Lessons from Lockdown: starting a new job

When the pandemic hit last year, most of us had to make a quick shift to remote working. But what’s it like to start a new job in the middle of a lockdown? Our newest Asgardian, Helena, shares her experience.

  • 1st April

First – and only – day in the office

It was with slight trepidation that I headed to Minerva Mill on March 1st. Nearly a year into working and socialising online, the virtual interviews had seemed weirdly normal (usual interview nervousness notwithstanding). But not visiting your new workplace, or meeting your new bosses in person until your first day, is a set of circumstances unique to life in lockdown.

Masks on, handshake avoided and temperature checked, I followed Geoff to Asgard’s office and took a seat at my socially distanced desk for what would be a fleeting glimpse into my new working environment. With the help of a large monitor positioned in the centre of the room, we walked through my induction via screen-sharing.

Short but sweet, the opportunity to be there physically made me feel at ease. Although it was just myself, Boston and Geoff, the day gave me a sense of the culture I can look forward to when the energetic buzz of a full team at work does eventually return. Kit collected, I headed home to set up my own Asgard satellite station.

Unusual icebreakers

One of the things everyone has missed whilst working at home are those little exchanges that help you bond with your teammates. Doing the tea round or sharing an anecdote from your weekend. These connections are important to working cohesively – especially in a creative environment. And even more so when you don’t know anybody yet!

In the first week at Asgard, ‘icebreaker’ video calls were scheduled in with each of the team. This was a chance for an informal ‘hello’ with each of my fellow Asgardians. Strangely, the current working environment gives you a different insight into your colleague’s worlds. By the nature of video conferencing, you’re invited into people’s homes and conversations evolve around visual points of interest. So although I don’t know how my new team take their coffee, I do know their taste in wallpaper. I’ve also virtually met a cat (Debbie), and a dog (Kya) – well, who hasn’t been video-bombed by someone’s pet in the last 12 months?

Things to discover when we get back to the office:

1. Who takes sugar?

2. Am I the shortest member of the team? Highly likely.

3. Are all my co-workers real people or are some of them Star Wars-esque holograms? Well, anything is possible with AI!

Wake-up calls

The day at Asgard always starts with a team meeting (and usually a discussion of what everyone watched on Netflix last night). These morning check-ins bring everyone together for a small part of the day. When you’re working remotely it’s easy to feel isolated. Of course, these meetings are there to help us keep projects on track. But importantly, they also keep alive the team spirit and help ensure that no one loses the confidence to put their voice and ideas forward. As a new member of staff, having this regular contact has made me feel like I’m working with others and not alone. And I’ve had some good TV recommendations too.

Let’s get digital, digital…

It goes without saying that Asgard knows a thing or two about tech – it’s kind of what we do. So I’ve had everything I’ve needed to quickly get stuck into my role without a hitch, from a compact space at home. That’s not just a lightweight laptop and swanky pair of headphones – but software to help with just about everything: from planning apps and virtual whiteboards, to communication and presenting tools. One good thing about the pandemic at least is the reduced office work paper trail!

Throughout the day, instant messaging provides a channel to ask niggling questions, or get a second opinion on that headline you’re not quite sure about. The informal nature of IM helps with a feeling of approachability – like calling over to the next desk. What could be more reassuring than a smiley face emoji?

Still, I’m really looking forward to getting back to Asgard HQ and throwing creative ideas around in a physical meeting room – the old-fashioned way.

One day in the not-so-distant future I can’t wait to have a drink with my workmates, meet clients face-to-face and get back to busy, creative, energetic, coffee-infused office life.

Until then, I’m making the most of showing up for work in my slippers.

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