Three thoughts on changing jobs during a global pandemic

An article written by our consultant Erica Gavefalk.

Earlier this year, I changed my job. I was a consultant working at a large company, and I decided to leave to join Mpya Digital.

As the pandemic tightened its grip on the world, I began to feel uncertain. Do I dare to change jobs when I hear about other people who are being forced to leave theirs? Is it smart to leave the security I have for something unknown?

Then, on my first day, during a ‘virtual breakfast’ with my new colleagues, I was asked:

“What expectations
do you have
for working here?”

I was thrown.

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“Much of the last year
has been about
expectation management.”

Usually in an onboarding process you just sit back and listen, but here I was being asked my opinion! I can’t even remember what my answer was. I mumbled something and we moved on.

But as time has passed, I have been thinking more about that question: What were my expectations on myself and on my new workplace?

I have tried to summarize my answer into these three thoughts:

Expectation management

Like everyone, much of the last year has been about expectation management. I have been out less, met fewer people, and celebrated big occasions on a much smaller scale. In the same way, I lowered my expectations of what my new job would be like. I knew many parts of the onboarding process would be digital and it would take a little bit longer before I had the chance to meet my new colleagues properly, and not just online.

I also knew I would be very tired when Friday came. Starting a new place, whether it’s a job, school or something completely different tends to be quite overwhelming for me. It drains a lot of energy and usually makes me mentally tired. But, actually, I’ve felt energised by the strange work environment caused by the pandemic.

I have enjoyed a nice mix of being at the office occasionally, and at home the rest of the time. Every time I went in I met a few new people, so I could take the time to get to know them more in depth. It has taken longer to meet everyone, but the connections have been deeper.

Honesty is the best policy

The second expectation I have pondered on is about trust. I know from the past that I am at my best when I get the opportunity to work on something I think is fun. For me to thrive as a consultant, I need an assignment that suits me, my profile and where I want to evolve. Clearly this means that there may also be assignments that don’t suit me.

Previously, I have found it difficult to be honest when faced with a situation like that. I would hate to disappoint someone by turning down a request – especially when I am so new.

But my colleagues have already given me an enormous sense of security. They trust in my assessment of each assignment, and I know they will listen to and value my opinion. This builds confidence within me and I believe it makes me a better consultant and colleague because of the mutual respect that has already developed between us.

Caring for your colleagues

The final thought on what I have learned, is how much everyone seems to care.

I might be on my own a lot of the time, but I’ve never felt isolated. So many people have taken the time to check in with me, even though they don’t yet know me in person. Every phone call or chat message really makes a difference. If I need help with something, or if I just need to talk to someone because I feel uncertainty in these difficult times, I know there will always be someone I can turn to.

This is something that I value highly. It has made me feel like I am a big part of the company even though I have just started. These small messages have got me thinking about what I can do to check in with people:

Who have I not talked to in a while that I could send a message to? Who might be going through a tough time and need a chat over a coffee?

Most importantly, I know that everyone at Mpya Digital truly values my thoughts, opinions and feelings. Here, it is the people that matter the most. It has meant that I feel empowered in my new role, rather than uncertain.

So, was changing jobs during the pandemic a smart move? Was it worth leaving the security of my last role in the hope of finding something better?

My answer has to be a huge ‘YES!’ – it has been fun, exciting and enlightening.

Even though that original uncertainty still sneaks up on me sometimes it is no longer a thought I hold on to. It has been a time for reflection and for moving closer to finding my purpose. For understanding what brings joy to my life. 

Above all, my new colleagues have well and truly exceeded my expectations! Right from the start, they made me feel welcome, comfortable, and safe in the knowledge that I am an important part of Mpya Digital.

// Erica Gavefalk