A new starter in a remote world
Your first day at a new job is the result of a lot of planning and hard work, but ultimately, it’s a challenge that you have prepared yourself for. What you’ve (most likely) not prepared for, is a pandemic that means you’re required to settle in over Zoom!
My first day as a Project Manager at Manifesto was in mid-March, by which point it was clear that Manifesto had given some serious thought to supporting the company should we all need to work from home.
While I was picking up my laptop for the first time, others were arranging to take their entire set up home. I was fortunate to meet some of the team in the studio that week, and grateful for the support of our COO, and my Line Manager Conrad, who made sure I was well set up for home working with regular check ins to voice any challenges.
Had this been any usual start to a new job, you’d be pretty worried about packing up your desk the same week you started!
I have to admit, working from home didn’t come as a complete surprise to me, I’d done reading about the global situation spread prior. But the moment of understanding the bigger picture impact on the economy and society was still a huge realisation.
Maybe the fact that I didn’t get settled in the studio was a blessing, I didn’t have time to get attached! So there I was setting up again shortly after day one, but this time in my communal space downstairs at home.
I feel it’s so important to keep as much of a divide as possible between work and home life, and also stick to your regular routine. I didn’t have time to create a new work routine, so I stuck to my previous one.
We’re all looking forward to when we can get back to normal, but that will come with a shocking alarm if your Tuesday morning’s look like your Saturday’s!
First thing’s first, get to know the team…
This is where I was grateful for having studied psychology. One of the biggest challenges could have been the lack of working relationships that I had established in comparison to a team that have mostly been there a long time (kudos Manifesto). But although I was new, this situation was new to everyone. We’re in the same boat, and that’s a common experience I share with them which helped me to connect.
I made it a focus to familiarise myself with my immediate team, but also share my voice and my personality. Building this familiarity would make me more approachable rather than my team being apprehensive about how they involve me in the project.
I wouldn’t usually suggest video calling team members on a regular basis as appropriate behaviour, but this is different.
Am I doing ok?
There’s a lot to be said for non-verbal communication. It’s tricky to know how you’re progressing when comms are through email and calls. Conrad and I have set myself OKRs (objectives and key results) to work towards which have helped me a lot by providing focus and direction.
It’s not unknown that people are feeling challenged with the amount of calls in their diaries, making it difficult to dedicate long periods of time to concentrate on one thing. I don’t think there’s a framework that will work for everyone, so I’ve felt reassured that at Manifesto we are trusted to make the changes we feel are necessary, to create a working cadence that suits us on an individual level.
It’s all about the people
I’ve learnt pretty quickly that at Manifesto it’s about the people. We have truly supportive processes that are in place to put us, and our families first. From a wellbeing survey to a music mashup quiz, one-to-one check ins and company discussions, they really do have all bases covered to get us through this together.
The time we tried to play Quiplash!
From a people-first agency to a caring one, whilst individual actions speak very loud, Manifesto has clearly established itself in a way that has enabled these positive actions of support. They mobilised quickly and have continuously made improvements to optimise processes and experience whilst making me feel welcome.
This has highlighted that for those who previously felt unable to work from home, given the correct support and flexibility, it’s something that is now a possibility. We can look at the use of the studio with a fresh face and new possibilities.
But overall, it’s the individuals and our team that have shown a level of respect and care to make this work.
Be thankful, and trust in yourself
For new starters, trust yourself and the skills you have been hired for. You will have trust and support.
People are power and king, immerse yourself as much as you can with your team, but also take some time to learn about yourself too. Asking each other how they are, beyond a ‘yeh I’m fine’ has become a lot easier, we have become more genuine versions of ourselves.
We will come out of this with a shared experience, a shared pain, and from this we will find new respect for one another.
And if you are well, if your family and loved ones are well, be grateful if you are still able to work, because in this current time that is really a blessing.