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Starting a new job can be overwhelming at the best of times. The fear of leaving a secure job to move back into a period of probation in new employment, to the uncertainty of not knowing the team that you are about to work with day in, day out.
I decided to take the leap of faith and leave my comfortable job of nearly 8 years to commence employment with a new employer at the start of March 2020. Yes, that’s right, I started a new job right before a worldwide pandemic was about to hit, changing the way that everyone would work for a very long time.
Not only did I have the anxiety of starting new employment but I now had to combine that feeling with all of the fears associated with the virus, and the new challenge of homeschooling a primary aged child with a 1 year old hanging off my hip as childcare was no longer a safe option.
What was I thinking!
In all of the chaos I made one sound decision. I managed to select a new employer that through all of the darkness and sleepless nights, knew the importance of having the right people to pull her through the crisis, and had faith that her team would help drive her business to the other side. It would have been an easy option for her to go by the ‘last on, first off’ rule, but she somehow saw the value that I could add to her business, and recognized that when she survived the crisis, I could support her business to recover.
After 6 days in the office I was now working in the ‘comfort’ of my own home (with screaming children in the background….) trying to figure things out for myself, as I no longer had someone sitting next to me that I could constantly ask those silly questions to all day long. Fortunately, the business was set up to work just as efficiently remotely, as I could in the office. The new systems and database that I was slowly becoming familiar with, were functioning just the same at home.
As we all navigated our way through the new normal, we scheduled twice daily catch ups with the team to keep us all connected, and on my part, enable me to get to know my new work colleagues. Along with this, our regular one on one catch ups, monthly meetings and lunch training still occurred, just over Zoom. We even managed to have some social drinks and a dance session over Zoom! As it was, I actually did feel connected to the team that I had only known for a few weeks, and felt that I was moving forward in my training and development with the guidance and regular coaching of my new manager.
My tips for staying connected while working from home:
Encourage regular team catch-ups
Although everyone can get overwhelmed by their daily schedules and not make this a priority, team check ins are so important to keep moral high and ensure that everyone is still on the same page.
One on One catch-ups with your Manager
This is vital to ensure you know how you are tracking and to follow up on any pressing issues before they become a problem. Working from home can be very isolating, so it is important that you can have an honest and transparent conversation with your Manager.
Continue with your daily/weekly/monthly schedule
For consistency, ensure that you stick to your normal schedules as much as possible. If you have weekly /monthly team meetings / budget meetings/appraisals/reviews, continue with this schedule to keep things ticking along and avoid an adjustment period when you all get back to the office.
Try some fun, social activities over Zoom
Whether it be Friday night drinks, a workplace trivia night or some online karaoke, try and continue to engage your staff on a lighter level and give them a chance to connect socially.
It is ok to not be ok
Accept that these times are challenging and unprecedented for all of us, and encourage your staff to reach out to others or EAP if they are feeling overwhelmed or need to talk through the challenges they are facing.
Over the next few weeks / months we will transition back into the office, and for me, it will be like having my first day all over again. There will be that casual office conversation about irrelevant topics, and office banter that I am yet to participate in with my team. There will be a chance to observe body language during conversations that you miss out on online, and no uncertain pauses in conversation that there so often is over zoom with our slower home internet connections.
My initial feelings of fear and uncertainty have now passed, and I am energized to start working with my new / ‘kind of now old’ team. I will be replacing my Ugg boots under my home desk for professional heels and strut my way back into the office like I never left.
Rachael Brown has close to 10 years’ experience in human resources, with a particular interest in recruitment and career coaching. Rachael is passionate about inclusiveness and providing everyone with a fair opportunity, regardless of the barriers they face. She encourages people to be the best version of themselves by coaching them to promote the skills and knowledge that they have to offer.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.