Mia Shukri|December 8, 2020

The Covid 19 pandemic has limited recruitment more than ever as we anticipate an economic recession and work harder to meet our targets. But for the few of us lucky enough to be recruited, how has a remote start affected our journey at Profusion? 

Let’s hear from Kim Wadden, Project Manager at Profusion, about her Lockdown recruitment experience. 

You joined during full lockdown, what was that like? 

I joined Profusion as a Project Manager in the first week of April 2020, three weeks into Lockdown One, just around when we were all starting to realise this was going to be more of a long-term situation than we originally thought. I’d never worked remotely before and was nervous about how well I would be able to build relationships with new colleagues and learn the ropes via the medium of Microsoft Teams.  

Eight months later (I’m writing this mid-Lockdown Two), I am pleased to know that those things are totally possible. While a global pandemic imposes certain challenges on working life, doesn’t a new job always bring new challenges? This was a totally new experience for everyone, which was sort of reassuring. 

My first couple of weeks were filled with one-on-one video calls for me to ‘meet’ my immediate colleagues, and the SLT. The calls were scheduled on my behalf by HR or my onboarding buddy for me to just rock up to. I really enjoyed these 30 minute intros, the format allowed me to get to know my new colleagues on more of an individual basis than I might otherwise have done in my first days. And the domestic setting, often featuring pets, partners and children, made for relaxed meetings. 

Having an onboarding buddy, one of my new team, was such an unexpected help while I was finding my feet in the first few weeks. Having dedicated time to ask questions, get familiar with my new role and just chat really helped me to feel settled and part of the team, where the experience of a new joiner in lockdown could so easily have disorientating, even lonely. Until I started in this role, I hadn’t given much thought to the onboarding process of a new team member, but a bit of thought and extra structure can go a long way.  

How have you been coping with remote working? 

While I jumped at the chance to start working from the office when lockdown restrictions were eased over the summer, I do feel like the teams I’m working with, and the company as a whole, have adapted really well to the ‘new normal’ of remote working. The famously fun company culture of pre-lockdown manages to shine through with art competitions, bingo, workouts, quizzes, pizza, pictionary, welcome lunches and virtual beer o’clocks. We’re kept up to date with weekly or twice-weekly Forums where news and social committee updates are shared. A Coffee Roulette algorithm, developed by our data team, helps combat isolation by pairing us up with colleagues at random for a ‘coffee break’ every week. Having all these organised initiatives to get involved with has really helped to reinforce the positive company culture, and have been especially great for me as a new starter to get to know my new colleagues! 

As a project manager (and a new one to the company at that), my biggest concern was how to achieve the cohesiveness and efficiency of office-based teamwork, in an online setting, and stave off isolation (of the team and myself). I’m thankful that I work in an industry geared for the digital world, so we didn’t have to contend with the giant technology infrastructure problem so many had to deal with. We had laptops, VPN, Teams and a whole suite of tools to help us communicate and manage work. It definitely requires a conscious effort to create the same sort of team dynamic as we might have had IRL, but daily team video calls and group chats have helped (don’t underestimate the power of a good gif or photoshop to improve communication and morale). I try to encourage videos on, both with teams and with clients, I think seeing people is helpful to maintain a human connection. As long-time remote workers have been trying to tell everyone for ever, working remotely and enjoying a great team dynamic aren’t mutually exclusive. 

It can still be tricky to ask for help when I’m struggling with a task. It’s not as easy to ask quick questions with colleagues when you’re not sitting next to them, it feels like more of an interruption to send an instant message. But actually, sending a ‘quick chat?’ message is always better than spending time worrying about how to do something on your own.  

Have you found any unexpected benefits to working from home? 

Apart from the commute savings?  

On the whole, enforced working from home has proved to employers that employees can be trusted to work productively at home. So one positive outcome is likely to be more flexible working from now on (part time in the office, part time at home) for those who would like the option. 

If now is not the time to ensure processes are audited, documented and followed, when is? With working hours maybe varying between team members more now, it’s all the more important to make sure collaborative documents are tidy and well organised. Good project housekeeping! 

Video call fatigue is real, so I try to make an effort to reduce screen time outside of work hours. A big unexpected benefit of lockdown living for me is the number of amazing parks, woodlands and coffee shops I’ve discovered within walking distance of my flat. I have lived in my area (North London, N9) for four years, and I just used to hop on the train to Stoke Newington, London Fields or Shoreditch at the weekends instead of exploring locally. For anyone else in London, I’d recommend checking out the London Greenground map – an alternative to the Underground map, linking up green spaces across the city – and Urban Good’s National Park City map of London, which is designed around green spaces and walking routes. 

Top WFH living tips 

Get outside every day! Going for a walk in the morning for some fresh air and daylight has helped me stay sane during busy days. See aforementioned discovering of green spaces.  

Do yoga! I’ve been a fan of Yoga with Adriene for a while, but I especially like that you can choose a yoga video by length depending on how much time you have, so no excuses not to fit in a 10 minute stretch.  

Stick to a routine! I can’t be the only one whose work day has been getting longer at home. A routine in the morning and evening helps to separate work and home. Easier said than done in small living spaces yes, but all the more important to pack up your working space to signal the end of the day. Also, Friday cocktails.  

Sleep! I discovered the Calm app recently which I like to use when things (work, the news, isolation) feel overwhelming. They have sleep stories narrated by soothing voices like Matthew McConaughey, Kelly Rowland, Stephen Fry and Cillian Murphy. 

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