The reality of starting a new career in lockdown

Joining a new company is nerve racking at the best of times, made particularly daunting while a global pandemic is in full swing. Just a few short weeks into lockdown, I started my new role as Account Executive at Isoline Communications.

Instead of making the exciting commute to the London office on my first day, I headed to the kitchen for breakfast before walking the long distance back upstairs to my new office for the foreseeable future: my bedroom desk. Dressed in a smart shirt matched with a pair of old tracksuit bottoms and some fluffy socks, I was ready to meet my new colleagues for the first time via a zoom call. It can be hard enough meeting your new colleagues for the first time in person, but I found myself more nervous figuring out how to best get my personality across from the other side of a webcam. Safe to say, it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I had anticipated.

Meeting the team

As I’m sure the same goes for anyone starting a new job over lockdown, I was anxious about not being able to get to know my colleagues on a personal level, without the usual team lunches and after-work social events. However, the ice was well and truly broken on my second day, with an after-work get together on zoom paired with drinks and fun ‘get to know each other’ games – which has now become a Friday afternoon ritual. Socialising in this way was not how I imagined it would be. Of course, behind a screen you’ll never get the same level of interaction you would in person, but by seeing the inside of your colleague’s homes and their family members and pets showing their faces on calls, you get a little snapshot into the lives of the people you’re working with.

Staying connected

Initially, I was worried about how onboarding would manifest virtually. However, my team was quick to show me, that, through a combination of routine 9:30am team calls, daily check-ins with my line-manager and a constant flow of – albeit not always work related – conversations via the company Slack chat, I soon figured I had nothing to worry about. Isoline has always had a work from home approach, which worked in my favour as the necessary processes and systems were already in place. This removed the battle that many companies are currently facing, who have been thrown into this new way of working with no time to prepare. Although this made onboarding from home much easier, welcoming and training a new team member in this way was still far from the ‘norm’ for Isoline, as it is for most agencies

The learning curves 

Ironically, in many ways, I feel that being out of the traditional office environment has presented even more opportunities to upskill and learn. After being placed in a position of inescapable independence – and with the removal of any handholding you would usually get – it’s a real opportunity to shine and show how well you manage your own responsibilities in the work place. Although, I do sometimes feel like I want to turn to the imaginary colleague sitting next to me to ask a question, this change has certainly taught me how to improve my own problem-solving skills.

The temporary blurring of work and home life during quarantine has no doubt made it much harder to hit the ground running, but for anyone else in the same position, I would say grasp the challenge with both hands and use is as an opportunity to really stand out to your team. Taking the initiative to perform extra research before a new kick off meeting was the perfect opportunity to show my eagerness and resourcefulness. After surviving the hardest part of starting a new job in lockdown, I’ve already learnt a lot about myself and the ways I can work most effectively moving forward, such as how to easily breakdown big tasks into more manageable bitesize pieces.

For anyone else starting their new role at home, I would say to you, be kind to yourself – no one expects you to go in guns blazing and solve every single problem coming your way from day one. From getting yourself set up, learning the processes and the best way to communicate with your team remotely, it all takes time – and that’s to be expected. If the communication is there, there’s no reason starting a new job from your bedroom can’t work. And in a post-lockdown world – where it’s inevitable that more companies will choose to adopt some sort of work from home approach – I wouldn’t be surprised if remote onboarding becomes the new normal.

Overall, I’m left feeling very fortunate to be starting a new career in the current climate, and to have the facilities in place to be able to work from home. I’ve definitely enjoyed the extra time handed to me as the result of no little-to-no morning commute, spending my lunch breaks eating with my family and generally just watching more Netflix. However, I am now more excited than ever to take my first steps into my new office and meet my new work friends in the flesh, and see what a normal day in the life of a content marketer at Isoline really looks like.

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About the Author : Carmel Weinberger


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