Advice note: developing during furlough

21 Apr 2020

21 April 2020

Last week, the WPA NextGen Committee held their first virtual roundtable exploring the future of working in Westminster. The event was due to be held in March as part of our Spotlight Series but was postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Feedback from the roundtable will be used alongside an online survey and smaller focus groups, to produce a WPA NextGen thought leadership white paper in the coming weeks. Our programme for 2020 is supported by NextGen champion Gardiner & Theobald. You can read more about the partnership here.

Have you been put on furlough? If so, this is good news as your employer is trying to safeguard your job. Furlough presents an unusual opportunity for you to have a break from the 9 to 5 and use this time for you! Whilst you may feel anxious about this period, stay positive and take every day to achieve something good.

Here is some advice for WPA members who want to be proactive during furlough:

Volunteer your time

  • Volunteer physically, or virtually for a charity or for the NHS
  • Volunteer for your company, so long as you are not creating revenue for them you may still be able to volunteer with some tasks. This will demonstrate a fantastic attitude to your employer.
  • Fundraising, you don’t need to climb a mountain to fundraise, how about a sponsored silence or run? You can support the property industry charity LandAid.

Developing your skills

  • Up-skilling: don’t be afraid to ask your employer for advice on any training that they offer or that they recommend you undertake while on furlough
  • Continuing professional development: there are many ways to learn – read & learn from others, blogs, press and even dust off your old textbooks, listen to podcasts or audiobooks and watch webinars
  • Qualifications: is there a GCSE subject that you are interested in, or a professional qualification that might challenge you?
  • Online profile: improve your online profile by setting up or updated LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Share articles and information that interests you, demonstrating to the industry that you are still keeping a keen interest in what is going on.
  • APC: are you a qualified surveyor? You could help others going through their APCs by offering guidance
  • Online courses: skills that are separate from your career, for example a new language, software, design, marketing…
  • Review: re-evaluate your working practices and consider ways to become more efficient, work better with others and improve the service that you deliver


  • Improve your fitness, health and wellbeing by exercising and eating healthily. This will put you in the best position for returning to work full of energy!
  • Family life: a common topic for WPA NextGen is work-life balance. Use this time to rebalance, teach your children new skills and spend time with your family
  • Improve your interests: practice yoga, music, cooking, art, writing – whatever your hobbies are
  • Life admin: we all have admin jobs that are constantly pushed to the bottom of the list, spring cleaning, reorganising, filing – this is your opportunity…

Communication between you and your employer will be important during any period away from work, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and keep in touch with your colleagues.

This is a real opportunity to unwind, set new challenges and achieve things that you may not have otherwise been able to.

Tell your employer about your newly acquired skills and you may be even more valuable to them when you return.

Go for it!

Emily Stephenson

WPA NextGen Committee / Director at Colliers International