Thinking back to how we saw ourselves graduating, it certainly wasn’t like this. We pictured celebrating in a cap and gown, and then when we started our first job, standing on a stuffy tube on the way back from after work drinks at the end of the first week. It didn’t quite go like that… at all!
Starting a graduate job, we imagine is challenging at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic when you’re forced to navigate this huge change while sitting at home in your makeshift office.
This exciting – and let’s face it – terrifying process of starting a job feels so alien when you’re meeting your colleagues via Z and having a virtual tour of an office you won’t be in for another six (or more) months.
Starting a job in London comes with the expectation of travelling to and from work every day, grabbing lunch with your colleagues and building new friendships. Current reality is that you wake up knowing you won’t be leaving your house to go into the big city.
We’ve compiled a list of problems you might come across when working from home, from technology and WiFi, to the struggles of being in the same place every day. Think of it as your guide to overcoming the struggles of working from home…
1. Not having your colleagues right next to you
Got an urgent question? Unsure what you’re doing? Communicating suddenly becomes much harder when you’re not sitting next to your colleagues. Staying active on work social channels like Slack and Teams, or dropping someone a message on WhatsApp when you’re feeling confused; using every channel you can is the only way to know what’s going on and keep up to date when you aren’t in the office.
2. WiFi, WiFi, WiFi…
Not a day goes by without a technical difficulty – that seems to somehow always occur during an important meeting – where you’re suddenly, awkwardly frozen on Zoom. How is it in 2020 we’re still having technical difficulties?! Luckily, those more equipped to understand this type of technology have created hotspots and WiFi extenders to make it a little easier for us. Plus, everyone on your team has experienced this problem at least once, so dropping them a message to let them know will relieve a bit of stress!
3. Staying social
We all love time on our own, but when that becomes all day every day, it can make you feel disconnected from the people around you, especially when trying to get to know new colleagues. Pushing yourself to get involved in everything your company does (we do a cook club, mindfulness session once a week and a daily crossword club) will keep you feeling a part of the community and give you some much needed social time.
4. Creating an office environment
Whether you’re lucky enough to have a separate room for an office or your only option is the communal living room where your parents or housemates are also juggling working from home, it’s important to create a space where you can focus. Find yourself a comfortable chair to sit on or buy a new desk to work at. Create an environment which allows you to work to your most effective and efficient self.
5. Leave your house!
It’s easy to let your first week go by before you realise that the only time you left the house was when it was already dark – not the healthiest approach! Make an active effort to go out for a walk in the mornings when you’d normally be commuting and (when the weather permits!) eat lunch outside to give yourself a much-needed break from the same four walls.
Expectation vs Reality
Starting a new job in a pandemic has definitely been a learning experience, one that we will never forget. The best thing about it all, and something you should always remember, is that colleagues will be truly supportive. Whether it’s your manager or members of your team, everyone will make an effort to answer any question you have as a new starter. And, for those that joined a company together like us, ultimately, this is a bonding experience – a strange (but amazing) way to start new friendships amidst a pandemic!
It doesn’t matter that everything isn’t as perfect as you (or we) hoped – it is still a very important first step on the career ladder. At the end of the day, working from home means spending less money on commuting, avoiding rush hour and learning to adapt to situations that you would never normally face. And everything that feels hard right now will become a joke over a glass of wine at the pub one day!
Authored by Beth Lewis & Kirsty Young, Graduates on our Healthcare Team