As another week of remote working draws to a close and I ‘commute’ downstairs to my kitchen, it’s hard to believe how much our lives have changed over the past six weeks.
It was only five weeks ago that I joined Hudson Sandler as the new Head of People. Having accepted the role just two months prior, I was eager to join the agency in their swish new London office and get stuck into my new challenge. Little did I know what loomed ahead of us and what impact it was about to have on all our lives.
As my start date grew nearer, naturally I started to feel somewhat apprehensive about joining a new company at such an unpredictable and unsettling time. Would they still want or need me? How would I start a new role remotely? How would I get to know my new colleagues without stepping foot in the office? How would I manage to work at home with a young family whilst also trying to master home schooling? I wasn’t sure of the answer to any of these questions, but I tried to take comfort in the fact that I was joining as Head of People and, if anyone can join and onboard remotely, then surely an HR person can!
A few days before I was due to start, a call from a partner reassured me that they were still very much looking forward to having me on board and were in the process of planning my virtual induction. My IT equipment arrived via courier the following day and a simple IT log in pack and call with our Head of IT meant I was up and running from a tech perspective almost immediately.
My first week was intense, packed full of individual video meet and greets and virtual team meetings. I decided it was important to try and ‘meet’ as many of my new colleagues as possible and launched myself into a series of Zoom and MS Team inductions. I’ll admit, it got me thinking why we hadn’t embraced this software sooner? Within a couple of weeks, I’d managed to meet most of the new team virtually and was pleasantly surprised how easy it had been to start remotely when you’re determined to make it a success. The team’s flexible approach and mindset has enabled me to balance my part-time role (I have joined HS on three days a week) with the needs of my three young children, all stuck at home and demanding varying degrees of attention!
Five weeks on and I feel fully into the swing of Hudson Sandler life. Daily team calls ensure we’re all connected and up to speed on work across the agency. We’ve collaborated on numerous projects - including the launch of a new employee intranet this week and our Friday virtual drinks, weekly photo competition, virtual running and cookery clubs add some fun and light relief to a usually incredibly busy week.
Whilst it remains uncertain when this period of lockdown and social distancing will end, what is clear is that businesses and teams within them are adapting quickly. I feel extremely fortunate to have joined an agency which has embraced remote working almost overnight, whilst simultaneously striving to maintain the well-being and engagement of everyone in it. From on-boarding their new starter (aka me!) remotely, to running virtual training and development sessions, whilst also keeping HS life still very much alive (albeit from the comfort of our own homes), we have proven to ourselves that what we might have once thought impossible is now very much achievable.
We are embracing our new reality and who knows, hopefully some of these new and highly efficient ways of working will continue with us as we move forward and rebuild our new normality.