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How Virtual Work Experience Could Benefit Your Business

Dec. 3, 2021, 12:07 p.m.
With the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the impact this is having on working practices, it is really important that we offer our students a rounded opportunity to experience the working environment both in the office and working independently at home, especially for our customer service and administration students.

Virtual work experience can provide the opportunity for students to develop the following skills:

- Working independently
- Time management (meeting targets)
- IT skills, especially using communication platforms (Zoom, Teams)
- Ability to communicate with all levels including colleagues across different sites and in different parts of the country or different parts of the world (not always possible in an office environment)
- Opportunity to learn how to work in a remote working situation
- Development of personal skills, including self motivation and discipline when unsupervised.

In order for a virtual or remote work experience to be effective and benefit both the student and employer, the placement will need to be well planned, with activities and responsibilities for the student to complete for each day. Throughout this experience, it is vital that all students have contact with their work mentor at least twice a day, once at the start of the day and once at the end of the day. This is normally through 'keeping in touch meetings' (KIT meetings).

A GFT Assessor will work alongside the employer to put the plan together and support the student and mentor to review progress on a weekly basis, making any adjustments to benefit both the employer and the student.

The activities need to be real working tasks (creating documents, being part of meetings either one to one or as part of a team, doing research, creating and sending emails etc). The complexity of the tasks should increase towards the end of the work experience, helping the student to grow in their role and see their own progress as they come towards the end of their placement.

The remote work experience should be challenging and have key objectives based on the employability behaviours, this includes:

- Time keeping and punctuality (Did the student attend the KIT meetings on time?)
- Were tasks completed accurately and on time?
- Was the student able to communicate professionally at all levels?
- Did the student use their own initiative?
- Did the student show a willingness to learn new tasks?
- Was the student able to manage their time effectively?
- Was the student able to act on feedback?

At the end of the virtual/remote work experience, students will be required to write a detailed report based on evaluating their experience and present it to the employer either in person or via teams/zoom.

The employer will also be asked to provide feedback and a reference for the student.

A typical duration for the virtual work experience is approx. 8 weeks. Considering the combination of a remote work experience and an in-person work experience may benefit the student and the employer if a full-time commitment to attending a workplace can not be made. Doing this may will prove to the employer that the student has the skills required for todays workforce, as we consider working from home an increasingly popular requirement for modern roles at work.

If you wish to take on a Student from one of our Access Programmes, either virtually or in-person, please contact Dee.Long@wearegft.co.uk.