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31 December 2020

What I Learned Starting A New Job Under Lockdown

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Starting a new role can be daunting, but what about starting a new role under lockdown? Our Community and Events Fundraiser, Tu Edwards, did just that. Here she shares her experience and some of the things she’s learned along the way.

I joined NHS Lothian Charity in May 2020, a month or so after lockdown started.

I had this great plan about catching up with everyone over the first couple of weeks, getting loads of reading and research done, completing all my induction modules, etc. etc. – fairly standard stuff. I’d also set out different events and activities I could organise to meet and engage volunteers and supporters and had great plans of how I was going to do that. But none of that took a global health crisis and a resulting lockdown into consideration!

Joining an NHS charity during lockdown meant that I was immediately thrust into our COVID-19 Appeal, supporting our fundraisers, keeping on top of incoming donations, and ensuring our stewardship processes were still working as they should with such an increase in activity.

To be honest, that was all fine, a quicker baptism of fire than I was expecting but fundraising is my background and I know how to do that, and do that well, but it’s all those other things that go alongside starting a new role that add an extra layer of complexity when you then unexpectedly start that new job from home! Simple things like, how do I collect my laptop, how do I log on to the system, where are all the files saved, what are the protocols for using Teams…. all become a much more difficult task when you can’t just shout over a desk!

To say it’s been a whirlwind doesn’t even begin to describe it – lots of highs, some lows, peaks of adrenaline, then moments of low motivation and focus, but overall, a positive experience that has taught me some things about myself that I’d maybe never considered before. So here are my top three takeaways:

I don’t need to print nearly as much stuff as I thought I did!

Old habits die hard but not having direct access to a printer has taught me how to adapt to a paperless environment. It’s not been easy and it has been particularly challenging retraining my brain to proof read on screen but it’s becoming more natural now that I’ve done it for a while.

I am actually really resilient

If I had the choice, this is definitely not the way I would start a new job! However, I tried not to let the fact that I was starting under lockdown faze me and I made a conscious effort to do what I could to thrive in this new, challenging environment, treating each day as a new learning experience. I also had to quickly let go of the frustration I felt at not achieving the things I wanted to when I first started, and replace this with a sense of pride in the other things that I’d managed to achieve instead. These were different times and they required me to adopt a different approach. It really made a difference to me to focus more on the possibilities and the solutions rather than the problems.

Just because I’m working on my own, doesn’t mean I’m alone

I think out of everything, I am most grateful for the people I work with. I was warmly welcomed by everyone from day one and, whilst it’s definitely not the same as working in the same office, there is an amazing support network in place. I am actually quite used to working autonomously, just getting my head down and getting on with things, but I love company and lockdown gave me a real feeling of being separate and isolated from everyone and everything. However, I knew that, if I needed it, a friendly face and a voice of reason was just a video call away! There were also daily check ins to keep that social nature of office working going, as well as a weekly meeting to keep up to date with what was going on in the wider organisation; those small updates that you share when making your tea in the kitchen, but lose when you’re working from home for such a prolonged period of time. Without a doubt, there was a real focus on wellbeing, and that was hugely appreciated.

I know a lot of people work in remote teams and start new jobs from a home office, but that wasn’t what I was expecting to do so it was not an experience I was necessarily prepared for. It has been an interesting experience to say the least, not always easy, but I’ve been so fortunate to have been made feel so welcome and to have felt that I have managed to contribute something positive from day one.

I keep thinking, if this had been a question at the interview, I’m not sure how I would have answered it, but one thing’s for sure, I don’t think I would have come up with the points above.

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