Starting a new job in the age of Corona

Like many others, I have used the age of Corona, to start a new chapter in my career. I went from developing automation for Danske Bank, to doing pretty much the same for a company called Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension, or just ATP for short. To be fair, Corona didn’t actually have anything to do, with me acquiring a new job. But it certainly has affected the process of starting at a new company.

Working from home can be stressful. But there are also positive things about it.

I live in Denmark, where there may be less restrictions than in other countries. Still, shortly after I started at my new job, the government recommended that everyone should work from home – if possible. My company decided to follow this advice and sent almost all employees to work from home. So I got to spent around a week in the office with my new colleagues, before only being able to see them on Teams. I started at the first of December. And today – in February – I am still sitting in my home office.

Now it may sound like I feel sorry for myself. Rest assured this is not the case. But I do like to learn from my experiences and this is definitely an experience. So below are two of my thoughts, regarding this experience.

Social contact has a diminishing returns

To those unfamiliar with the term diminishing returns, it basically means that things has less effect the more time you do it. In my case, it means that the week I actually got, was worth more in terms of social relations, than week two would have been. And week 3 would have been even less impactful. This leads me to think that having people in the office five days a week, has little to no extra effect over having them there 3 days a week. At least in terms of social relations. This is interesting if you would like to work from home 1-2 days a week (the employee perspective) or if you would like to reduce the number of chairs to cut costs (the CEO perspective). This is obviously a bit simplified, because there is a difference between a total lack of contact and just replacing physical contact with virtual contact. None-the-less, I think it’s worth considering.

Asynchronous communication is underrated

When we are at the office, we tend to deliver messages verbally. Now that we are all sitting at home, we are typically using e-mail or Teams (or whatever your company is using). So now, when you get a message, you don’t have to react to it immediately. In other words: it’s asynchronous. This gives two advantages:

  1. It is less disturbing to what you are doing right now (especially if you remember to set your status to “Busy”).
  2. It allows the information to persist, without me having to write it down on a piece of paper.

We should learn from this once (if?) we get back to the office. Try to reduce the number of times you walk over to someone, without noting them first (e.g. over Teams). And if you do, start with the question: “Do you have time for a quick question?”. And remember that it’s okay to say no. And if you do get verbal information, remember to write it down. Because you may forget it otherwise.

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