So what's it like to start a new job during lockdown? After a year of being self-employed, I returned to full-time employment with byrne·dean last Monday and I thought I'd share my views on what it's like to start a new job with the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe.
To start with, it's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand there is huge relief that I have secured employment, with a great company, doing a role that I love. But that comes paired with a lot of guilt. Guilt for all my friends who have been furloughed or are struggling financially, guilt for all those around the globe who already have or are likely to lose their jobs. Guilt that I'm doing okay when so many others aren't. I know that I probably shouldn't need to feel that way, but there it is.
Secondly, getting to grips with a new role in these circumstances is immensely challenging. In a normal world there would likely be some form of induction process, time to meet your team in person and generally get a sense of the firm and the people you'll be working with. That hasn't happened. Now, I'm lucky in that I have worked with byrne·dean in various capacities for 6 years, but even then I have found starting a new role in the remote environment to be exhausting. Everything is taking a little bit longer, feels a little bit more complicated and a bit more convoluted than it should. Asking a simple question (which once upon a time would have been asked of the person sitting at the desk next to you) now involves emails, telephone calls or Zoom meetings. It's surprisingly draining. I can only imagine how exhausting this must be for employees starting a brand new job with a brand new employer.
Talking of Zoom, I think I'm already experiencing video call fatigue (I'm sure I'm not alone there)! Feeling tired from getting to grips with a new role in a remote world is only being exacerbated by the hours I have to spend on video calls. Don't get me wrong - it's an amazing tool that allows for connectivity but there's something about being 'on show' on a screen (and not having the benefit of body language) which is utterly exhausting. It's all about adjusting to a new way or working, but it's going to be so important for employers to bear that in mind - you don't want people to burn out before they've truly got their feet under the desk!
That takes me to my final observation - wellbeing and mental health is critical right now. We've noticed a big uptake in our mental health training products as employers look to support their employees during these difficult times. Don't forget that new employees may feel reluctant to say they're struggling or to ask for help. But length of service is not an indicator of how stressed or anxious someone might feel in these current circumstances. Employers therefore need to be very clear in their communications that support is available for ALL, no matter how recently you joined.
I've talked a lot about the things I've found hard, but to be clear, I've also really enjoyed the challenge. It has provided a welcome structure and routine to my day, it has given me mental focus and a strong sense of purpose. So I'm very grateful for my circumstances, even if my home office is a little cramped these days...