How CIPHR’s new starters have adjusted to remote working

Four of CIPHR’s employees share their experiences of joining a new company remotely

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Hybrid working Onboarding Recruitment and retention

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Four of CIPHR’s employees share their experiences of joining a new company remotely

For over a year, many of us have had to work remotely. For HR teams, this has meant having to take on new roles and responsibilities and welcome new starters. At CIPHR, the entire workforce became remote in March 2020, and since then, we have welcomed over 60 new starters who have never seen the office in person and who have had to adjust to remote working.

“Being a remote new starter was a bit daunting at first,” says Chris Adewale – who joined CIPHR in April 2021 as a business development executive – but how exactly has the experience been for CIPHR’s new starters who have had to immerse themselves into a company without seeing anybody face-to-face?

Here, Adewale, along with CIPHR’s talent manager Lucy O’Callaghan, PR manager Emma-Louise Jones and implementation consultant Usman Bashir, share their experiences of being a new remote starter and their thoughts on hybrid working.

What was it like for you, coming into a new company remotely?

O’Callaghan : “I was made redundant from my previous role because of Covid-19 and I’d then started a remote contract role after that. Then I came to CIPHR, so I had some experience of starting a new job remotely, but I was still nervous about being a remote starter because I’m a real people person. I like to meet people face-to-face, sit in a room with them and get them to understand my ways of working, my personality, and my quirks by chatting with them. I feel like you get a better sense of that from face to face but my team were really great when I joined.”

Adewale: “I found it a bit daunting at first but everyone at CIPHR has been really helpful and friendly. I’ve been in companies in the past where it’s taken a couple of weeks just to get my contract but at CIPHR the remote onboarding process was so smooth and meant that I received my contract, work laptop and equipment all before my start date.”

Jones : “I’ve worked remotely before but this is the first time I’ve ever started completely remotely with the view that my job is going to be 100% remote.

“Right from the start, everyone at CIPHR has been so welcoming and approachable. I’ve met so many people via group chats in such a short space of time. Everyone is willing to connect via Teams, which is really useful to a new remote starter like me. As a 100% remote worker, there’s always the possibility you could end up potentially feeling a little bit more isolated at work, as you don’t see colleagues in person as much as others. That certainly doesn’t feel likely here at CIPHR though. Everyone is so well connected and proactive in staying in touch.”

Bashir : “I’ve preferred being a remote starter. There’s less commute time and we’re utilising Teams which means I can see more of the team members frequently. Typically, in the office, you might have to wait certain days to see team members in the office but with everyone working remotely I was able to interact with team members easily on a daily basis.”

As a remote new starter, have you been motivated to do some things differently than you would do in the office?

O’Callaghan: “I definitely made sure I was proactive in asking questions like: what does that mean? What are you talking about there? Who is that? What do they do? I wasn’t too proud to ask questions and my team members were all receptive and helpful which helped me understand everything clearly.”

Adewale: “When working remotely, there’s no one sitting next to you who you can turn to and ask for help or just ask questions to, so I made sure I asked more questions and spoke up when I was confused about something. If you’re working with a senior employee in the office, you might feel a little bit nervous about asking questions, but being a remote new starter means you’re forced to ask questions and send out messages or emails to colleagues for help.”

 

How has the lack of socialisation and not meeting new colleagues been for you when working remotely?

Adewale: “The lack of in-person socialisation hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. Everyone is quite good at showing their personality through memes in group chats, for example, which helps you to gauge their sense of humour as well. Everyone at CIPHR has been really friendly so far so the relationships have been good.”

O’Callaghan: “There’s always some sense of loneliness when you finish a virtual call because you’re back to being by yourself at home, but my team have been really, really open with constant communication on Teams and we have a WhatsApp group as well. I haven’t really felt like there’s been a barrier to getting to know them which is great, but it is a bit of a lonely experience when you start remotely but CIPHR do a really good job at combating that loneliness, and making you feel like you’re a part of something even if you’re sat in your slippers in your spare room.”

What have been the benefits of being a new starter in a remote workplace?

Bashir: “Personally, being a new starter in a remote workplace has meant that I’ve been a lot more productive than I would have been in the office. Working on the implementation team means that a lot of time is spent on client calls and because I’m not surrounded by lots of people, there’s fewer distractions for me. I can just pick up the phone and call clients when they are free and have been able to work more efficiently.”

Jones: “For me, a benefit is that I haven’t been held back in the type of work that I wanted to do – I’ve been able to stay in my profession and utilise my skills for a company that’s growing, without worrying about where I’m located.

“I’ve also found that starting a new job remotely evens out the playing field for all employees. You’ve got so many faces in front of you on Teams and everyone is in the same boat, which goes a long way to helping ensure everyone feels equally included and equally part of the team”.

But along with the loneliness, what are the downsides to being a remote new starter?

O’Callaghan: “For me, the negatives are that I’ve had to learn a new way of building relationships with people. My job is very people-focused and normally I would sit down and build a rapport with someone face to face, but now I’ve had to embed new working practices to do that virtually.”

As some organisations return to the office and some continue working remotely, what are your thoughts on hybrid working?

Adewale: “I personally think some form of hybrid working is good. It would be challenging initially as I’m used to working remotely now but it would be good to also be in the office and have options.”