Lessons from starting a new job during a pandemic

Lessons from starting a new job during a pandemic

Starting a new job is an exciting but daunting prospect for anyone, but starting a new job remotely is certainly not how I expected to launch my career in PR, writes Hannah McManus. Having spent the best part of nine months working entirely from home, it’s safe to say I have definitely learnt some lessons in how to get the best out of what has been a challenging but highly rewarding experience.

The importance of communication

As you would expect when joining a team of comms professionals, the importance of clear and frequent communication has been drilled into me, and this has been the most important practice to stay on top of. FSC is diligent in scheduling in regular agency-wide, account team and individual Zoom catch ups, and while it might not be quite the same as face-to-face interaction, these regular check-ins have been crucial in helping me learn the ropes and get to know my colleagues.

Equally, WhatsApp has proved to be a key tool in keeping up with day-to-day agency life, whilst knowing that help is only a phone call away has been reassuring when I’ve had questions or concerns.

Learning in unexpected ways

Joining the agency on the cusp of last year’s autumn lockdown, with venues shut for a further four months in the New Year, meant getting to grips with the ins and outs of the industry proved challenging. Hospitality is an industry built around experiences and occasions and these just weren’t taking place, but in the long run this actually proved to be an invaluable learning experience.

While I wasn’t able to get out and experience the sector for myself, the values, motivations and spirit of the hospitality industry were clear to see as operators and businesses fought their way through lockdown. Although the circumstances have of course been far from ideal, this has taught me that it’s always possible to learn in unexpected ways.

The small details

Being away from the office means I haven’t been able to listen into colleagues’ conversations about what they’re working on – usually a great way to learn new terminology or work processes I need to be aware of. Instead, working remotely has fine-tuned my skills in paying close attention to detail in the written word.

The FSC team are great at keeping everyone in the loop – ensuring I haven’t missed out on any crucial information relating to my accounts. Zoning in on the specific language my colleagues use has given me plenty to digest, and reinforced just how much you can learn from paying attention to small details.

Culture is key

Culture is an important element of any workplace, and this was something I was expecting to feel somewhat disconnected from during working remotely – after all, it’s difficult to immerse yourself in a culture when you’re physically apart! I needn’t have worried, as this is an area FSC excel in. From the very start, I have been part of the agency’s internal People and Culture Team, which helped embed the company’s culture in those first few weeks and months.

Sending out gifts to each member of the team during lockdown was also a turning point in learning everyone’s names and faces – this can be quite challenging when you only have small boxes on Zoom to work with! The work FSC put into keeping spirits high with virtual socials throughout lockdown taught me to be open-minded when it came to settling into a new workplace and building relationships, and I quickly realised that remote working doesn’t mean workplace culture has to be neglected.

So, while my first few months on the job may not have been conventional, I’m now armed with the skills and experience I need to tackle face-to-face interactions and life back in the office.

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