Meet our virtual new starters: What it’s like to join us remotely

Close up of a young woman using a laptop for teleconferencing at home

Starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic is a little different to usual. Here's how some of our newest hires got to grips with joining SEFE Marketing & Trading during lockdown...

Feelings and emotions are bound to run wild on the first day of a new job. There’s the anticipation of meeting your new colleagues, excitement at taking on a new range of duties, and, of course, you’re bound to feel a little nervous when starting the next step of your career. But in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, expectations are bound to be a little different.

Much like everything else since the beginning of a pandemic, starting a new job comes with all sorts of considerations and precautions that have changed things for the time being. Instead of socialising with a new team face-to-face, we’ve become used to Zoom calls and Slack conversations. Coffee breaks have been replaced with virtual team building.

So, what has it been like for new employees joining SEFE Marketing & Trading remotely over the past 17 months? Three of our newest virtual starters share their experiences below…

How has joining SEFE Marketing & Trading virtually differed from other companies you’ve worked at previously?

“The whole process was very seamless,” says Roseanna Davenport, HR Business Partner at SEFE Energy. “I was kept up-to-date with what to expect for my first day, which was great – especially when things were so uncertain at the start of the pandemic.” In fact, there was an immediate positive for Roseanna: “The main difference from working at other companies was having all of my equipment ready ahead of my start date. I even had a scheduled call with IT first thing on day one to talk me through my setup so I could work from home.”

portrait of Roseanna Roundel

In such a strange time, a company’s ability to handle this unprecedented situation will definitely have been stretched, even as things begin to gradually return to normal. For Esther Loo, Entity Controller at SEFE Marketing & Trading, it was certainly a good sign: “SEFE Marketing & Trading were very responsive and quick at adapting to the current state of affairs when I joined. The onboarding process was very well managed, and I had no trouble joining the company!”

Meanwhile, for Clover Chang, Product Controller at SEFE Marketing & Trading, things were a little different: “It felt strange walking into an empty office just to collect my digital equipment from one of my IT colleagues. Because everyone was working from home, it was difficult being properly introduced to everyone in the company.”

What was the first day in your new role like?

The first day at any job can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, but factoring in remote working and physical distance, making a good first impression can be even harder. How did our new starters get on with things?

Portrait of Esther Roundel

Clover reveals a few more details from day one: “My first half of the day was going through emails and system access while waiting for my UK counterpart to log in and brief me further. This gave me some time to explore stuff on my own so I could clarify later with my boss which was good.”

How do your daily duties differ in terms of completing your work remotely compared to what it would be like in an office?

“The duties are very similar, although there are a lot more video and Skype calls; usually I would be meeting with people face-to-face on a regular basis,” says Roseanna. “I would also be doing fewer COVID-themed activities, that’s for sure!”

“I don’t think there is much difference except the increased reliance on IT,” says Clover. “Having to rely on IT, calls and screen share functions to perform daily duties instead of just walking over and discussing things with colleagues did take some getting used to though.”

Since the rest of your team all knew each other pre-pandemic, how has it been capturing that sense of team spirit without actual face-to-face contact?

Meeting a whole new group of colleagues is one of the best parts about starting a new job, but the pandemic has forced us to create camaraderie without actually meeting people in person. What was it like for our new starters?

Clover says: “We’ve been trying to have video calls whenever possible for scheduled formal discussions/meetings in place of physically meeting – it does help to build that personal touch you’d get from talking face to face.”

Portrait of Clover Roundel

Roseanna continues: “We have a weekly team meeting which is quite informal, so we get a chance to bond and get to know each other as individuals. The team have also been really good recognising that it was an unusual way to start and have gone out of their way to make me feel very welcome.”

Esther and her team have also held Skype team meetings, going a step further in their bonding: “Each month the team arrange to have a meal together virtually. The sense of team spirit remained strong – if not even stronger than usual during this period, actually.”

Have there been any challenges in joining us remotely?

Of course, like much of the past 17 months, it’s not been without its challenges, and joining SEFE Marketing & Trading remotely has certainly taken some getting used to for our starters.

For Roseanna, it was her own personal working style that initially posed a problem: “I’m really keen to be in the office and work with people face-to-face rather than virtually. But as for the role specifically, there haven’t been any challenges that I wouldn’t have faced in any other company at any other time – I think the induction and onboarding was spot on.”

Similarly, for Clover, the lack of actual face-to-face communication was also an issue. “Not being able to meet everyone in the company makes it hard to put a face to everyone that I talk to virtually. Relationships also take a longer time to build as people probably feel less connected through virtual interactions – it’s just words without body language and intonation, so less of the message is conveyed.

“It feels strange, but everyone in the company was also very understanding, helpful and cooperative when settling in.”

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