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What it’s like to start a job during lockdown? #1

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

It seems unthinkable that we have gone nearly a year without seeing many of our beloved colleagues in person. Like many other businesses, March 2020 and beyond was an extremely unsettling time. At the beginning of 2020, M.i. had decided to continue its growth trajectory and take on a number of new hires - all of whom were to join us from March onwards. The turbulence of many of our clients’ businesses, and therefore our own, made this time more challenging when it came to protecting our people – both old and new. Fortunately, a combination of creative thinking and agile planning have enabled our new starters to settle into remote working life at M.i.

Over the next three weeks we will share the stories of three new 2020 joiners: Rachel, Dorottya and Kush. In sharing their experiences, they hope to offer some advice and reassurance to those who may be going through similar new job anxieties.

By Rachel Richards

Digital Account Executive

Starting a new job is an exciting and nervous time but starting a new job during a global pandemic is terrifying!

I was so excited to get the job offer from M.i. Media, it was going to be the start of a new life for me involving, not only changing jobs, but also moving to London from Preston. I handed my notice in on my previous job and started making plans for my move, ready to start on 30th March 2020. It was then, that the UK Government announced a national lockdown, all non-essential businesses were to close, everyone was to work from home, not travel or mix with other households.

What was going to happen to my new job? How could I move? I was distraught! Then I had reassurance from M.i. Media that it would be okay. They still intended to let me start but would furlough me using the government’s scheme. The relief I felt was enormous, I wouldn’t need to move yet and would get an income. Then disaster - the furlough scheme wouldn’t cover me, so M.i. Media were going to have to rethink how, or if I was going to be able to start my job. The rollercoaster of emotions I went through during those few days were intense.

Thankfully, M.i. Media came up with a plan for me to carry out online training 2 days a week which meant that I had some money coming in and was gaining knowledge to help me in my new role. The uncertainty of what would happen was difficult to cope with but I always felt that M.i. Media would do their best to keep me on.

Over the next few weeks, we all got used to the ‘new normal’ and I gradually built up my knowledge through online learning. The number of days I worked was also increased as I was able to carry out some ‘real work’. It wasn’t easy for me; I am a people person and love interacting with people. One of the attractions of the job had been the friendly feeling I had got from the team during the interview process. It was very weird meeting everyone virtually, but I felt like I was able to build relationships with them, once I’d figured out how to unmute myself on MS Teams! The company made this easier by organising social events such as Zoom Bingo and an online games night where I played Settlers of Catan with some of the senior team and Clive (not that Clive will thank me for my involvement, as I may have cost him his win!).

As restrictions lifted, I was able to move to London with the hope that we would eventually be able to go back to work in the office. Although the online learning had been useful (minus some of the more dull online Google Ads certificates which every Digital Marketer must endure) I was ready and eager to learn more from the wonderful Biddable Team in person. Some training is just not the same, unless done in person, and therefore I was excited for the eventual trip into the office. When I was able to, I met up with some of the team face to face for the first time. It was a bit strange, as I felt like I knew them, but at the same time didn’t. Navigating names and putting faces to names was also interesting after months of speaking to MS bubbles. I also joined some of the team on a cycle ride from London to Brighton which was fantastic, a little tiring and very soggy!

The main bit of advice I could give to someone starting a job remotely, is although it’s all very strange trying to create relationships with people virtually, it can be done - you just need to be prepared to throw yourself into some initial awkwardness. I would also take advantage of any ‘organised fun’ as it definitely helps and please, please don’t be scared to ask any questions or to just ring someone up if you need help, as you would in a normal office environment.

I was very excited when we were eventually able to go to the office, although this proved to be short-lived as restrictions tightened up again. Despite all the uncertainty, if I could go back in time I would not change the decision I made.