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  • Emma O'Loan

Starting in design when working from home: Emma's first week at Hydrogen

Starting work from home

Like many people, these past few months have brought a lot of challenges and changes to my everyday life. At the beginning of lockdown I was baking banana bread and fancying myself as the next Mary Berry, fast forward five months and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend this past week getting to grips with my first graduate job as a junior designer, with the added task of working 9-5 from home finding my feet ‘remotely’.

After being given the opportunity of an interview, I frantically Googled interview tips and was met with advice like “have a firm handshake”, “engage in positive body language” and “wear appropriate shoes” which was no help when you’re doing it over Zoom. I had to guess how it would go and hope that my camera and microphone would work, triple checking to see if I had clicked the right link. Thankfully, with my whiteboard geared up with some notes I made it through my first online interview without issue.

After a round of interview presentations, I was given the good news that I was successful. It was amazing timing! Now was the challenge of setting up my work from home ‘office’, since my couch wouldn’t end up sufficing.

I had to kit out my WFH ‘office’ with some important supplies, which included making a road trip to meet Hydrogen’s Managing Director Mike at a service station halfway between my home and Glasgow. iMac and Hydrogen goodies in the boot, I was ready to settle in to working life.

Emma's working from home set-up

The perk of this predicament is that I’m able to work from home, even though I’m two hours away from the office! Instead of a hidious commute to begin with and needing a small loan for coffee and train tickets, I’ve thankfully only had to take a short walk down the stairs and have had lattes galore from my own kettle.

My first day was filled with meetings and tasks to get me familiarised with the team and the clients I would be working with. Getting to grips with the software I would be using on a daily basis and learning about the brand guidelines I would eventually memorise (hex codes are now burned into my mind for quick access).

Throughout the week I was introduced to more of the team. I’ve waved at the screen more times than I can count and the odd awkward pause waiting for a response has been a learning experience. I think I took for granted how much real-life socialisation helps form bonds and friendships even in the first few days. Thankfully through various messages, video calls and the like, the team have all given me a warm welcome and communicating via GIFs has been a highlight.

By the end of my first week I was into the swing of things, trying my hand at different client work throughout the week helped gave me experience of a range of things I would be working on going forward.

Navigating the work folders was an interesting challenge. Being on the design team, we rely on files being uploaded since we’re working from home. Although WFH has a lot of perks, it also meant I would have to wait for things that would ideally take seconds if we were in office. Instead of going and asking for assets, I would wait for that little reply notification, detailing the exact path I would take to navigate to a file on the server, like a treasure hunt. If WFH was not in place, my teammates could have pointed to it on my screen. But if anything, it’ll strengthen my investigative skills.

I’m sure going into the office will be like starting my first day all over again, but even then, it will be a different experience. Social distancing still in place, things will change for everyone in the office, but I’m thankful for the fact we’re still able to work through this time.

Although this isn’t how I expected to start my first job, it certainly has been an experience and one I’m very grateful for. From sitting on my couch making sure it was acceptable enough for that first interview, to missing a call from Mike because I was too busy building my new WFH setup, it’s been an experience I’m likely not to forget and I’m looking forward to seeing how unfit I am climbing the stairs to the office.


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