Starting a new job in lockdown

Heidi Sanders

It’s natural to be nervous when starting a new job, but when you’re starting remotely, it’s a completely different ball game. Here, office administrator Heidi Sanders explains that while it’s not an ideal way to start at a new company, there can be benefits to this new way of working.


Starting a new job during a global pandemic while in lockdown at home is unusual to say the least.

And actually, when I was offered the chance to fill in for Hannah Woodward while she was on maternity leave, this wasn’t part of the plan.

In fact, I was to start at the beginning of 2021 once schools reopened and we were all optimistic that we would be back in an office environment (albeit socially distanced).

But this wasn’t to be!

With the start of the year turned on its head I realised I was going to have to get to grips with a new role and a new team – many of which I am yet to meet in the flesh – online.

I did have insights into remote working with my husband making a global role work via Teams, and I knew from my own business as a holistic therapist that consultations on Zoom can work well.

But there’s adapting to working from home in a role you know well already and then there is starting from scratch in a virtual setting.

As bonkers as I thought it might be, it really hasn’t been too bad, however.

A virtual handover

The handover and learning process was initially more a download of information and very much under time pressure - we had two weeks to cover all aspects of the role before Hannah left and we were very conscious her baby could make an appearance at any time!

Most of the process was done through multiple Skype calls where I was introduced to system training, and the detailed ins and outs of the role. Thank goodness for screen sharing which was a godsend in helping me to understand the internal Prominent systems.

Since then, my routine has not been so dissimilar to what I deem a normal day - logging onto all the systems and seeing what’s in store via the kitchen (to collect a peppermint tea), then onto Skype to type ‘Good morning!’ to the team. Even remotely Prominent is a very friendly, fun, connected team!

Having spent more than 15 years working in client services in London my skills are transferable, but the approach to getting things done now means learning old tricks in a new way, all based around tech.

There are serious benefits to this. Work definitely feels more instant. Rather than adding to a list something that pops into my head to pick up later with a colleague, I go straight to Skype and converse with the relevant person and within moments, my question is answered.

Part of the team

The admin role should be one of support and being visible to the Prominent team – but the boundaries of visibility have shifted to some degree based on the challenging times we find ourselves in.

As a result, I find myself in plenty of Skype chats and a scattering of video calls. Face-to-face time is not as frequent as it might be as I am not a project-based team member, but the levels of communication have not changed. I just miss seeing faces more regularly!

My once weekly trips to the office to collect the post and deal with facilities management are met with excitement for what might be… but the office is bare and a little bit sad! I do however get a sense of energy when I’m there imagining it full of the bright, fun and positive people I’ve met virtually. An office with ‘let’s party’ emblazoned across a wall can only be a great place to work, right? 

Culture is really important to me but all the things I’ve known about starting a new role with new people has taken a back seat for now; chats in the kitchen making a brew, Alexa duty, comparing packed lunches (I hear Adam’s lunches are awesome), Friday beer o’clock (not so good solo!), high fives and team hugs when we win work (will this be elbows and air kisses for a while?), and general banter putting the world to right.

Good culture makes a business thrive. Prominent has done a brilliant job keeping this alive remotely but I really can’t wait to meet everyone in 3D soon!

I’ve done it – and you can too

There are ups and downs to working from home but what my move has taught me is that it is possible to start a new job in lockdown – and to utilise tech to make the handover as simple as possible.

So finally, here are a few top tips for anyone taking on a similar role virtually during the unpredictable times we find ourselves in:

  • Make a cup of tea first thing – it might be a while before you get another one!
  • Think positively about what you want from your day – a little positivity goes a long way
  • Pick up the phone, send a Skype note, email, WhatsApp… communicate! This is crucial and key to good teamwork. It’s easy to crack on with your work and not see or speak to anyone
  • Don’t dwell, share your concerns – a problem shared really is a problem halved
  • Take a break from your screen. I have my printer on the other side of the room, so making me get up, walk and stretch my legs
  • Do not go anywhere without your mobile (except the loo!)
  • Never be without a pad of post-it notes
  • And… breathe

Share this article:share on twitter share on facebook