Starting a new job in lockdown – Flip Kulakiewicz

Posted on March 24, 2021

Flip is a Volunteer Engagement Officer at ProjectScotland, supporting the team of Engagement Managers across the country, and is often the first point of contact for volunteers. She joined our team in August 2020.

We asked Flip to tell us about her experience of starting a new job during the Covid19 pandemic. 

As a team, we have grown closer in spite of the restrictions on movement. We have found ways to catch up, collaborate, and importantly support one another as well as our volunteers through what has been a challenging 12 months for us all.

But, how does it feel to start a brand new role, remotely?

How are you finding our  ‘new normal’ and remote working?

The situation for me has been a bit different because I started with ProjectScotland remotely. Before I started my role here, I was doing bits of freelance work and basically would plonk myself down on the kitchen table or sofa with my laptop when needed. Starting at ProjectScotland encouraged me to create a dedicated work space in my flat, with a proper desk and chair. This helped carve out a corner just for work and provided me with more of a routine and separation between my work and home life during lockdown.

How has it changed your working day and your approach to work?

Initially it was weird, starting a new job during a national lockdown. And it felt both scary and liberating to be my own boss at home! Unfortunately, I found myself over-compensating by being on my laptop all the time and not moving from my desk. 

After a few months I decided, as well as receiving encouragement from colleagues who were doing something similar, to make sure I went out for a walk every day at lunchtime and that has been SO important and helpful for my concentration.

What have you learned this year, about yourself, the team and working styles?

In terms of working style, I’ve definitely had to adjust to working alone. I’m a ‘people person’ and really thrive off the energy of having colleagues around me. Therefore, spending time solely in my own company was always going to be a challenge. 

What has been really interesting is discovering how much you can still create a team bond while working remotely. I haven’t met most of my colleagues in real life, but still feel I have got to know them and really enjoy our weekly meetings and catch ups. 

This applies to the volunteers I am in contact with as well. Part of my role involves supporting the Mentoring Team, getting in touch with young people who have been working one-on-one with our Engagement Managers, and finding out more about their interests and specific needs. This information is then used to match them to a Mentor. 

Our conversations always took place over the phone and I have enjoyed the opportunity to have direct contact with young people in this way. It’s not the same as being able to meet up in person but you can still have really valuable and insightful interactions. It really did show me the importance of the work we are doing in terms of supporting people who have been going through challenging times and suddenly had a lot of opportunities halted due to the pandemic.

Final thoughts?

Online tech is brilliant and I’m sure we’ll be going back to a new blended system of working, but for me nothing beats working alongside people. 

It’s definitely something I won’t take for granted and I cannot wait until we can all be in the same physical meeting room, office or coffee shop together again.