Here's how new joiners are dealing with challenges of work amid lockdown

Updated: May 31, 2020, 07:54 IST | P Vatsalya | Mumbai

Professionals who joined a new workplace right before the lockdown are navigating the twin challenges of WFH and unfamiliarity

Hari Chakyar was barely getting to know his colleagues at Fruitbowl Digital Media, when the lockdown was announced. It had been under a month since he joined the Andheri-based firm as creative director.

"Usually, 20 days is a good enough time to put names to faces and understand who does what. Working remotely makes this challenging. I still don't know half the people in the company," he says. "It usually happens at the water cooler or in the cafeteria, during lunch. I miss being able to do that."

Hari Chakyar, Creative Director, Fruitbowl Media Pvt Ltd
Hari Chakyar, Creative Director, Fruitbowl Media Pvt Ltd

While most professionals have spent the last few weeks trying to get accustomed to working in isolation at home, those like Chakyar, who joined a new workplace right before lockdown, are dealing with the hurdle of unfamiliarity too.

Abhishek Vatsayan,  copywriter, Futurescapes Advertising
Abhishek Vatsayan, copywriter, Futurescapes Advertising

Putting in full work hours, is one way to cope, believes Abhishek Vatsayan. Vatsayan is a copywriter at Futurescape Advertising. He is five-months-old at the firm and says he clocks in a minimum of nine hours of work every day. Since he doesn't have to commute from Seawoods to Vashi in Navi Mumbai, he doesn't mind putting in the extra hours to wrap up pending assignments. He believes he is fortunate to have work during a crisis that has seen lay offs and salary cuts.

Rahul Balakrishnan from Arthan, a New Delhi-based social enterprise specialising in career planning and employability for government school students, agrees. "The overall climate in the social sector is not prone to hiring. The organisations which were actively looking for candidates in March have put positions temporarily on hold."

Rahul Balakrishnan, head of executive search and business strategy, Arthan
Rahul Balakrishnan, head of executive search and business strategy, Arthan

Balakrishnan heads executive search and business strategy at Arthan, which conducted an anonymous survey in April, which saw participation by over 130 outfits from the social impact sector. "The survey revealed that 62 per cent of all organisations have put hirings on hold; 17 per cent are hiring only for extremely critical positions and 21 per cent are continuing to hire." Those who are hiring are doing so on a short-term or project-basis versus long-term hirings in the previous month. Most of them (82 per cent) have discussed or implemented cost-cutting measures.

But Balakrishnan says it's not all doom and gloom, because Arthan has observed a spike in hiring in technology-centric organisations dealing with specific domains like edu-tech, health-tech and fin-tech. Such organisations have invested in fleshing out systems and processes to manage their workforces remotely.

Jerin Jacob, educator, international school
Jerin Jacob, educator, International school

Jerin Jacob is an educator, who teaches literature and language at a city-based international school. Jacob has been teaching online, using Google services like Meet and Classroom, since the beginning of May. She was informed that the school is looking at moving classes to the virtual medium for the foreseeable future right when she was hired. "We were trained via webinars, about how to navigate the virtual space to teach effectively. Divisions of each class or standard have been clubbed together, which allows one teacher to teach the content while another one keeps a tab on questions coming in via the chat box. Students' doubts get clarified in real time without distracting the flow of the class."

Jacob has had to have her family be mindful of her time and privacy when at work from home, given that she can't afford to have her students distracted.

Rynelle Oliver, senior content creator, Never Grow Up
Rynelle Oliver, senior content creator, Never Grow Up

Organisations have been trying to conceive innovative solutions to engage their workforce, keeping in mind employee wellness and motivation. Rynelle Oliver is a senior content creator at Never Grow Up, a work culture consultancy company dedicated to the pursuit of happiness at work. She joined the team on February 20 and had to switch to WFH almost immediately. "We have fun activities like virtual quizzes every week, which keep us engaged. If I am having a bad day and I find myself unable to meet a deadline, I have the option of communicating the same to my team, which is reassuring."

Bridge the fresher gap

Tips from Ashita Adsare, psychotherapist.

Acknowledge the anxiety THAT COMES WITH STARTING A NEW JOB: It is an uncertain time, globally and personally. Staring at a screen continuously can be tiring, too. So, be mindful that there will be some discomfort. You can engage in grounding exercises or practice mindfulness or quick meditation to alleviate some of it.

Find ways to fraternise: Put in some effort to reach your colleagues in a non-work setting, virtually or over call; read up on the company, its seniors, the work culture of your organisation, etc.

Don’t dive in, ease yourself into work: While you may be enthusiastic to perform to the best of your capabilities, it’s important to gradually take on more and challenging work so as to not overwhelm yourself. Find out what works to enhance your productivity and efficacy.

Identify where you need help: If you’re not comfortable using tech tools like Zoom, Google docs etc., reach out to your supervisor or a trusted friend who can help you learn. Or turn to the net and YouTube, which offers tutorials on practically everything.

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