By Depa Patel
Birmingham August 15 (BAN/DP) Depa Patel started a new job post during the pandemic lock down with Legal & General and takes us through her journey. The challenges and learning experience she got from this, an insight to support others who started a new challenge during the lock down as she shares the challenges and her experience.
I started at Legal & General as a Consumer Campaign Manager in the marketing team at Legal & General’s Retail Retirement (LGRR) a couple of weeks before the UK went into lock down in March. My role is in marketing our products to individuals who want to release equity from their homes.
Since I joined, part of my role has involved ensuring that we understand and communicate how the business is adapting to the new situation we find ourselves in. This involves attending research sessions to understand how people’s attitudes are changing, and what our customers are going through, in order to be able to review the communications and messages we send out through our advertising for our Lifetime Mortgage products.
It’s been an interesting time to start a new job, to say the least! Not only has my role been shaped by everything going on, but I was initially quite hesitant about how I would get to know my team whilst working remotely, given that I’m such a people person and I love to be around others.
Luckily, the team has been so welcoming. Daily team calls and chatting on WhatsApp groups have meant that I’ve been able to build good relationships despite working from home. It’s always a bit daunting to start a new job, and it’s especially challenging when you can’t see people face to face, but the whole team have made such a conscious effort to include me.
In a sense, we’ve gotten to know more about each other’s lives very quickly, purely because we’re always speaking to each other from our bedrooms or kitchens. Now, it’s normal just to pick up the phone to each other and have a chat, kind of like we would do face-to-face in the office.
In addition to the challenge of starting a new job, my mum was diagnosed with Covid-19 whilst also recovering from surgery in hospital. She’s thankfully gotten over the virus itself, but for a while it was really difficult. The hospitals were so busy that it was often hard to get through to them and find out if she was ok. She’s probably the sickest person I know but at the same time she’s also the strongest. Even the hospital said they don’t know how she survived considering how ill she was and how many illnesses she’s been dealing with. She’s a fighter.
I’m grateful that I haven’t had to worry about being out of work at the same time as everything else going on. My manager and the Marketing Director have been so supportive throughout, as have the rest of the team. I have to say I’ve been really impressed by how Legal & General have managed the transition to working from home. The company put in a tremendous amount of work in to ensure we could access the portals and remote desktop. They even couriered me an office chair and extra monitor because I proof-read a lot of documents and was struggling to work using just my laptop.
It’s also been helpful to have flexibility in the hours that I work. I have two young sons, so while schools have been closed I’ve been balancing work with keeping them entertained and fed. At first, my sons found it a little confusing to adjust to the fact that I was at home but not necessarily accessible to them like they’re used to, but they’ve been great throughout.
My younger one has even decided to be my ‘colleague’ and asks me if I prefer him to my other colleagues! Now, I’ve found that having them at home has helped me in lots of ways too. For one, it’s made me actually block out time over lunch and take a break, which I wasn’t doing so much before.
During a meeting a few weeks ago, we were discussing mindfulness and mental health. That approach to talking sums up how much emphasis the company puts on caring for our mental health and well-being. Yes, it’s important that the work gets done, but the purpose of that call was just to check if we were doing OK. Even with flexible hours there’s been clear direction – if you receive an email later in the evening or at night, it doesn’t mean you have to reply there and then. That timing might work for the person that sent the email, and that’s OK too, but we shouldn’t take that as an indication that we always need to be available to reply.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s had a family member contract Covid-19, and I know how lucky I am to have not lost someone to the virus. It’s been a powerful reminder that you can’t ever really know what the people around you are going through. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of how you speak to others, especially during this period of uncertainty. People may be dealing with struggles that aren’t immediately obvious. What I’ve learned, and what I hope we can all take away from this experience, is the importance of being kind to one another as much as possible.