Client Executive, Abbie Hammilton-Cooke, had an unusal start to her Summit career, initiated into the business during week two of COVID-19 lockdown we wanted to know how has she found it so far.
Starting a new job at any time in your life is always going to be daunting. But starting a new job during a pandemic lockdown is a whole other story. Looking back about 2 months ago when I was excitedly filling out a job application, I had never imagined that I’d be starting my new position under such circumstances. So, what is it like to start a new job from home? In a word, it’s strange, but it has certainly been an experience that I’ll never forget.
Working From Home from Week One
After getting offered the job (yay!) and as my start date drew closer, the social distancing measures became more and more strict. Only a week before I was due to start, the UK went into total lockdown. The team had already been working from home for a few weeks so we’d already arranged that I’d be starting from home. Luckily for me, that meant most of the teething issues had been ironed out and most had settled into lockdown working life.
After logging in with the help of the HR team over the phone on Monday morning, I got the chance to meet my new colleagues over a video call. It was nice to see the faces of the people who I’d be working with but also weird to know that I wouldn’t actually be meeting them properly for possibly months! Still, we did a few icebreakers and each exchanged some interesting facts about ourselves. I made mental notes of everyone’s names and of course forgot them all immediately after the call ended!
Virtually Meeting the Team
The first week was filled with meeting new people, learning who does what and getting to grips with the company as a whole. But this is quite hard to do from home. Video conferencing has been a lifesaver for me. I think that without being able to talk to my new colleagues remotely, I would have very easily become isolated. But being able to talk and even put names to faces has been essential in helping me to integrate into the business.
Of course, working from home can pose a few challenges when it comes to learning on the job. It’s not as easy to do work shadowing and it can feel like you’re interrupting when asking questions. Under normal circumstances, I might have just popped over to someone’s desk to clarify a process or ask a question. But, having never met most of my colleagues, it’s sometimes hard to even know who to ask the questions to! Although it might feel a bit more intrusive having to ask the question directly to someone over a chat message, my colleagues have made sure I feel confident enough to approach them.
I haven’t had the opportunity to work from home before and was worried about the impact it would have on my productivity. However, I’m finding myself with better concentration than ever. Although I’m missing the social aspect of chatting with colleagues over lunch or my morning cup of tea, I’ve found that those little distractions add up to a whole lot of time during the day! I have slowly but surely got into a routine and found it’s a good idea to switch off on an evening and keep work separate from home life.
The added benefit of higher productivity has meant I have had a lot more time to dedicate to learning and development. I have been able to complete training in soft skills that I might not have had the chance to do normally. Being able to ease into my new role this way has helped to make sure I fully understand the programmes and tech I’ll be using in my day-to-day tasks. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not alone and that everyone else is navigating the lockdown at the same pace as me. It has definitely been a learning curve for us all but we’ve shown resilience.
Although I’m hoping that I’ll never have to start a role in lockdwon again, I’m trying my best to learn from this strange situation and make the most of it.
To sum up, I think that starting a new job during a lockdown has allowed me to see that even if we’re all miles apart, we are still a team. And that as a team we can adapt to change, even when that change is as massive as a global crisis!
For working from home tips, read our blog 10 easy ways to make working from home fun.