number of construction projects across the globe have now been stopped or slowed down to ensure the health & safety of all workers on the projects. Facebook moved quickly to stop construction on its major sites in Clonee (Ireland) and Huntsville, Alabama (US).  

Data Centre projects before the pandemic were already under pressure to be completed on time and at a rapid pace. With construction projects being pulled into question – for the data centre industry the demand for these projects has only increased as a result of the pandemic. These projects that are on hold will still have deadlines to hit and it is expected to see construction expedited on projects as well as new projects fast-tracked through planning and into construction.

The stressed supply chain is under more pressure than ever before and it is essential that suppliers are protected to ensure the market can move quickly when the projects are once again operational.

Live facilities

Equinix, the world’s largest data centre operator by revenue has cut off nearly all customer and vendor access to its facilities in France, Germany, Italy and Span last week. They only allowed people in who were ‘critical & essential work’. Out of the big providers Equinix measures in Europe have been the most drastic.

According to TechUK competitor providers have been sharing information to ensure they can maintain operational within their facilities. “At operator level, the key priority is to balance staff safety with availability,” said Emma Fryer, Associate Director, techUK

Remote Working / Essential Staff

One of the challenges has been enabling a larger remote work force than ever before. The task is that most companies’ networks have not been set up to give the majority of their employees private, secure network access to corporate networks from their homes. The US saw a 150% increase in the use of VPN’s in week commencing 16th March.

Cisco has had to ration VPN’s due to the strain of 100000+ users on its network. Bailey Szeto (Vice President of Cisco Customer & Seller) recently:“We had to think about getting ready for 140,000 employees and partners. That meant we had to prepare 130,000 devices and 55,000 BYOD devices, across 498 offices in 94 countries.”

Can they run unmanned?

Since companies like Digital Realty Trust had been informed that individuals have tested positive in three of their data centres across the world – is poses the question of whether data centres can run unmanned?

If it does come to an evacuation situation – of any data centre – can the facility stay online without any staff? Uptime’s Dickerman says, this is depending on the design. A facility that has enough infrastructure redundancy could run for 24 hours unmanaged. However, he said “It is like a little bit like closing your eyes and driving your car on a straight stretch of highway… you don’t want to do it for too long.”

Any facility with a lower level of redundancy would be too risky to leave fully unmanned.

Dickerman then emphasises that there are two general camps. In one camp are organizations that have remote network operations centres, facilities and technicians that have remote access though private network connections. The other camp, are organizations that treat their data centres like ‘fortresses’ and don’t do any remote monitoring as well as not allowing any remote connections.

Whilst both approaches are valid, you will find that organizations in the first group are finding themselves much better prepared for the current crisis that the latter.

Hyperscale Spending

Although the coronavirus is said to be affecting IT spending in data centre products, the world’s leading hyperscale spenders such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have all said they will continue to spend billions on data centres this year according to Synergy Research Group.

Whilst there is a lot of ‘unknows’, what is clear is that the hyperscale operators generate over 80% of their revenues from cloud, digital services and online activities. These hyperscale firms are ready for the current crisis than most others and we will see an ongoing robust levels of capex. The majority of hyperscale capex goes towards building, expanding and equipping huge data centres. At the end of 2019 it was recorded that there were 512 hyperscale data centres in production and still that number is expected to grow in 2020 according to Synergy.

Big unknowns

According to Dickerman, all data centre operators have mostly taken all the necessary steps to minimize exposure to the virus while ensuring that they are keeping facilities running. However, there are some big unknowns that are concerning. One is the uncertainty is about when the crisis will subside – should operators make plans to operate under the continuous conditions? As well as the unknown plans of the government – what if all this does last a year… can the plans in place sustain a year or more?

Highfield are a Certified Carbon Neutral Business