The New Normal
What’s it like being a lockdown newbie?
I have now been working at Ogilvy for just over three months, and seeing as this is not only my first agency job, but also my first job in marketing and my first job following university, I knew there was going to be a steep learning curve. However what I couldn’t predict was that one month into this learning curve a pandemic would break out, and I’d be removed from the office and the colleagues who had been showing me the ropes.
Within a day I went from being in my teammates’ line of sight, meaning they were always there to direct, aid and answer any burning questions I had, to being on my own at home behind a computer. During the first week, what I found most striking was that any query I had or direction I needed was instantly formalised by the necessity to email or set up a call with someone. I quickly became paranoid that I may be nuisance owing to my frequent pinging of emails and Zoom requests.
However, it didn’t take long to find my groove. Working at home pushed me to develop skills and understanding of the agency process at a faster rate than I might have in office, and I soon adjusted to the fact that teammates were just a call away and more than happy to help.
Client relationships have also become more personal, owing to a mutual understanding that life is challenging at the best of times, but especially when you’re at home on a call and there’s excitable children or pets around.
Starting at Ogilvy was always going to be a welcome challenge, but my first three months have been novel in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.
As we went into lockdown, I was working through my notice period at GTB, where I’d spent the last 11 years on the Ford account. I packed up my bag on 16th March, naively thinking that we’d be back in a couple of weeks, a month, max. It never crossed my mind that not only would I have to leave my old job (saying good bye to people I’d worked with for years over Microsoft Teams!), but that I’d be starting my new one in lockdown!
When that day came, we were 6 weeks in, by which time I’d kind of settled into a routine and got to grips with working from home. But this was a bit different.
When you start any new job, you likely travel to a new office, have a new desk and are given a new PC and phone. So, it’s a very odd feeling when that physical experience is taken away from you. The closest thing to a physical marker on that first day was my email address changing.
Luckily for me, as I came from within the WPP network, I was able to spend a few Fridays at the office in Shere before lockdown. That gave me the opportunity to meet the team and see a little of the agency working - Not to mention squeeze in a lunchtime beer.
An early frustration when starting any new job, is the lack of knowledge you have and generally not knowing how ‘stuff’ works. Obviously, I have the ability to learn in the virtual sense, but it’s tough. I can’t overhear phone calls or conversations by my desk. I’m not witness to how people interact with each other or what the dynamics are.
But thankfully I do know how an agency works, the trick is to listen closer and try to recognise the unrecognisable. Then, if I haven’t worked it out with Google, I ask for someone to explain, usually caveated with ‘This may be obvious to you, but …?’
Everyone has their challenges, and this is just one of mine. And when we do go ‘back to the office’ it’s something we will all have to manage together. In a way it will be everyone’s first day again.