How to bring a new team member on board during a pandemic

xero, pandemic, remote working

The team at Fresh Financials have found themselves in conversations with clients and friends who had ambitions to hire before Covid-19, who are now hesitant to go ahead. I understand that despite the cost of a new employee, onboarding someone new when you can’t even see them in person is scary. 

A new job + lockdown is a combination that some might think would be difficult and unsettling but that has not been my experience.

I want to share the real experience, and show you how the FF team made it a smooth transition. Hopefully you’ll come away from this feeling positive about taking the step you were ready for before the world went crazy! It can be done. 

I feel very fortunate to have joined when I did and lucky to work for a company that has my back, even in a lockdown pandemic. 

Prepare for anything, (before anything happens)

I started working at Fresh Financials on the 9th March, just a couple of weeks before lockdown began. 

I was so excited to start at Fresh Financials. I had come to the end of my maternity leave with my second daughter and was in the throes of sitting exams for my bookkeeping qualification.

Eager and ready to go, my first couple of weeks in the office were great. I had time to get to know my wonderful colleagues, learn the ropes of my new role, and get to know the FF way of working. In general, I was really enjoying being back in a working environment. 

In the office we’d all been discussing the coronavirus ‘situation’ and all thought it would blow over. I don’t think any of us imagined quite what was about to happen and how it would impact us all.

Emma however had rightly preempted what might be about to happen and ordered the new starters laptops so we could work from home like the rest of the team, should we need to. 

When I set up my workstation at home, I had no issues in doing so, it was merely a case of opening up my laptop and turning it on! Fresh Financials is a cloud based bookkeeping firm, which means we can work from anywhere with ease. All we need to do is connect to the internet, so working from home for us is just the same as working in the office, minus each other (and the comfy chairs!).

Whether you’re in an office 9-5 every day or not, preparing your business for remote working is a no-brainer. Even if your team is in the office the majority of their working time, you know you’re always prepared for unexpected. 

Prepare new staff emotionally too, by showing how you’ll support them

When Emma announced that we were all to start working from home, the team spent an entire day giving me a crash course on some of the daily tasks I’d be expected to undertake. 

On the drive home, I definitely started to get a little worried  about how  it would pan out for me as I was new to the role and new to the industry. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to learn as effectively from home, but also hopeful I wouldn’t be working remotely  for too long. 

This worry soon settled as the team walked me through how I’d be supported. When lockdown was officially announced, we discussed how we would continue to communicate. Daily zoom calls were booked in and team Whatsapp groups were created. 

I felt fully reassured by my colleagues and I am so grateful to be part of such a proactive and dynamic team who all pulled together to help each other out. I continued to receive training and the team were still able to provide a world class service to our clients. There was absolutely no panic, everyone just logged on as normal from home and carried on with their daily tasks. 

You’ll know that these strange times are having an emotional impact that can be just as hard to manage as the physical impact. Staying in regular communication with the team and checking in on them personally is so important. Opening up a space to share feelings can be really helpful for an isolated team, and for you as the business owner. Don’t forget you’re a person who needs support too! We wrote a blog all about the emotional side of remote working here

We know the struggle is real

There have been challenges along the way, of course. Digesting and staying up to date with constantly changing information  from HMRC has certainly been one of them. This has been top priority for the team, so we can support our clients as thoroughly as possible. 

And then there’s childcare. Anyone who has children at home and has continued to  work during lockdown will relate in some way to the saying ‘the struggle is real’. My daughters are 2 years old and 10 months old and would usually be in preschool or with Grandma, so it has not been easy having them at home whilst my partner and I have been working! 

FF are incredibly flexible when it comes to changing working hours to fit around home life. This has certainly made the transition to home working much easier.

That said, we’ve muddled through like all the other working parents in the country and figured out a system that works for us – it’s considerably more streamlined now we’ve been doing it for so many weeks!

This new way of working may mean a more resilient new team member 

Hand on heart, I can say that the tiny bit of worry and uncertainty I had driving home on the last day in the office vanished after our first team Zoom call. I remember coming off the call and feeling fired up and ready to get going. My training hasn’t been impacted, our team spirit is constantly high and there is so much support for one another.

I hope my experience helps your worry and uncertainty vanish. Taking on a new member of staff during difficult times may mean they build resilience they simply wouldn’t have from the comfort of the office. If they can work unaffected remotely, with your support, you may have a stronger team than ever. And you may even find it changes the way you do business when we come out the other side of this! 

Whatever you decide, we’re always here to help with a story of our own experience. Plus, we’re still able to provide Xero training if you want to make sure your team is getting the best support from your accounting software. Tech is everything right now! 

Stay safe and keep going.