“Same storm, different boat” is a phrase I’m sure we’ve all heard. And it’s true. Whilst the pandemic as a whole has impacted everyone, the effect has been wildly diverse. There is no denying that a family living in a small city apartment are going to have a very different experience of the tier systems and lockdowns than a family living in a large house in the countryside.
The relocation industry has been hit hard over the last year, but many relocations have taken place. Families, couples and single people have moved cities and countries to start new lives. Ordinarily, whilst daunting, this would be an exciting time for them; perhaps taking the next step in their career path, making new friends, their children starting at a new school or learning about a different culture. But now that we find ourselves in another lockdown in the U.K., the restrictions will make all of those things far trickier to achieve and enjoy. Building working relationships with close colleagues without sharing a workspace is a challenge. You can’t socialise with anyone or join any clubs to meet people with similar interests. Children are unable to meet their classmates and form friendships, whilst also trying to navigate virtual learning. It must be incredibly difficult. In a bid to make such a landmark time in the lives of those in this situation a little easier, we have created this blog to offer our advice:
There is nothing organic about remote working. Starting a new role at a different company whilst all employees are working from home makes it all extra challenging. The usual orientations, inductions and introductions can’t happen in the traditional way so to integrate yourself into the team and the business as a whole will require a different approach. However, colleagues are likely to be aware of the challenges you face and will be on hand to support you.
Before you start your role, get your home office set up so you are as comfortable and relaxed as possible. On your first day you don’t want to be fidgeting on your chair because your back is aching or worrying about what your background looks like in video calls! It may be that your company will offer the loan of office furniture but if not, then try to find a quiet place in the home where you feel content and ensure you have a good chair to sit on and a desk to work at.
Schedule a meeting with your manager as soon as possible. Discuss any concerns you have with regard to remote working and make sure you are aware of the company guidelines. Ensure you know who key people are and try to schedule an introductory meeting with each of them to find out who they are, what their position is and how it fits in with your daily role. Video meetings might not be the most popular way of meeting now that we are well and truly back into lockdown dress down, but it would be helpful if people are not too resistant!
Take up any training on offer to you. There are bound to be a number of systems you are not familiar with and whilst it would have been easy enough to learn on the job when working in an office, it’s far tougher when you are not surrounded by colleagues you can call upon for help or clarification.
Work social meetings are a bit marmite. But, when you’re new it’s a good idea to attend everything so that you can get to know your colleagues on a more personal level which will, in turn, help you to settle quicker whilst also making friends.
Remember to take time out. When you start a new job and perhaps feel overwhelmed it’s easy to continue working well beyond your contracted hours, especially if you live alone. Of course, workloads sometimes call for additional time but ensure you don’t form a habit of working early in the morning through to late at night simply because you’re at home. Form a good routine, ensure you have breaks from your desk and your screen, eat appropriately, exercise and take time for yourself.
Although there are lots of restrictions on what places we can frequent during lockdown, it does give us all the perfect opportunity to explore your local area. Since you are not allowed to leave your town, use this time to really get to know your surroundings. Exercise and fresh air are especially important, so combining the two to go for a walk or a run in your local park or forest, or around the town or village is a good way to find your bearings, see what shops and businesses are local to you and generally explore your new area. I know many people that have lived in the same place for years and lockdown has encouraged them to discover things about where they live that they would never have found this time last year!
If you use social media, it would be a great idea to join or follow some of the local community groups. This will help you to learn more about the neighbourhood and might even provide you with an opportunity to meet people, get involved with some volunteering projects during lockdown or give you an idea of some groups you could join when life returns to some form of normality. We have a very active Facebook group in my village which often contains requests from people new to the area asking for advice on where to buy, local groups or activities etc. For instance just lately there was a treasure trail for the local children to follow when out on their daily walk!
Starting a new school can be overwhelming at the best of times. When you throw a new country and possibly a new language into the mix and a sprinkling of Covid-19 Pandemic on top, then it can be extremely challenging. Relationships with teachers are often fundamental to learning and friendships are vital for the development of social skills. Early relationship building is key, so the sooner you start this dialog with the school the better (even prior to your arrival). Even if this is not possible, looking at their website with your child will help build familiarity and help them look forward to this new adventure. All schools are required to provide remote learning during this lockdown and although schools are doing it slightly differently, there should still be various opportunities for children to get to know their peers. Live lessons may allow the children to see each other, if cameras are permissible, and provide some form of interaction with teachers and pupils. If the school are offering recorded lessons then there may be a way for the children to message one another, almost like an internal social media platform. If so, it would be a good idea for your child to introduce him/herself and chat to their classmates.
Many schools also seem to be organising a weekly video call to talk about school work as well as non-school related topics, so this gives a great opportunity for your child to visually see and meet classmates to break down those initial barriers. If not, however, perhaps you could organise a video call via a different platform to the one school uses as a one off for your child to meet the other pupils and get to know them.
Another great idea is to contact the school and ask how parents communicate with each other in their year groups. WhatsApp groups are extremely popular and will help you as a parent to integrate into the class and get to know some of the parents. Likewise, it would be useful to ask the school for information regarding the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), not necessarily to join although I’m sure you would be welcomed with open arms! Often PTAs convey information from the school in addition to the normal channels so if you follow them on social media it will help you all to feel part of the school community.
Hopefully if you do some of the above you will begin to get to know work colleagues, people in your community and other parents at school. In addition, you could find out details of online networking events if you run your own business which will help you meet people as well as present an opportunity to promote your business. If you have a hobby, or would like to take up a new one, you could find local or national group offering virtual classes. Ultimately, you will need to take additional measures to form relationships as they will not naturally occur as they would pre-pandemic. Talk to everyone, accept invitations to as many events as you can and get involved.
With certain measures now in place, an end to the pandemic is in sight. This time next year we’ll hopefully be looking back on our memories of lockdown, wishing we could wear slippers for work every day again!
For up to date information on current restrictions, please click here –
For further information on school, please click here –
If you are thinking of relocating to, or within, the UK, please contact us to see how we can help you.
0118 947 0029