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Starting a new job during lockdown – from ScotlandIS new hire Joanne

This is a pretty weird time for everyone, I think we can all agree? That’s the one consolation in all of this, that the entire world is in the same boat. Isolation, social-distancing, extreme use of hand sanitiser, the greatest toilet paper shortage in history; this is what everyone globally is experiencing right now.

But what about people still trying to carry on as normal? Relatively normal, that is.

With all companies that are able to now working remotely, it will have been a strange adjustment going from chatting to colleagues all day, or nipping over to someone’s desk to check something, or thinking out loud and getting responses, to sitting alone in a home office, arranging video calls and wearing out WhatsApp.

However I can tell you now, it’s not quite the same level of adjustment as required when starting a new job by working from home.

I started at ScotlandIS last week, and it has been the strangest experience of starting a job. I met one colleague in person, in order to have a quick chat and pick up my laptop, which took place on a park bench (reminiscent of undercover government agents making a rendezvous and handing over a “package”) because – you guessed it – COVID-19 had shut down all hospitality premises.

Other than that, it’s been a relatively solo operation; I have met all my colleagues virtually, from the safety of their own homes via video calls. I’ve explored all my new resources and got to grips with their systems, and asked plenty of questions along the way (thank god for instant messaging). Being at home has given me the chance to do a lot of research on the company and understanding its practices, its motivations and its missions.

Isn’t technology fantastic, though? The ability to work miles and miles apart and yet still meet for morning coffee on Zoom, conduct training via screenshare, or even run public events online! If I wasn’t in awe of technology before, I certainly am now (which means I’m working for the right company).

This is a difficult time for a lot of people, especially for those who have found themselves out of work. Do not give up hope! There are plenty of organisations that are still hiring, having either found their operations minimally interrupted by the current situation or that their business actually provides a solution to people right now. These companies are still actively looking for hires, and thanks to technology, it’s possible to get started remotely.

To anyone in a similar position as myself, beginning a new job from the spare room, it’s important to remember these things:

  1. Keep in regular face-to-face (screen-to-screen) contact with your team – partly so you know what they look like when the day comes to meet them in person, but mainly so you are actually getting some natural human interaction. Important for conveying and learning information, but also for retaining sanity.
  2. Ask LOTS of questions – it might feel more intrusive, having to actually contact people instead of throwing out a question in the office, but it’s necessary to get on the right page and ensure understanding while working remotely. There are always going to be questions in a new job and this shouldn’t get in the way.
  3. Read up – you have the company’s website and files and any relevant documents: take the time to read up on everything they do, and what they’re about. While you’re not being distracted by colleagues in an office, use this chance to fully immerse yourself in your new company with a quickfire induction, and the sooner you’ll feel a confident part of the team.
  4. Take care of yourself – any difficulties or stress will only be exacerbated by working from home on your own, so make sure to treat it like an office day. Get up and walk around regularly, eat lunch away from your desk and go screen-free on your break. Read a book or do a quick workout. Clear your head.

Good luck to everyone and stay safe!

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