Tori Watling | Marketing Manager
Two days into the UK’s first lockdown in March, my brother sent me a message on LinkedIn to congratulate me on starting my new role; “Congrats Tor, weird as owt starting a new role under these circumstances. Well done”.
Fast forward to 12th October, and it was his turn to start a new job during the pandemic and his response to my message was simple – “ …this is the new norm.”
As we entered ‘Lockdown 2.0’ in the UK, I took a moment to reflect on my own experience of starting a new job during a national lockdown.
It was a big step
When I resigned from my job of six years I could never have imagined the impact COVID-19 was about to have on the entire world. On my last Friday at Logicor, rumours of a national lockdown were already swirling but everything was still up in the air, with us all anxiously awaiting an announcement from the government that evening.
I spent the day clearing away my belongings and packed up my desk, just in case. We all know what happened then. I never returned to the office.
In the lead up to starting at Coyote, there had been lots of emails and phone calls back and forth as we tried to plan my first day.
I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t worried about the possibility of my start date being delayed, or the potential of the role being withdrawn altogether. My best friend was due to start a similar role in Berlin that same week, and we ran through every possible outcome. It’s amazing the scenarios you can think up over a two-hour phone call.
To my relief, the Monday before we went into lockdown, my new boss, Fred, came to hand-deliver some IT equipment to my home. It was all systems go from there as we went virtual.
Working from home woes
A challenge a lot of people can probably resonate with is how poor my internet connection was at the start of lockdown. In the first three days, I logged 14.5 hours on Zoom – and, the vast majority of that time consisted of me apologising for my video freezing, missing parts of the conversation, or disconnecting completely.
Thankfully this was only a temporary problem as I moved into a new home at the start of May, which gave me the ideal opportunity to upgrade my broadband. A new location threw up other challenges for me though. I had taken an unfurnished tenancy so while I waited for the new sofa to arrive, my ‘office’ was a vast, empty room with just a dining table, two chairs and a wicker basket doubling up as a TV stand.
I will never underestimate the importance of creating a good working environment ever again. Although, kitting out a new home did give me a nice little side-project to work on in my free time.
Becoming part of the team
Getting to know everybody has taken longer than if I’d been able to join the old-fashioned way. Initially, it was hard to work out when to jump into a conversation over Zoom or crack a joke. Luckily, I joined a company that has fun ways of making you feel welcome.
The Coyote quizzes certainly helped break the ice. In one of the first, I was tasked with trying to find obscure items to balance on a towel wrapped around my head. We then moved on to drawing games, bingo and Mario Kart races competing for the prize of a Deliveroo voucher. This time dedicated to non-work related activities gave me the opportunity to talk to colleagues from all areas of the business.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to meet all my colleagues in-person at some point, but I’m happy to say, I don’t believe working remotely has hindered my onboarding into the team.
Striking a balance
Around half-way through the first COVID-19 lockdown, a new flexible working policy was introduced at Coyote. The whole world was adapting to a new way of working and the company realised the team could still achieve the results needed while working from home.
Flexible working means something different to everybody – for some of my colleagues that will mean being able to drop their kids to the school gates before making their way into the office. For others, it will mean commuting into the office once or twice a week and some may decide to work from home permanently.
The most important thing is being able to strike the perfect work-life balance for you.
My commute is only a 20-minute walk so I’m looking forward to being able to return to the office a few days a week, but it’s also great knowing that if I want that 40-minutes back, it’s also fine to work from home.
As we navigate our way through the coming months, I hope circumstances allow me to finally meet up with all my new colleagues and also have some long-overdue farewell drinks with old ones too.
Although COVID-19 kept us apart for most of 2020, let’s hope the new year allows us to get back to some form of normality.