I recently started working at Westcon-Comstor as a Digital Content Specialist in the Central Marketing Team. Under the current economic conditions and with so many businesses closing down because of the pandemic, I am so grateful to have found this job – especially one that is rooted in a global team with great prospects. When I tell people I’ve just started a new job, their first question is often: “What’s it like to start a new remote job during COVID?” Here’s my experience of onboarding during the pandemic.
The first day
I joined the company at the beginning of November 2020 during lockdown in South Africa. Our restrictions had been relaxed a little, but we were still urged to work from home, wear masks in public, socially distance, and visiting friends and family was ‘highly discouraged’.
I was apprehensive about my first day. I had the usual ‘new job’ nerves but there was added anxiety about how I would onboard without someone nearby to whom I could ask questions. I wondered what it would be like to start work without a welcoming open-office environment.
I went to the deserted Johannesburg office to meet with HR and collect my laptop and equipment. We sat two metres apart as I filled in paperwork and got accustomed to the tools available to me on my work laptop. Luckily, Westcon-Comstor is a global company and are well equipped for remote working so I was set up and ready for my first virtual team meeting that afternoon.
The first three months
During my first three months, I spent a lot of time in virtual meetings with my teammates and manager. Getting to know my colleagues was difficult over video calls but this was overcome through our weekly team check-in calls where we play games and chat about anything from what’s good on Netflix to American politics.
Being behind a screen for extended periods of time while going from one meeting to the next took some adjustment. I’ve since learnt to space meetings out and to be selective about what meetings are essential versus those that can be managed over email.
In South Africa, we have the added challenge of working from home with load-shedding (scheduled power outages to reduce excessive load on the electricity grid), and with COVID-19 protocols in place, it makes finding an alternative place to work while the power’s out even more difficult.
Despite these challenges, the first few months went smoothly. Why? Because of people. Westcon-Comstor has a team of exceptionally helpful and supportive people, and no questions are too trivial nor requests too onerous. In a virtual workplace, it can be challenging to collaborate as a team or to brainstorm ideas, but our team comes together as if there are no boundaries separating us.
I have adjusted to the new way of working and the new culture that comes with it. But while I’m slowly getting to know my colleagues over Teams, I can’t wait to meet them in an office once the pandemic is over.
Are you starting a new job remotely? Here are some tips to make it go smoothly:
If you’re looking for a new job and are keen to join a winning team with great perks, browse Westcon-Comstor’s latest job opportunities on our LinkedIn page or join our talent network.