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  • Sophie Keir

Starting a job when working from home: Sophie's first week at Hydrogen


Earlier this month, I graduated from university. Like a lot of graduates, I was eagerly refreshing job sites whilst simultaneously feeling like the recruitment world had taken a rain-check on the class of 2020. With the uncertainty of how or when things would start picking up, I was chuffed to hear back from Hydrogen about an open position after previously applying for an internship at the agency.

The interview excitement was quickly met with questions on how to navigate video interviews, mostly how to dress for the occasion? Which corner of my house seemed interview friendly? How do I work Microsoft Teams?

Swapping in-person for on-screen did have minor drawbacks, namely nonverbal cues and trying to make a good impression virtually. As someone who uses their hands a lot in conversation, it took forward thinking to find the right camera shot.

Following my video call, I learned interviews from home come with some perks. Having notes to refer to at your leisure, almost no chance of being late, not to mention the option of slippers (and any other home comforts) … it was a favourable experience!

After accepting the job offer, the quirks of getting a new job amidst a worldwide pandemic became apparent. T-3 days before starting I had my first socially distanced meet with Mike, Managing Director of Hydrogen, who set me up with some necessities. How many people can say their new boss popped round before their first day? All be it outside and from a 2m distance.

Come Saturday, I could not wait any longer to get my WFH desk setup… fail to prepare or prepare to fail? This saw me logging in to my emails for the first time, where I was greeted with an influx of meeting invites. Eek! I should have waited till Monday.

Opening my emails for the second time on Monday morning, I was met with a much more inviting message. The group at Hydrogen HQ prepared me with a document of the team intros. This allowed me to put a face to the name, find out individual strengths and who worked alongside which clients. More importantly, I got some inside scoop of the office - guilty pleasures, nicknames and who has the best (or worst) taste in food and music.

Day one of the job consisted of virtually meeting the team and getting to know which clients I would be working with. Despite the strange circumstances of meeting your colleagues online, doing it from the comfort of your home brings a certain level of calmness. Removing first week nerves like not knowing where to go for lunch and getting public transport 30 minutes earlier than necessary ‘just in case’. Or is that just me?

I quickly learned starting a new job remotely magnifies simple tasks. With each video meeting came a new tool to learn, app to download or site to login too. Whilst these tasks are seemingly small, distance learning meant overviewing these platforms through screenshare and acting accordingly after each call. This process allowed me time to familiarise myself with each site but seemed to eat up my time between calls.

Among virtually meeting colleagues and receiving the lowdown on Google Sheets I spent my time getting familiar with clients, checking out competitors and running through reports. I also got stuck in with some research, Pinterest and Google News were my go-to for inspiration for future content plans… all whilst drinking copious amounts of caffeine. Another perk of starting a job working from home has been the opportunity to refine my barista skills before the dreaded office coffee run. I hear the Hydrogen team take their cuppas seriously!

By the end of the week, I had met almost all my new coworkers. Though it was strange being introduced to my colleagues virtually, you quickly get used to it. Video calls gave me opportunity to get to know individuals on a one-to-one basis, something that I may not have a chance to do so quickly in an office setting.

Any other conversations took place on Microsoft Teams Chat, which allowed me to ask questions in an informal setting. The millennial in me has been practicing for this since the MSN days, a welcome contribution to my first week that helped me find my feet and relax into the role.

Being such unique circumstances, there has been a consensus of added difficulty to show me the ropes and experience the Hydrogen culture that is imperative to the team. However, my well mapped out first week and reassurance from the team that the door is always open meant I did not miss out on the usual welcome package. Even better, the contrast of starting something new from somewhere familiar brought ease to my week.

The strangest part of the experience so far has been pinching myself every morning that this is real, there is a sense of being incognito that comes with being behind a screen. I found myself wondering what it will be like when time comes for my first day in the Hydrogen office. Where will I sit? Will I survive walking up two flights of stairs everyday after being on the sofa all lockdown? Less conventional thoughts such as wondering how tall my coworkers are.

I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to join such a dynamic team and look forward to entering the Hydrogen office when it is safe to re-open. Meeting my colleagues on day one of the ‘new normal’, where morale will be at an all-time high, is something I look forward to. Until then, I will be taking full advantage of my morning commute from my bedroom to my hallway.