Hannah Barnham started as a Placement Officer in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in May 2020 and has never had a working day in the office. Here are her excellent tips and hints for any students or graduates starting a job virtually this summer. Careers Service thanks Hannah for this great blog and we hope to meet you in person soon!
Starting a new job can be daunting but also exciting. Meeting new people, assuming new responsibilities and getting stuck in is all part of it. However, with Coronavirus turning our working lives upside down, your new experience and the excitement that would normally bring could be in danger of being dampened.
These are my experiences of starting a new job remotely and some top tips that could help you.
Luckily but not surprisingly, I was greeted with the warmest of welcomes from my University team-mates. Albeit through a slightly pixelated virtual call, I was introduced to the team and with a few icebreakers and welcomes, I felt part of the team from day 1. These introductions and chats kept coming throughout the week and I now have daily catchups and face-to-face calls with most of the team. If you are starting a new job or onboarding during this pandemic, its vital to have this face-to-face contact as it really does connect and bring a team together.
Staying motivated throughout the day can be tricky enough as it is, so with the added distractions at home, (namely my cat, Hector) this can be tough. Starting a new role has meant I have had to be super organised and focused; so, to keep up motivation I have a few top tips that have got me through the day. Standing up and having a walk around your room for 5 minutes every hour or so really helps with any eye strain or back ache you might be experiencing. Secondly, making the most of your lunch hour, even if it’s just for 20 minutes or so, stretching, doing some yoga or even running on the spot can really help energise you for the afternoon. Lastly, having our team's Friday quiz has really motivated me as it’s something to look forward to and helps me stay driven through the week. Having some ‘downtime’ as a team where you can connect and do non-work things is definitely a winner!
Coronavirus seems to have polarised the nation. One half who are reminiscing of the days when you could actually speak to someone face-to-face, 1:1 and have an intimate conversation. The other half, (including myself) who relish the opportunity to use more innovative technology to speed up processes and systems. Make sure to take advantage of any time-management or focus apps, there are so many to choose from and they are all great at keeping up your concentration. My personal favourite is Forest- this app encourages you to keep off your phone while working. Essentially you ‘plant a seed’ when you begin working, then the longer you leave your phone untouched, the bigger the ‘seed’ grows and eventually it turns into a tree. As you achieve goals you will get rewards which you can use to fund the planting of real trees – so you’re doing a little bit for the environment and working hard- win win! Other apps that are useful are Done a great one for creating good habits, and of course, Headspace, a great meditation app with lots of free 5-minute meditations available. Having previously worked for a tech start-up, I love using these different programmes and technologies and, in my eyes, if it makes my role more efficient and productive, I am all for it.
All in all, I have loved my first month in my new role and whilst I lament that I can’t be on campus reliving my student days for a while longer yet, I could happily work from home as I am now for a good few months more. Sometimes not having that chat in the kitchen or staffroom is missed and the faff of asking someone a question that would take 30 seconds in the office can be frustrating, but with a positive mentality and a great support network, you can and will find starting your new job remotely to be rewarding.
With the cheesy lines over, here are some productive things you can do if you are starting a new job, remotely, during the pandemic.
- Communicate! Try and talk to at least one person on a video call every day
- Breathe! Take 5 minutes breaks every hour or so and have a walk around the room
- Ask! Don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Relax! Take part in a quiz or any non-work-related activities with your teammates
- Enjoy! Take advantage of this time, enjoy your work and really get stuck in!
Are you worried about starting a job virtually or you'd like to have a chat about it? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will support you.