What’s it like to start a new job in the middle of a global pandemic and during lockdown?
Our HR Manager, Cat McClay, joined us at the start of May. But this wasn’t long after our offices had closed and the entire team had started working from home. We’re used to team members working remotely but this was a completely different situation, here’s how it went…
I started at AgileCadence on 4th May 2020. On my first day at work, I had everything you would expect…a new desk, a laptop, a crisp new notepad ready to be filled full of notes. I was nervous, excited and ready to take on a new challenge. Everything was exactly as you would expect. Except that I was joining a company in the middle of a global pandemic, and I was doing it remotely from my spare bedroom.
As a HR Manager I know the importance of a successful onboarding process. It can have a huge impact on an employee’s early impressions of a company. Whilst my first day at AgileCadence may not have been what I had envisaged, my whole experience has been nothing but positive. I believe there are a few reasons for this:
The team made sure that I had all the equipment I needed to hit the ground running. As someone who is very organised, I was delighted that everything arrived the week prior to me starting. This meant I had the opportunity to get set up in advance and I could spend day 1 reviewing induction materials and connecting with my colleagues.
Of course, during a global pandemic technology is the key to staying connected with friends, family and colleagues. I am so grateful that we live in an age where we have technology at our fingertips, allowing us to stay connected and still see one another. Being able to have video calls on Microsoft Teams and physically see my colleagues has really helped me to build relationships.
If you are lucky you might even be joined on the call by someone’s pet dog or little ones. With a 17-month-old myself, and a dog who likes to make me aware that the post has arrived, this has all been part of the fun working from home!
Communication is important at the best of times, but it is even more critical when people are working remotely. During my first week there was a global company call to introduce me to everyone which was lovely. By week 2 I had had 1-1 video calls with everyone in the team.
Everyone has been so welcoming, warm and positive and I couldn’t have been made to feel more at home (quite literally). This has all been in addition to regular catch ups with my manager, optional daily catch up’s where you can dial-in to connect with colleagues, and bi-weekly business breakfast updates. There is always someone to talk to and I have felt incredibly supported which is important, especially just now.
Within my first couple of weeks, I had created a HR strategy and worked with my manager to create a clear job description with objectives. Having this structure and clarity has really allowed me to focus on adding value early on. This is particularly important in any job but particularly when you are working remotely. I am clear in what I need to do and what I want to achieve, and I understand how my role fits into the bigger picture.
All I can say is what a GREAT team. I promise that they haven’t paid me to say that! I feel very lucky to work with such genuinely nice people, they have all been incredibly welcoming and supportive. They really do care about what they do and they have fun doing it.
By week 4 I was running a quiz night at the virtual ‘AgileArms’ (I won’t embarrass anyone by telling you some of the scores) and a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be visited by a couple of members of the team who were on a socially distanced bike ride. I made sure that their visit was rewarded with some homemade cake.
They have all made such an effort to make sure that I feel part of the team. I am so looking forward to meeting everyone face to face in the not too distant future.
I started this role following an extended period of maternity leave. When I told people that I was starting a new job from home during the Coronavirus outbreak, everyone’s first question was ‘how is that going to work?’. A lot of people have commented on how it must be strange, particularly given my role in HR which is very people facing. But you know what, it has worked, and it has worked really well.
I am 2 months into my new role at AgileCadence and I can genuinely say that I am loving it. My experience continues to be so positive. At a time of great uncertainty in the world it has been amazing to have an exciting new focus to channel my energy into. Yes, it has been unusual to have started a new position during a global pandemic, but the people I work with have made it so easy.
And the fact that I get cuddles from my little boy throughout the day has made it even more enjoyable.