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Starting a new job in lockdown

starting a new job in lockdown

-By Ruth-Beth Jackson, Principal Consultant-

If lockdown has taught us one thing, it has been to adapt. We have had to familiarise ourselves with a new way of life where employment is concerned. I “sat down” (in the new 2020 way – many metres apart) with a few of my key clients who have experienced the ins and outs of starting, and keeping a new job during the lockdown.

New job in lockdown

Job Title: Head of Operations

What was it like starting a job in lockdown and a pandemic?

Having to transition from pre COVID-19 where you are in the office 100% of the time and the luxury of direct contact with partners and staff etc. to more or less nothing leaves you feeling isolated.

I was nervous but also excited to be one of the lucky ones to start a role during a pandemic. Having not had the office environment for so long, going back into an environment where 80% of the office was still in lockdown further cemented the new process I was involved in. 

What was your induction like?

My induction was mixed as I started the last week in July; most of the team was off so I got to go in for the entire induction. I had the choice of staying at home but I made the conscious decision to go in to do it.

It was myself and two or three other people in the office who had to uphold social distancing, no handshaking or anything like that, so it seemed quite cold. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to work remotely but wanted to be in to interact with the team on the different days they were in and build a bond that way.

How have you found getting to know your team? 

I had to take it slow, take a step back, draw on my empathy skills and get to know what worked. The task was getting a team that was working remotely for the last 6 months back into an office environment and set the standards right from the outset. 

What have you found has been the best way to stay in contact with your team?

To allow everyone to feel most comfortable, there is a rota in place to accommodate for those who come into the office and those who cannot. We set up weekly meetings with the entire team, but it is not always easy.

Sometimes, people do not want to show their face or be on camera. Nevertheless, beyond the unfamiliarity of virtual team meetings, I find Zoom meetings, Mobile conversations and face to face where possible but not too often is best – you do not want to cross the line of familiarity or annoyance.

What about the social side?

Before I started this role, I was quite lucky as I kept in touch with many of my past colleagues; we met online, where I would learn new current housing knowledge from them. When I started this role, my immediate team and I would play games on the organisation, e.g. values. I wanted everyone to be involved, as we couldn’t really do much more. That helped with the social side of things.

Do you feel like you missed out on some aspects of starting a new job that you would have gotten had you been in the office?

Not really, just because I was constantly learning: CIH, Inside Housing, Housing Federation, kept me informed of things, also speaking with other housing professional friends. This then allowed me to help others in the organisation when I started. 

Are you phasing back into the office yet?

We are! We have it mixed where there are some days working from home and some back in the office; it is a small team and small office so we still have a rota system in place. We value interaction with staff so hope to keep the office open as long as allowed. 

New job in lockdown

Neighbourhood Operations Manager

What was it like starting a job in lockdown and a pandemic?

It felt weird not meeting anyone in person, having a laptop delivered to the door, but this was our new normal.

What was your induction like?

I had a planned induction, some training was group wide and some that was specifically for me, but it was all planned. Of course, this was all via Zoom or Teams. 

How have you found getting to know your team? 

It felt strange at first just getting to know the team through Microsoft Teams, but now I feel like I know them. It really is all about having more communication and planning the time as opposed to being in the office and having the luxury of walking up to your teams.

What have you found has been the best way to stay in contact with your team?

I found Microsoft teams to be the easiest way but I have started meeting up with a few of my team for coffee. Once they are comfortable, of course.

Do you feel like you missed some aspect of starting a new job that you would have gotten had you been in the office?

It would be the social things of building a relationship with colleagues like going for a coffee or lunch together, or going to the printer and meeting someone there, it is the little things, really.

What about the social side of after work with your team?

Honestly, I didn’t really do the social side of things, wouldn’t really go out for drinks or anything of the sort. However, I did enjoy the Zoom games and small catch-ups, they were enough for me.

Are you phasing back into the office yet?

We are only in the office when it comes to work needs. The Head of Department decides but this has to be agreed on a person-by-person basis. E.g. If you have documents to print, a real need to be in the office.


Our new working life reality

2020 has developed a new normal for lots of areas of our lives, the working world included. The recruitment process has undoubtedly changed from physically meeting hiring managers, to settling in virtually to a new job.

The housing industry in general were advocates for remote working pre Covid so the logistics of having laptops, Teams, Zoom etc were perhaps simpler to work with and adapt to than some other areas, but what these technological advances can’t replace is the human interaction and workplace social circle we all develop and crave. 

If you are thinking of applying for a new job or starting a job during this unprecedented time, I would be keen to help you with any guidance needed.  You can reach out to me over email Ruth-Beth.Jackson@oysterpartnership.com or by calling the office on 020 7766 9000.


The Author…

Ruth-Beth Jackson

Principal Consultant, Housing Management

Ruth joinedOyster Partnership in Oct 2016 straight out of her master’s degree. Since then she has never looked back. Ruth has worked hard over the years and has moved her way up in the Housing Management Team. She has developed new skills and abilities, and has gained an immense amount of knowledge and respect within the Social Housing recruitment world.


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