When the news came that lockdown was imminent, the whole world started feeling very nervous. My personal version of these nerves kicked in fully. Apart from the obvious threat of getting sick from what we now know is an awful disease, the added pressure of work was on. I had accepted my new job way before we knew the real severity of the pandemic. I was working out my notice before starting this new role as Business Director at The Nursery. The process of interviewing and accepting the job ran pretty smoothly as it happened in January 2020 - before talk of sourdough, banana bread and radical haircuts became a ‘thing’. Seeing out my notice period and leaving my previous job as lockdown started didn’t fill me with much confidence. Would I still have a job to go to? How could I start a job when I was forced to stay home? If I was to start, how could I get up and running without being with my new colleagues?
Thankfully my gut-feeling about my new company proved to be pretty bang on. Not only did I have a job to go to, but it was one with great clients, lovely people and most importantly a culture that was able to support a fully virtual induction process.
I mention culture because of all the things a company can have it is the thing that made my first 6 months at The Nursery a fully enriching one. It allowed me to learn, be open, get to know people and most importantly be myself. Many companies are returning to the office in some capacity or at least planning to some time soon. This has prompted a lot of articles stating how important the office (bricks and mortar) is to the culture of a business. My recent experience has shown to me that this is not necessarily the case (with a few obvious caveats).
It’s been a great 6 months, I learnt everyone’s names a lot quicker than I would have done if I’d been in the office. I put this down to being able to see people’s names next to their faces whilst on Zoom or Teams calls. I made more effort to ‘meet’ everyone individually to chat about how they were getting on working from home and where they were in the world. I have met cats, dogs, children, partners and parents. I have heard noisy washing machines, doorbells ring and kettles boil. All of this has given me a far richer understanding of my new colleagues. It’s given me more context, more pictures in my mind to help me get to know this brilliant bunch of people which I’m sure is as much down to them as it is the remote nature of how I began.
It’s made me think about company culture, why we need it and what it is; it’s the social order, the free coffee machine, the Friday beers, the Christmas parties, the training and career development, the recognition, the flexibility, the tone of communications. It’s a jigsaw of things that you can feel if it’s right and you can definitely feel if it’s wrong. Not all companies can afford free breakfasts or are set up to offer everyone gym membership or boost their pensions and my first 6 months at The Nursery has shown me exactly what a good culture looks like. In my mind I’ve simplified it down to one word – care. Employers that care about whether or not you are feeling ok, they care about you having all the equipment you need in order to do your job, they care about the life you have outside of your workday and take that into account particularly on your first week when your 13 year old barges into the room whilst you’re on a Zoom call, trying to make a good impression and shouts “Fortnite isn’t working”!
Having a collaborative and open culture is incredible. It’s not the singular thing you need to make a company successful. But, I’d say it goes a long way to ensuring you can build a team of brilliant people who can adapt when crisis hits and can welcome someone in warmly no matter what the circumstances.
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