As CHR continues to grow during the COVID 19 Pandemic and has been able to continue recruiting during this difficult time, one of it’s new recruits, Justine, shares her insight into starting a new job virtually and what it looks like six months down the line!

During COVID-19, I went through CHR’s interview process virtually and started my new role remotely. I was far from imagining that, 6 months later, I still would not have set foot in the office, nor that I would have gotten used to working at home and developed an undying love for working in sweatpants…

The lockdown was already well established when, from the comfort of my sofa, I decided to apply on the CHR website. The recruitment round was a two-stage process, each stage requiring the completion of a case study with a clear timeline and deadline submission. The stage two included a presentation of the second case study, followed by a live Q&A. Going through this interview remotely had its perks: no need to worry about finding the correct building/room on the day of the assessment, no need to debate too much on what to wear and plenty of comfort food and coffee within reach. The interview was thoroughly enjoyable, oriented as an interesting conversation around the case study, so much that at the end of the hour, I found myself hoping to spend more time chatting with my interviewers.

Once the interview was over, I found myself hired, but still in lockdown. As any hope of having my first day at the CHR London office was quickly wiped out, the extremely efficient CHR Operations team sent to my home a laptop along with a nice welcome pack. Thus, on a sunny Monday morning in May, wearing a semi casual top and my comfiest sweatpants, I found myself fully equipped and motivated for my first day of work. The first thing on my schedule was my HR induction, followed by meetings with my line and project managers as well as a surprise lunch with “my buddy” – a colleague of mine who was to become my go-to person in my first few months in the company. In order to make the onboarding of new employees as smooth as possible, CHR has put in place a two-week induction process. The time allocated allowed me to gradually be introduced to CHR’s standards and ways of working, along with getting familiar with my colleagues. The experience was rewarding, and at the end of these two weeks, I felt ready to dedicate myself fully to the two different project teams that I had been assigned to.

As my work routine gradually fell into place, I was afraid of falling into the triptych of “autonomy, isolation, fatigue”. Working remotely offers the ability to have a flexible schedule, but if not careful, it can lead to a blurring of the boundary between work and private life. CHR are aware of this, and during my first months of work, emphasis was put on my wellbeing; my colleagues as well as the HR team regularly checking in with me and asking if anything could be improved to ensure that I was happy in my new role. It turns out, I am not a fantastic time-manager when it comes to working remotely, but I flagged this with my project and line managers and they helped me to overcome this by advising me to set up clear boundaries and how to effectively manage crunch times.

Where time management is an art, communication is key, and the two go hand in hand. From the start, I was encouraged to communicate as much as possible with my colleagues; from discussing work to sharing a virtual lunch together. We even have a “remote new starter” mutual support group, where every newcomer can discuss any issues that arise or just message for a chat. Finally, CHR also developed several virtual social activities to keep in touch, all highly informal. Little by little, I found myself putting on my webcam a little more, showing my cat to my colleagues, laughing and participating in jokes: that was it, I belonged, and it was easier than anticipated.

Joining CHR remotely worried me as I was afraid of missing the chitchat around a coffee and I dreaded the relations with colleagues using Microsoft Teams only, thinking that they would be much more formal than in person. It turns out, CHR made me feel valued from day one, my colleagues made sure that my integration into the projects went as smoothly as possible and I found myself taking a liking to working remotely. As my new normal is settling in, I now own an impressive number of comfy clothes, have scheduled breaks in my work routine, and I know that it can only get better when I finally get to meet everyone in person when the time comes.