Starting a New Job in Lockdown - What I’ve Learned in My First 3 Months at Aira

I started my new role as a digital PR executive at Aira just one week before lockdown (great timing I know). When I got the call to say that I would be starting my new position at home, my immediate thought was ‘Uh oh’. 

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to settle in properly and that I wouldn’t feel like a proper team member - would I even know what on earth to do? But Slack and Zoom are wonderful things and whilst it hasn’t come without its challenges, I’ve learned a huge amount in this time.

Here are some of the challenges I’ve faced and key things I’ve learned in my first three months working remotely at Aira:

Organisation is key

Everyone who’s ever worked in an agency will know that organisation is key to staying on top of your to-do list. The main thing that I have learnt in my first three months at Aira is to plan my day, every day.

I thought I was an organised person until I started at Aira - I’d worked in an agency previously but never as a ‘proper employee’, and as an intern I always felt I got the non-essential jobs. Now that I’m a proper employee, I get all the good stuff, which means that I have to prioritise tasks on a daily basis to make sure everything is done on time. 

Mapping out my day into hours really works and helps me focus, as I know I only have an hour or so to do that certain task.

Outreach in the morning

In some roles, you can tick off your to-do list in any order you like, but as a digital PR, a little more thought has to go into it. Outreaching in the morning may sound like an obvious thing to some, but to me it was a revelation. 

At first, I was outreaching to journalists in the afternoons and even just before I was about to ‘go home’, and I wouldn’t see any replies until the morning. 

Outreaching in the morning means you have all day to reply to journalists if they come back to you, instead of rushing out a response that might cost you an all-important link. Sending pitches out in the morning is not only good for to-do lists, but also for the journalist. Journalists want stories before their morning meetings - so it’s beneficial for both parties to get in there early.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get links straight away

As soon as I sent my first pitch to a journalist, I expected links to just roll on in (even though I’ve had experience in link building and know this isn’t always how it works). I was slightly disappointed when links were coming in for everyone else, and not for me. I had to remember, it’s a hard time for everyone - journalists included, which can mean links are harder to come by. When I did get my first link though, it was even better because it meant I was definitely doing something right.

Lockdown challenges

While I feel I have adapted well to working from home in a new role, there have been some challenges. In a company of around 40, I have only met a handful of people in real life. Again, Slack and Zoom are my best friends, and I often forget that I am talking to people I have never met before.

The group chat fear is real - I didn’t realise it was a thing until I got it. Sending a message and notification to upwards of 40 people that I haven’t met? No thanks. This might sound like a minor thing, but when you start at a new company, you need to ask a lot of questions, so it was a challenge I needed to get over quickly. 

I found that it was a fine balance of making sure I wasn’t sending too many messages and bombarding people, while making sure I got the help I needed for daily tasks. But the culture at Aira has meant that as time has gone on, I’ve been encouraged to ask more questions and ask for support when I need it. When it comes to the bigger, full-agency Slack chats, I do send the occasional GIF for somebody’s birthday - baby steps.

Upsides of working from home

Starting a new role anywhere can be daunting enough, let alone starting remotely. The main aspect of this that I’ve enjoyed has been getting to do things at my own pace. I was able to re-read my induction document multiple times so I knew what I was meant to be doing for each video call meeting and introduction. It also meant that I was able to let people know when I was ready, and I was able to fully digest the information before going onto another call. In the usual office setting, I might have felt pressured to be ready straight away.

I’m also still very much enjoying waking up 30 minutes before I start work - I’ve already forgotten what I normally do before work each morning pre-lockdown!

And…I have visited the office a grand total of 4 times - twice for my interviews, once on my first day for a couple of hours for my induction, and once to get my office chair. It’s my ‘fun’ go-to fact when I catch up with someone who asks about my new role.

Opportunity to grow

From the very start, it was clear that I would have the opportunity to progress in my career at Aira. With colleagues speaking at virtual conferences, internal training sessions and monthly reviews, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many opportunities there are to grow, both professionally and personally. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so grateful for my role at Aira and why I wanted to join in the first place.

Back to the office

The first three months have flown by and, surprisingly, I haven’t missed working in an office. I haven’t experienced the Aira office properly yet and so I’m looking forward to when we’re able to be there together. I’ll finally be able to meet my colleagues who I’ve been working with for the last three, nearly four months and most importantly, meet Paddy’s dog Rolo.

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