Starting a new job during the pandemic

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Starting a new job is always a challenge. Plenty of new names need to be assigned to new faces, new networks need to be established and old ones maintained. Your new office is still under construction and you constantly forget about how to get there due to the maze of corridors that all look the same. For newly planned experiments, lots of equipment has to be ordered, but your telephone is not working yet, and the IT guy forgot to set up your computer in time. While you actually like to be productive and leave a good first impression to your bosses and colleagues, ‘getting ready’ takes most of your time.

During a global pandemic, starting a new job is even harder. The amount of hands to be shaken might have decreased, but now you first get to know your colleagues in 2D on your (eventually set-up) computer screen. At least you don’t have to remember where the office of Susan (or was it Megan?) is but just where you buried the Zoom link for the resepective online meeting. While your brain usually stores face-name combinations via eye-catching features like ‘Peter is the guy wearing pink shoes’, you only get to see half of your colleagues’ bodies. Coffee breaks as the heart of sozializing activities of course only happen in virtual form making it impossible to judge someone by her/his coffee-making abilities or to find out about office hate-love relationships between colleagues due to the missing body language information. Equally challenging are meetings with your boss(es). If they can happen in person, you miss face expressions due to mouth-nose protection measures, and thus do not know if he/she really likes your idea or is just laughing about it behind the mask.

If your new job is in another country, the next big challenge is that partner/family/friends might be missing and you feel even more isolated in the beginning. After you managed to cross borders, survived the entry quarantine, you finally end up in home office, which feels like exactely the same situtation. Actually home office is just the professional version of a quarantine… After a day of only online contacts with unfamiliar colleagues you just like to have a beer with a close friend, but heyhey…they are only available on Skype. Reducing your screen time becomes your biggest dream but you cannot place an order because the Universe hasn’t set up Zoom yet. Getting to know new people is so important in this phase but how does it work when pubs, gyms and cinemas are closed? Well, onlinize your hobbies…

Photo by Charlotte May on

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