Joining Integrity during COVID-19

 In COVID-19 NEWS, News

At Integrity we know our people are our most important asset. Long standing staff and new joiners alike, we continue to invest in new talent to support our teams to do what they do best.

Take a look here at our current opportunities to join Integrity. We continue to recruit, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Integrity’s recent recruits Georgia Chandler, Business Officer, and Sam Callum, Senior Operations Manager, joined the company during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our Head of Operations, Sam Slota-Newson , spoke to them to find out more about their experience since joining. DKM Officer, Hamza Ali, also shares some experiences and top tips for staying in touch with colleagues whilst working from home.

‘Sam and Georgia, could you talk me through your initial thoughts and concerns about joining Integrity amid the Pandemic and subsequent lockdown?’

Sam: I was acutely aware of the pandemic when I first applied for the role at Integrity – I was travelling at the time and had to have my interviews online via Microsoft Teams. Once I had accepted the role and the COVID-19 response in the UK was ramped up I began to realise that the “usual” onboarding experience of stepping into the office on the first day and meeting my colleagues, manager and direct reports, wouldn’t be on the cards. I was reassured though that Integrity would put effort into mitigating the impact of not being in the office and I am pleased to say that use of Teams and video calls has helped.

Georgia: I interviewed in person for Integrity at the beginning of February when the coronavirus situation was playing out in other parts of the world and had not spread so rapidly to Europe or the UK. However, once I had received the job offer, and the situation worsened, I wondered how I would start my new job. I was informed by my manager that I would be starting remotely as the office had been shut until further notice. This was nerve-racking.

‘How have you found your start at Integrity? What do you think has worked well?’

Sam: I have been welcomed at Integrity and had several online inductions with colleagues who provided good introductions using Microsoft Teams, supplemented by supporting documents to read. I have also found detailed touches, like the use of pictures on the organogram helpful. This feels welcoming because you can better understand who’s who. I am yet to meet anyone in person from Integrity, apart from Sam Slota-Newson, my manager, but have been pleasantly surprised by the sociable activities which have been set up online like the ‘virtual pub’ on Friday afternoons.

Georgia: I have found my start at Integrity really welcoming. It was nice to be introduced to the organisation on the bi-weekly global call. And I think the use of the video function on calls has made a real difference for me – seeing people’s faces and gauging body language.

Having been here for a few weeks now, I can see that Podio, the data and knowledge management system that is used at Integrity has been useful in learning about the organisation and how it functions. Podio and Microsoft Teams are both integrated into the working culture. I think that this is integral to why both Sam Callum and I have had such a smooth transition into our new roles during this difficult time. I have also been provided with additional IT equipment like a wireless keyboard which has made a big difference for my work-from-home set up. Integrity has been forthcoming and accommodating.

‘What has been the most difficult thing, starting during the COVID-19 pandemic?’

Sam: The most frustrating thing for me has been that you can’t ask a quick question over your shoulder. Usually you would be sat next to someone, and you would be able to ask them a quick question and get a quick response in return. Working remotely is less conducive to those sorts of questions.

Georgia: I’ve felt the same thing as Sam. It’s sometimes been tricky to miss the interaction at the beginning of a job when you are being able to just walk across the room and have a quick chat with someone. But I am looking forward to meeting everyone in Somerset House soon.

‘I can see that is a challenge, but you should feel free to give people a virtual tap on the shoulder on Teams. We try to encourage staff to use Teams as an informal communications platform. What permanent lessons do you think will be learnt from what we hope is a temporary lockdown?’

Georgia: I expect people will work from home even more than they did before as internal systems will be set up to cope with more people on the networks, not only at Integrity, but across the board. I mean, at Integrity, the systems were already conducive to lots of people working remotely, as working from home is part of our total reward policy. We have several offices with staff and consultants working remotely in other parts of the world. All use Podio and Microsoft Teams, and the use of both these tools has been successfully engrained in the working culture at Integrity for several years now.

Sam: Agreed, across the industry, this is an adrenaline boost for remote working. I know Integrity has taken steps to support staff to work safely and effectively from home and the Operations team are thinking about additional support to help people create a positive work environment.

Something we will take from this will be more empathy for our other offices across the world, remote field teams or even single consultants. We have always thought through how to support them, but now we have all lived it we will better understand the challenges they face.

Hamza, as our DKM Officer, could you provide some top tips on how to effectively work remotely and how best to onboard new starters with the ongoing COVID-19 situation?’

Hamza: My top tips would be:

  • Over-communicate to ensure new starters feel welcomed and are informed
  • Invest in tangible and interactive inductions and materials for new starters
  • Ensure all new starters have access to additional IT equipment so that they can effectively work from home and have the right set up
  • Take breaks from work and have regular conversations with colleagues that aren’t about work

‘Great tips, Hamza. You have also helped create a Working from Home Wellness space on Podio, where we are gathering good ideas and best practice from across our team to make sure we all stay healthy and well. This has been a great initiative.’

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