Starting a new job during COVID-19

Welcoming

Beginning a new job with the option of working remote is every millennial’s dream, right? Roll out of bed, put in your AirPods, and you are ready to go for that morning meeting with your team, all within the comfort of your own bedroom (or bed). The only caveat is that your new career starts during a global pandemic and you have virtually no other option but to shelter-in-place. As I wrap up my third month as a Jr. Application Engineer at Service Objects, we have transitioned to nearly the entire staff working remotely due to COVID-19. It has been quite the start.

The effects of COVID-19 are impacting every area of the job market, but some sectors innately manage to hold up better than others. A positive consequence of the disruption has been the acceleration of remote working, particularly in the tech industry, allowing many businesses to keep their workforce.

Working remote

When I started working at Service Objects, about a third of the staff was already working from home. My direct supervisor works out of Arizona, and from the interview stages up until now, our only source of communication has been through chat and video conference applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Through these applications and screen share features, internal wikis, and high-speed internet, my training has been smooth and effective.

Before the pandemic began, Service Objects was already working to ensure our staff was capable and comfortable working remotely, assigning certain days for team members to work from home. We largely use online communication tools while adhering to secure data sharing procedures. Given that our core values focus on precise data quality, customer service, and guaranteed uptime, we were prepared to deliver in almost any situation: server failure, global pandemic, or otherwise.

No interruptions

For many other businesses, working remotely has been trial by fire, with the pandemic quickly sweeping nearly everyone out of their offices. For us at Service Objects, we were able to transition to remote quickly and effectively, minimizing friction as much as possible and with no interruptions to our services and customers. It has now been over 12 weeks with a almost the entire staff working from home. We remain fully operational and have really hit our stride and able to focus on supporting our clients as they face adversity during this difficult time.

Even so, there are challenges to working from home that are only fully realized in practice. Once the novelty wears off, you realize there still is work to be done. Challenges like carving out physical workspace in the space you have available, or maintaining a balance between work and life take center stage. Whether you have kids at home, ten roommates, thin walls, or whatever it may be, working remote is not a dream for all and comes with its own limitations.

I feared being infinitely distracted, not finding a space where I could differentiate between work and home, thus potentially affecting my productivity – which was not an ideal start to a new career, particularly in times of job insecurity.

Essential

Luckily for me, Service Objects is considered an essential and lower-risk business, given that we are vital to supporting businesses across multiple industries. Per Santa Barbara County’s Social Distancing Mandate, I have been able to work in the office during this pandemic, while the large majority of our staff remain remote. We continue to provide the industry’s top contact validation tools to our customers, which can help clean up patient data in hospitals, provide geocoding data to first responders, and overall provide additional cleansed and accurate data to existing datasets. Like we have done with Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 dataset which you can read about and download here.

Prepared

As the world continues to adapt to the impacts of COVID-19, it brings with it change and uncertainty and for those who believed their work routine was a constant, this is especially true. For Service Objects, this has pandemic has tested our flexibility and resourcefulness. Fortunately, we have been able to maintain business as usual with little disruption to our staff and none for our customers.

By design, Service Objects has prepared for almost any situation, we may not have predicted something like COVID-19, but we were as prepared as we could be. I just wish they would have told me to invest in Zoom!

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