Starting a new job in lockdown.

By Wendy Watherston on Tuesday, 28 April 2020

So, I’m coming towards the end of my fourth week in a new job as a Director in the PR team at Teamspirit. Before starting I was of course filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness; I hadn’t started a new job in forever having been with my previous employer for a number of years. These were of course very natural feelings that you would expect to have, but hang-on a minute, in came another element of the unknown, joining in lockdown!

Like everyone else I have the overall anxiety of what the virus could mean for my loved ones and myself; it’s a feeling that flows through everything. And starting a new job in the middle of all of this has been discombobulating to say the least. How is it going to work logistically, how will I understand new processes, operating patterns, and most importantly how do I get to know my colleagues themselves. PRs are by nature a fun, friendly and energetic group of people and I myself thrive from interacting and being able to share ideas and hurdles and work together as a team to find solutions. But how was this all going to work when we are all at home?

Logistically, the team worked hard to make sure I was set up with all the right equipment that I needed to get cracking. All the usual inductions and buddy systems were put seamlessly in place via Teams to ensure I was well looked after and started to understand the full breadth of what the Teamspirit business did and ways of working. I’ve managed one on one calls with almost all my colleagues to introduce myself properly and learn more about them. Some with wine, it’s nice to know the team enjoy a tipple!

From an emotional and collegiate perspective, the support and help that has been given to me by the whole team with good humour and bonhomie has made what could have been a stressful and quite frankly terrifying experience, far easier to cope with and more enjoyable than I could have hoped for when I was originally faced with it. What has been key to this is how generous people have been with their time, people who are themselves stressed and under pressure adapting to new ways of working while ensuring excellent client service.

The transparency and regularity of communication has also been fantastic. We have a weekly management team meeting and the wider weekly PR huddle or Pruddle is a chance for everyone to catch up on client news, new business, operational need to knows and of course gossip. These have already extended into a team social on a couple of occasions, including our Easter PR pub quiz.

The whole agency are invited for a virtual morning coffee break every day with the CEO where we can have a break and a natter about all things work and non-work related. And there are weekly wellbeing and mindfulness sessions to help alleviate stress and provide coping strategies.

On a work note, I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with my new colleagues on a big fully integrated new business pitch. It was a Herculean effort on everyone’s part and given we couldn’t work on it together in person it required a bit more investment of time and more meetings. However, we delivered it to the potential client via zoom last week and suffice to say that all that effort was well worth it and it went without a hitch.

So while it has been hard, and I appreciate how lucky I am to have a job during this current climate, I can also see that I’m even luckier to have a job with great colleagues, good clients and fantastic work to do. It’s probably also worth noting that from the first meeting I had at Teamspirit about a potential new role, well before lockdown, I knew these were my kind of people. And my experience since starting has proved how right I was!

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