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Tips for starting a new job during the COVID-19 pandemic

Blog by Sarah Mackenzie and Lauren Spark, our two newest team members

Starting a new job can be nerve-racking at the simplest of times, however, starting a new job during a global pandemic adds an extra layer of uncertainties to the mix. On the first day that the UK launched a national lockdown, The Data Lab welcomed two new team members to the squad. We asked Lauren and Sarah to talk about their experience and give us their top ‘first day at work tips’ for anyone else walking into a new career start during these unsettled times.

  • Trial run your tech before your first day – “User name cannot be found”. Your ‘Change password’ link gets sent to an e-mail address you can’t access yet. Sound familiar? Most of us experience at least one (if not more) wonderful tech glitches when starting in a new company. Prepare by familiarising yourself with the on-boarding processes in place. Make sure you’ve looked through any of the kit and system access that’s required. Check your tech is set up well in advance and (if possible) ask for the contact details for relevant people. This way, you’ll be less likely to hit a stumbling block and won’t have to resort to running around your living room in a complete panic.
  • Have a daily planned routine – In a ‘real’ office environment, your first week’s meetings would be scheduled around most people being in the same place. Lunch would fall at a similar time to everyone else and a quick tea break could be fit in around your colleague’s timetables. With so many people juggling (and adjusting to) new childcare needs/ working from home/ supporting neighbours etc, this is a lot harder to replicate in an online environment. Create your own daily schedule by setting your alarm for the same time each day, penciling in a tea break, allocating a lunch slot and allow a short period for exercise. The routine will help you feel more in control and, in turn, more at home in your new ‘surroundings’.
  • Ask questions, but prioritise – We’re guilty of wanting to know the answer to EVERYTHING we can possibly digest as soon as we start a new job. It makes us feel calm. It’s natural to fear the unknown, so try telling yourself that you’re not uncertain, you’re just curious. Write down a list of question and break them into levels of importance. Your new team might also feel overwhelmed by the new changes and overloading them with absolutely everything you want to know might feel a bit intense.
  • Reach out for connections – Whilst most worries are amplified by the formality of starting a new job via Zoom calls and e-mail discussions, reaching out to say, “Hello” to new colleagues is actually easier via an online platform. Just think, no awkward shuffling across to unfamiliar desks to explain why you’ve come over! Take the opportunity to learn who your team are and gradually drop each of them an e-mail asking for a quick 5-minute catch up to learn about exactly what they do.
  • Take a lead from the office culture – If good culture is something you widely promote and your reputation is built around it, how does going remote effect that? Answer: it doesn’t! One of the first things our CEO said to us was, “We won’t be offended if you call our baby ugly”. Having just received a little wave from Gillian’s BEAUTIFUL daughter on the morning Teams call, this could have been misconstrued. However, the ‘baby’ Gillian was referring to was The Data Lab. And, immediately it felt right to hear, “OUR baby”, because that’s exactly what it is. Everyone has a voice in TDL, it’s not just a marketing ploy. Everyone contributes to its growth and everyone provides support and guidance.
  • Lower your expectation of yourself – We swithered about putting this one down in writing, but agreed its good advice, given the unusual circumstances. At the end of her first day, Sarah caught up with a friend who runs a successful business supporting people with their mental health. She’d explained to her that we were keen to prove to everyone that they’d hired the right person for the job. We’d already frantically started making notes and plans and were worried about how to translate this virtually. Her advice, “Lower your expectation of yourself right now. Your team already know you’re adjusting, they’re all figuring out their roles in a new space too. They know you’re doing all of this in the midst of a global crisis”.


Lauren and Sarah join The Data Lab team as part of our new business advisory service, TORCH. TORCH addresses the challenges faced by many businesses when starting on their data journey, bringing companies from all sectors together and initiating business to business collaboration.
Why not learn more about TORCH and how these services might benefit you.



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