I joined Fresh Financials on 16th March 2020 and had just two days in the office before the doors were closed for a national lockdown.
I was intending to write a blog about returning to the office after Lockdown and a period of home working – but here we are in ‘Lockdown 2.0’!
Fresh Financials have not returned to the office since March but we all have everything crossed that life will return to something a little more like the ‘old normal’ in the New Year.
So instead I want to share my experience of starting a new job in Lockdown and building a working relationship while continuing to work from home.
Learning a new job at home required great systems and processes
I have 2 school age children who, like me, suddenly found themselves at home. Like a lot of people across the world, the unchartered territory of this situation was a little daunting to say the least. However my concerns about starting a new job amidst all this uncertainty quickly eased. I’m feeling very lucky to have joined an incredibly supportive company who really do want the best for everyone.
Having great systems and processes in place made all the difference to how easily we were able to adapt, especially as a new starter (who would have been new to the Fresh Financials way regardless).
Naturally, Fresh Financials had established processes in place for client management, notes and information which we all have access to. Not to mention of course we live in a digital age where we have a range of options: emails, social media apps and various record keeping and communication programmes to choose from. This means it’s easy for the team to collaborate on work wherever we are – in the home office, at the kitchen table, in the kids playroom, from the cupboard under the stairs.
Alongside Xero, Fresh financials use a range of tools that work brilliantly to keep us on top of what’s needed for each client individually, from daily tasks and quarterly VAT returns along with process notes where needed. All of this ensures each client’s needs are being catered for by the whole team.
Zoom has been a great platform to use for interactive learning. Lucy set up a number of training sessions to support me with each client including me simply watching her work giving a great insight to how Fresh Financials approaches each client.
The ‘new normal’ meant I couldn’t simply turn my head to ask a question or call someone over to see what I was looking at. In the early days I emailed the team a summary of all the clients I worked on during the day with a brief explanation and anything I thought noteworthy. This enabled them to check my work and give further training where needed.
The team have been fabulous in the way they’ve supported me. I really feel we work well together, and it is reassuring to know they’re just at the end of the phone if I have any concerns (which we all do from time to time).
It’s not all about work! The workplace is also about building relationships
How do you build a friendly working relationship from home?
Again, this felt a little daunting but I am so pleased to say my concerns were unnecessary.
Right from the start Emma, our founder, ensured groups were set up on WhatApp for the whole Fresh Financials team and our sub-teams, so we could keep in touch.
WhatsApp has been great for snippets of conversation where we’d would normally just turn to ask a question had we been in the office – we share jokes, work related questions and simply wish each other a nice weekend.
Zoom has also been great for our regular catch-up meetings, either with our sub-teams or all of Fresh Financials. We’re all involved in discussing the week ahead and we’re updated with any new developments both in work and in our personal lives.
It’s been great getting to know people in this way. Seeing colleagues in their home has possibly made the whole experience more human – Seeing Lucy’s cat sniff the camera during a meeting or Zoe’s youngest daughter cruising around the furniture. Clare seems to have a range of working options available, I love seeing where she’s working each time we log on for our team catch-ups (I feel like I have a tour of her house!). We get to see sides of each other we wouldn’t necessarily see when we’re working in the office.
Some of the personal highlights we have shared range from engagements, weddings, family achievements and new puppies, to what veg we’ve been growing, or what room we’re painting this weekend. These have all helped build a working relationship even though we’re sitting miles apart.
I’m sure that when we’re back in the office the relationships will continue to evolve and no doubt I may even have some ‘first day’ nerves. It’s possible that some, if not all of us, may have concerns after such a long time, if nothing else it will be a shift in routine again. Judging by how the last few months have progressed the support will be there from everyone for everyone.
If I can do it, you can too
With employment situations changing rapidly, there will be a large number of people starting a new job at home. Your new employer has taken a decision to crack on with the new normal, they and their team are ready to welcome and support you.
Starting a new job and working from home may seem daunting at first, but remember we’re all human, even your new employer, we all have worries!
This most unusual of situations we have found ourselves in, has shown me that we can take on a challenge, a challenge that perhaps we would never have normally put ourselves up for.