Drinks with colleagues and workplace banter has become a thing of the past over the past year with the pandemic having sent many of us to work from home.
As of January 2020, around 4.7% of the UK population worked from home, but this hiked eight-fold by April which saw over 43% of the population reporting to be working exclusively from home, according to WISERD (Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data).
Undeniably, working from home has its perks: from not having to make yourself look presentable every day and having a nap on your lunch break (my personal fave), to rolling out of bed minutes before you’re due to start because of not having to commute to the office.
But while it has its perks, you can’t help but deny it’s been quite an odd experience – especially if you started a new job during the pandemic and therefore haven’t met anyone you work with.
Ellie Morgan told UNILAD, ‘I started working at my new job the second week of December 2020. At first I was sceptical about starting a new job working from home but honestly it’s been amazing.’
The company I’m at is next level in so many ways. The processes they have put in place to make on-boarding a breeze. The whole team is so genuine and all messaged me to welcome me within my first week. I’ve already made some great friends here and yet I’ve met none!
Discussing how she feels about eventually meeting her new work mates, Ellie said, ‘I’m actually really excited to meet everyone in the office as the work chats alone make me laugh so much so no doubt the office vibes will be even better.’
Johnny* also spoke to UNILAD about starting a job over the last year and branded it as ‘bizarre’. He said, ‘It’s weird because I’ve never worked in an office before so this is even weirder in that respect because I don’t even have that experience. This is my office experience.’
‘Before I worked in my current role, I worked as a cinema host so it’s been bizarre because it’s about navigating office politics without knowing what office politics are like because I’ve never been in that position,’ he continued.
Johnny, who started his job last June, went on to say how he’s navigated his way around workplace relationships and has relied on good ol’ gifs to portray his personality. He explained, ‘I feel like I know people well enough, but equally it’s a different kind of knowing people because obviously we’re all working from home.’
‘I remember when I had a Zoom call with everyone and I was quite conscious that for quite a lot of people, that was the first time I was even talking to them – even though I had spoken to them for a few months [over online chat].’
For me it’s interesting because I like being sociable, and I realise now that gifs are a big part of trying to be communicative. I like being able to be emotive, and a gif feels like the best way to do that right now – but then I also think, am I being annoying because I’m doing it too much…
Regarding physically meeting his colleagues, Johnny said he thinks it’ll be odd at the time but hasn’t thought about it too much because everything – lockdown restrictions-wise – has been every up-in-the-air for so long.
Someone else to have started their job during the pandemic was Hollie Hines, who started her job in October. She told UNILAD, ‘I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly apprehensive about starting a new job virtually, but because I’d been working remotely since lockdown, I was very familiar with the pros and cons.’
There are certain moments at work where it would be easier to chat with a colleague in person, but now it’s become second nature to jump on a Zoom call quickly and regroup as a team. It helps prevent conversations from being misunderstood. It’s easily done, but with good practices in place, you soon learn how to make a remote role work both ways.
Hollie concluded that she’s looking forward to one day properly meeting her colleagues face-to-face but also described a mixture of working from home and in the office as a ‘perfect balance’ for her, something she may not have got pre-COVID.
Love it or hate it, the working from home movement isn’t going away just yet.
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