Lockdown Diary: Starting a New Job in the Middle of Coronavirus

Chris Lawson

Prior to my first week at Junction-18, I didn’t have any work on. Lockdown had just begun and my partner, who is a primary school teacher had been sent home from work indefinitely. While spending all this unexpected time together, we tried our best to establish some kind of routine to help us cope with the stress and to help me transition into my new full-time role.

The truth was neither of us really have had time to process the situationand we are still working out what our new “normal” looks like. We take it day by day. All of my interests tend to revolve around being outdoors so I’ve had to really work to find new ways to relax.

In the current climate, I was just really grateful that I had a new job to go to and I was impressed in general by the outlook of the company and their commitment to bringing me on board with the original schedule we discussed.

Monday, March 30th: Remote Induction During a Pandemic

Although I have worked in digital and web design for a very long time, I've spent the majority of my career in a traditional office setting. The few times I have worked from home, it has been the odd day here and there, so the prospect of starting a job where I would be working remote indefinitely caused me some anxiety and apprehension going into my first day.

I had my induction with Gerry at 11 am. As an unexpected bonus, I met Gerry's wife and kids on the video call as well. It was the most unusual induction I've ever had, but much more personal in a lot of ways than simply sitting in an office together. During the call, I really got to know Gerry and it struck me how unprecedented all this is for the Junction-18, as well as for Gerry and myself.

Tuesday, March 31st: Getting to Know My Colleagues via Videochat

In terms of a working day, I'm currently familiarizing myself with the company its ongoing projects, clients, and the processes they use. The real highlight today was getting to meet everyone in the team over videochat and find out about what they do. The one thing that struck me was how relaxed everyone seems to be about such a chaotic situation. Everyone seems relatively unphased and pretty comfortable with one another.

It was also interesting to learn that there are several members of the team who permanently work remotely and this new way of working has actually been more social because the company intentionally carves out a portion of every workday where the team all get together and chat online, the "Quarantine Socials." And these chats only started once the lockdown began. It’s really nice to be connected with people in other parts of the country and world who share different perspectives on the lockdowns in their locations.

Outside of work downtime is a little strange right now. I’ve been trying to keep up with a lot of friends and family. Frankly, I talk to them more so than I normally do which is nice. I’ve found I’m tending to act in more tangential ways maybe as a way to push against the rigid nature of day to day life. I shaved myself a mohawk just for a laugh. Making light of the situation and making others laugh seems to help me feel better as well.

No alt text provided for this image

Wednesday, April 1st: Making the Best of a Tough Thing

I’ve been continuing to brush up on certain skills, as well as learn and develop in some new areas. If anything I feel a little guilty that I’m not yet picking up a lot of specific tasks. We had a video conference about upcoming projects that helped clarify more elements for me. The strange thing is how relaxed the work culture is here and how unphased everyone seems!

In today's Quarantine Social we had a quiz and a random Q&A that was really funny! These socials have quickly become the highlight of the day for me.

Outside of work friends that I rock climb with have been using pull up bars to try and reenact and practice climbing techniques at home. As a side project, I rigged a carabiner to the top of my bars and practiced tying an “Italian hitch” one-handed then abseiling from it. It was great to get my climbing harness back on and just do something stupid!

Chris' corona climbing setup from Junction-18 on Vimeo.

Obviously, we aren't going anywhere now but the time together still seems important. I've found that I'm making calls back home to my parents, sister and nephews in Leeds and face-timing friends I know are struggling...friends I should have caught up with a lot sooner before all this started. I feel like I'm being a better son, uncle, and friend. I suppose I just feel a little ashamed it's taken this for me to be that person and hope I continue to make more of an effort with all the people that are so important to me once the lockdown is over.