Fresh starts

by Jules Gray – Jan 27, 2021

Friday 24th May 2019 marked the end of an era. After three turbulent years, Theresa May  tearfully  announced  she would be stepping down as British Prime Minister on the steps of 10 Downing Street. At the same time, a little over a mile away, an equally significant departure was taking place at Drury House: I was bidding farewell to my colleagues at Wardour for what I assumed was the last time. 

The reason for my departure isn’t interesting*, but 18 months later I find myself starting a new role back here at Wardour. The last 18 months have been pretty strange for me, but of course the last year has been unprecedented for the whole world. 

The economic aftershocks from the pandemic mean many people face having to search for new jobs and start anew, myself included. And for those fortunate enough to secure a new role, the usual ways of settling in aren’t possible due to lockdown. 

Learning the ropes 

Starting a new job is tough at the best of times. Working out where everything is in the office and how everything works – without bombarding colleagues with endless questions – can also be tough. You don’t want to annoy them by asking obvious questions about where the stationary cupboard is or how the coffee machine works. 

But there are other challenges too. Getting to know your new colleagues takes time. Not every colleague is the same, so you need to work out who is responsible for what and how to handle different characters. This can often be best achieved by silently observing things over your first few days. But working from home and only interacting with colleagues by email or the occasional Teams video call means that’s much harder.  

It’s not just me that is starting anew. Our new Head of Sales, Jon Melson, also joined at the start of the year. However, unlike me, he is completely new to the company and so I’m sure has faced more challenges in getting to know everyone and how everything works. 

Jon agrees that the biggest challenge has been working remotely when trying to learn the ropes: “Normally you can see first-hand how teams integrate, who talks to who and how things fit together. Whilst I have plenty of ‘hard’ resources, it’s an incomplete picture when you can’t actually see the process or output.” 

The enforced remote working impacts people in different ways. Different roles require different levels of engagement with other people. Whereas much of my time is spent writing and editing, as well as meeting with clients, Jon’s is much more focused on speaking to others. As a result, working remotely has added another layer of difficulty to his job. “My role involves reaching out to a lot of people and rarely getting any response; it can be tough,” says Jon. 

And while there are benefits to working from home – in particular not having to endure the tube each morning – it’s the lack of face-to-face collaboration that has proved difficult for someone in Jon’s role. “I really respond to having a team around me at least a few days per week. It’s also very handy for leads and ideas – a conversation between colleagues can inspire a phone call which otherwise wouldn’t have happened,” Jon adds.  

New ways of working 

For workers across many industries, the last year has thrown up new ways of working. Few have spent any time in their offices since last March, relying instead on Zoom or Microsoft Teams to see their colleagues.  

I was apprehensive before the first Teams call, although I needn’t have been as everyone was exactly as they were before I left in 2019. However, I’m sure it must have been pretty daunting for Jon, logging on from home to see 40 strange faces staring back at him.  

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easily things have worked over Teams, as well as the effort put in to ensure we are all meeting frequently. The morning daily call with the Editorial team has helped me understand what projects everyone is working on, as well as seeing who needs help on a particular day. And the company-wide meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays have been a great opportunity to hear how other departments are getting on. 

Having said that, it’s not quite the same as being in the office and I’m sure that everyone hopes that in the not-too-distant future we’ll be able to meet properly there. And it won’t just be me making  their first trip to Wardour’s new office. Few others in the company have been able to see it since we moved last June, so thankfully it won’t just be me pestering our office manager with questions about where everything is. 

We are lucky to be based in the centre of London, close to Covent Garden. I can’t imagine many of us have been anywhere near there since the pandemic began, so it will be great to reacquaint ourselves with all that the West End has to offer. 

Ultimately though, it’s seeing my colleagues which I’m most looking forward to and being able to start a new chapter at Wardour. 

  

*Ok it is. I left Wardour in 2019 for a painful reason. One day, during a company-wide meeting, I sat down on what looked like a sturdy orange chair, only to break it and fall flat on my back in front of the entire company. The crushing damage to both the chair and my pride meant the only thing I could do was hand in my notice. Thankfully, I’m sure that after 18 months away, everyone has forgotten… 

Published Jan 27, 2021

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