Starting a new job in lockdown, one year on.

Katie and Ollie

Starting any new job brings a mix of emotions but throw in a global pandemic and working remotely 100% of the time, changes everything. Katie, Studio & Project Manager and Ollie, Software Engineer joined us one year ago today, 30th March 2020. I chatted to them about working remotely, juggling childcare and what they are looking forward to once the office re-opens.

What was it like starting a new job and working remotely?

O: It was really strange, I remember Joe dropping off my kit at the front door at the beginning of lockdown and setting it all up at home. I’ve worked from home in previous jobs but starting remotely was really different. I booked in informal chats to get to know everyone a little better, to remove that awkward ice breaker feeling. You lose all the natural opportunities for small talk that you’d get in the office environment, which is something we’ve had to learn to do online. Luckily the team is so friendly, relaxed and happy to help if you get stuck or want to talk something through.

K: It was completely unexpected, I had a 3 month notice period in my previous role so at the time I accepted the job I had no idea what was coming. Joe contacted me the week before to give me a heads up that everyone was working from home, and like a DPD driver left my computer on the doorstep. The online induction was really good and the team already had some good ways of working in place, I loved seeing everyone’s faces on the daily stand up and instantly got a warm welcome and relaxed vibe from the team. I was a bit sad that my aspirations of cycling to work and takeaway coffees at lunchtime were dashed, but something to look forward to.

What’s changed since you started last year?

O: We’ve created informal chat channels to share normal things like cat gifs and line of duty chat, and more recently we’ve been trying to recreate the office atmosphere online with Kumospace and Discord. I also love that everyone is passionate about their work – sharing new things, best practice, articles and news, it helps to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology.

K: We’ve improved our processes so much over the past year, we’ve integrated our digital tools and have added automation to streamline ways of working. It means I get notifications in slack for Asana and Google calendar which is super helpful. The lean methodology runs through the whole team at Rareloop, everyone is always tinkering to make things better. It’s a great mentality to have.

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What is the best bit about working remotely?

O: The flexibility and family time. There is a real family feel to Rareloop, lots of people have kids and everyone understands that and supports each other. I’ve been able to spend more time with my girls which has been great.

K: Getting my commuting time back, not having to travel to and from work means I don’t feel as rushed in the morning and have more time with my daughter before I start work.

What’s been tough about working in lockdown?

O: Working and living in the same space has been hard, it’s more difficult to switch off. I bought a standing desk, added some shelves and decorated my workspace to spruce it up. The standing desk is great as it stops the kids from playing with my computer.

K: When I started, my daughter’s nursery was closed so we were all home at the same time. Juggling childcare and work was stressful, but the empathy from the team really helped.

Have you met any of the team face-to-face yet?

O: Last summer I went wakeboarding with Isaac and I met Joe, Adam and Katie for a drink.

K: A few of us managed to get together for a socially distanced drink in the summer which was great. I can’t wait to meet everyone properly though. It’s not the same working from home all the time.

What are you most looking forward to when the office reopens?

O: Meeting the rest of the team and the office atmosphere. Cycling to work, and having that time to yourself to get ready for the day and then wind down at the end of the day before the bedtime routine.

K: Meeting people for the first time and getting to know everyone a bit better. I really miss the social side of working together so it’ll be nice to have a spontaneous chat without asking first. I also can’t wait to sample the local coffee shop brownies everyone keeps raving about!

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