Life in the New Normal: Starting a New Role During Lockdown
Almost all workplaces in the world have had to adjust to a new way of working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us already employed, it has meant taking laptops and phones out of the office, working remotely, and trying to maintain work relationships and a good rapport with colleagues. What happens when you start a new job amidst a pandemic? WIG recently recruited two new people - Hannah Langsford, Leadership Programmes Manager, and Kristiina Kriisa, CRM Data Manager. Hannah's interview process was just before lockdown, and Kristiina's happened during. They shared their experience of interviewing during a crisis, onboarding with a new team digitally, and some of the challenges and positives along the way.
- In your initial stages of interviewing, how did you find the interview process? Was there anything that you missed about a formal, face to face interview?
HL: (Interviewed before lockdown)
KK: The recruiter who put me forward for my role painted a really clear picture of WIG over the phone, and I felt like he was genuinely rooting for me. When I had my interview over Teams with Stuart (WIG COO), Tina (Head of Marketing) and Rajeev (previous CRM Data Manager and my predecessor) I think it actually helped as I was in my comfortable home environment and so were they. It immediately breaks the ice if you see someone in their domestic setting.
- What was it like on your first day joining a job but without having met any of your colleagues, or having seen the office you’d ordinarily be working in?
HL: I thankfully did attend the office for my interviews, which has been a real help in visualising discussions around the new normal and return to the office. It did feel very strange starting a new job without the physical formality of an office. But it also removed some of those first day worries, such as not having to worry about the timings for the new commute, or where to find things. The coffee mugs were exactly where they’ve always been!
KK: My first day was great as everything was well organised, my tech worked, and Rajeev (my predecessor) did a full CRM handover for me. I was also impressed with the friendly and fun energy I saw in Rajeev’s leaving do video.
- How easy has it been for you to settle in to your new role, working remotely? Have you had any challenges with this and what have they been?
HL: It is certainly different settling into a new role remotely, but everyone has been incredibly supportive. I do think being immersed in a new working environment really speeds up the process of settling in and building relationships.
KK: I am quite used to working remotely as CRM roles are notoriously flexible, so I feel rather settled in already.
- What do you miss from a normal office environment? What have you gained working remotely?
HL: I certainly miss the people and the social interaction. But gaining the time back from the daily commute has been really valuable.
KK: Jokey conversations, lunches with colleagues and getting to know everyone in a more organic, less-scheduled way. On the other hand, I have gained a much better work/life balance, and I am so happy not having to commute in an insufferably packed train.
- How have you found training to do a new job remotely? Was there any aspect that you found challenging or easier?
HL: The formal training I have found has worked just as well remotely as it would face to face. The only challenge is that due to the current circumstance I have missed out on the more informal training you gain by observing others in their roles. I think you often learn a huge amount through observation, both formally and informally.
KK: My predecessor, Rajeev, as his parting gift, left me with lots of folders containing countless documents. I’ve been able to work through them as I go along to find answers to my questions. Everyone has been really kind and willing to jump on a call to tell me more about their team.
- How well do you think you’ve been able to establish yourself in the team, and having a presence when all meetings are video calls?
HL: I think I’ve been able to establish myself in the team just as well as I would in person. I’ve previously worked with colleagues based in multiple offices so video call meetings are pretty routine for me.
KK: The best way to establish yourself is to do good work, regardless of where my laptop and I are located, so I am working with different teams, users and members to do just that.
- How do you envision the future of the workplace after COVID-19?
HL: With the vast majority of organisations now having the technology set up, and the trust established with employees, I think remote working will be common place. This will allow for more regional flexibility with roles, and a better work-life balance to reflect individual needs. However, I do think communal office spaces will still be valued, offering creative opportunities to work together and to have meaningful interaction with colleagues.
KK: People having more freedom with work arrangements will become the norm. Companies will stop paying premium central London rents for big glossy offices as employees have proven that they can be productive remotely. The quality of the time teams do spend together will be more appreciated, meaningful and fun.