working from home during lockdown
- Business

A new job, working from home and everything in between

Rachel Dettmer - Si digital - Marketing ManagerBy Rachel Dettmer

Restrictions were announced by the Government at the end of October last year, with the second lockdown beginning in quick succession thereafter. Gina, our new Sales and Marketing Director, joined our team in November and this has resulted in her working entirely remotely since then.

During this time we have gone from being locked down, into the tier system and then back into a *really long* lockdown.

We already had a four-day office week (lucky us), and as we are a digital agency we mostly work online anyway. That meant that most endpoints and applications were already secured, so we had a solid foundation for our infrastructure to easily accommodate remote working on a full-time basis.

However, this rapid shift to remote working meant that any new employees like Gina had to adapt to unprecedented changes. I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up with Gina and see how the past few months have been.

Not only have you started a new job, but you’ve had to face a new way of working too! Could you tell us a little bit about this?

I never imagined onboarding to a new job virtually, but this is a world we live in now. Luckily my past experience has really helped me. 

As a Director, you lead a team and are often looked to for guidance, plus this role is the first of its kind for the company so it’s exciting as I am able to define it. I also experienced the first lockdown in a working from home environment. Both these factors have definitely made onboarding virtually easier to do.

That’s not to say there haven’t been any challenges. I still haven’t met a lot of my colleagues face to face and don’t know who they are beyond Zoom and sometimes communication can break down over messaging. I also know that the company had great pre-Covid socials, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to experience any of them yet.

What have you found to be challenging WFH?

Day-to-day communication with colleagues is now a series of messages or maybe a phone call, and this can sometimes lead to miscommunication and information being lost in translation. In-person, the chances of this happening would be minimal and easily resolved by simply asking for clarification.

I also miss going out for lunch or grabbing a drink after work, and in general being in a social environment with my colleagues. This is where interpersonal relationships develop, and often this goes so much deeper than a few beers and is where great ideas can stem from.

Sometimes, although we are all getting better at it, Zoom can be a bit awkward. For most of my career, I’ve always met with potential and existing clients face to face, and these interactions go a long way in helping to build a good working relationship. I miss doing this.

What are the positives of WFH?

Because every person is in the same position – customers, colleagues, suppliers; everyone is more empathetic about feelings or technical issues, and there seems to be much more support and patience for it. Everyone is more understanding. 

I also have more family time as there is no commute, which is irreplaceable. This has also meant I can participate in more business meetings, which has helped me to get a feel for the company quicker and also enabled me to do my job better.

What are some of the things you would recommend to work successfully from home?

Here are my top five recommendations:

  • Structure is so important! Plan out your days and set up weekly meetings, especially when you are first starting, this will help you keep on top of things and allow you to get to know the company quickly
  • If possible have a dedicated workspace that you can shut the door on
  • Try to problem solve by yourself before asking for help, use google and exhaust all other options first 
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, messaging systems don’t always cut it and it helps to build a better rapport with your colleagues, better ideas stem from this, and your tone won’t be lost 
  • Make the most of your lunch break and get out for a walk, I find the fresh air helps me with my mental wellbeing

What or who has helped you the most whilst working remotely?

For me personally, I have managed to connect with four people who have helped and supported me through the first few months. This is also due to working with them the most and the rule of proximity. 

Steve, Founder and Managing Director,  is like-minded in business strategy and we have conversations that spark new ideas. I also find him really funny (don’t tell him I said that)!

Tom and Oli, who make up the Senior Management Team, have been great and offer invaluable insight.

Last but not least, working with and supporting you, Rachel. As the only other female within the company, there is also a special bond there.

Any last words to wrap this up?

Overall it’s been different but fun, which is what’s most important to me. I think I have earned the trust and respect of my colleagues and feel a part of the team. We are moving in the right direction, in Sales and Marketing, as well as the wider business as a whole.

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