For the vast majority of my working life, whenever I changed jobs that meant turning up to a new office building where I'd be based most of the time (the exception being trips or consultancy visits). Since the pandemic, with a massively increased number of people working from home, I've seen a number of companies switch to remote working only. Indeed there's some very interesting books on complete remote working (I found "Remote, Office Not Required" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson a good read). On moving to my new job I found that the office was only open for three days a week, so I'd need to be comfortable with that.
Now I've been in the job over a year I'm reflecting on my experience.
My first week
At the time, the office was open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and I started my new job on a Monday. As is traditional, I went to the office on my first day and met my boss, collected my equipment etc. I also got set up on the various systems I'd need (then Slack members of the teamand Zoom).
Over the first three days I met a lot of people. Given my role involves working with a lot of department heads, leads, and account managers I was introduced to many colleagues in a short space of time. At one point I had about 1.5 hours of meetings scheduled back to back, just so the business knew who their new security person was. It was "introduction overload" if I'm honest, but was useful. A lot of those introductions were over Zoom too, which I still don't find as good as an in-person meet.
Thursday and Friday were work from home days, so I setup my laptop at my desk and carried on. I was still finding my feet and working out what was where, but everyone was very helpful despite being remote.
Finding tasks when you don't see people
Fortunately for me I've always been one to seek out tasks, so not necessarily seeing someone and having them issue me work wasn't a particular problem. We're using Atlassian Jira as our ticketing system, so I was able to see what tasks already existed. Plus, following my introduction marathon, a lot of people were sending me messages for security assistance. Prior to my post's creation, there was no dedicated information security / cyber security resource so people were having to answer questionnaires themselves. That now would be coming to me, and there were already some waiting for me.
Since starting I've learned Jira and got a bit more proficient with it. I've also had changes made to the information security project (what Jira calls a queue) so I can receive work easier and coordinate it better.
Feeling part of the team
I work in the compliance team, and there's three of us. We have a weekly team meeting to discuss what we're working on and socialise a bit, as only two of us are in the same county.
I've also made regular use of instant messengers (Slack, Teams) to talk to colleagues either by text or voice / video call. These have helped me not to feel completely isolated (although sometimes I feel very isolated). Due to my crossover into engineering / development I've been able to create some good relationships with those parts of the business too, which has been useful.
Our company has get togethers four times a year which include company updates and some social time. While these aren't always comfortable for me (parties aren't my thing) I can see the benefit so long as they're well attended. Helps people to put some faces to names too.
What are other colleagues doing?
The vast majority of my colleagues have been working from home since I started with the company. Originally four companies spread across the country, our people were already spread around. Plus there's overseas colleagues.
For UK based colleagues, some came into the offices. Colleagues in other countries aren't necessarily in the office every day though.
And now we have closed the UK offices...
As of late October 2023, we've pulled out of all our UK offices (hence the banner goes from a hybrid to just home). They weren't being well used so I can understand closing them to save costs (my local office was probably rated for 100 or so people, had 20 in it at most each week). This has given me a sense of having no base, and honestly has affected me more than I expected it would.members of the team
Collaboration with colleagues will continue to be largely online, as we were geographically spread anyway, but I'll miss the incidental conversations in the kitchen, or across desks. Meet ups can be arranged in pubs / meeting spaces, of course, but it's not the same as turning up somewhere and having a desk ready to go.
What will I do now?
To start with that's easy - I'll be working from home the same as everyone else. Quite possibly I'll end up meeting some colleagues in a coffee shop occasionally, or have a team meeting that starts with breakfast.
Longer term I'm considering doing a day a week at my local co-working place. It's unclear at the moment if the company will contribute to that (there are some arrangements, but I think those are mostly for meetings) but one day a week is reasonably affordable. If I go down that route it'll give me a commute (exercise), a change of scene, and the ability to see some other people, so I'll have to see how I go.
Banner image: Banner made by me (once again showing my poor artistic talent!), with graphics from OpenClipart:
- Office building: https://openclipart.org/detail/216806/office-building
- House: https://openclipart.org/detail/338788/house