When the first days of work coincide with the start of quarantine: the experiences of Jurga and Julija


The national and global lockdown not only forced everyone to quickly learn how to work from home but also changed the work principles that were considered common or self-evident. Let's take recruitment and onboarding, for example. Job interviews conducted by companies remotely is not a new practice and is often applied in international companies with branches in various countries. But to get on board and start working in a company remotely is something new that employees needed to invent themselves and figure out how it will work. That was the challenge that two of our colleagues faced - Talent Attraction specialist Jurga Schulze and Personnel Coordinator Julija Stanaitytė who were employed at Centric before the quarantine and thus had to spend their first days and months at a new job not being physically in the office but meeting and communicating with colleagues online.

"In fact, everything went much smoother than expected. The start-up plan prepared by the Centric team was great. During the first intensive week, I learned a lot from my predecessor Agnė Jankauskė, who handed over her work to me. The meeting with the teams, the company's employees was perfectly organized. The flawlessness of the introduction was also evidenced by the fact that I immediately felt like a member of the family. Everyone welcomed me very warmly and in good faith, inquiring if I needed any help.

Perhaps, learning how to work remotely, had been a bigger challenge. Like any of us, I had to find a work-life balance, learn to work, and live in the same living space.

What helped me the most? A routine established at home and rituals that separate the work part and the part of everyday life. It helps to switch psychologically. For example, to change clothes for work, prepare the workspace, creating your own corner in advance, which would only be intended for work.

During the quarantine, the recruitment process at Centric IT Solutions Lithuania did not stop. We are currently looking for people for five positions, and we will soon start selecting the trainees. Therefore, in these months alone, I had to conduct a dozen online job interviews.

By the way, these interviews also had significant advantages. The most essential one - quickly and easily agreed on interview time with a candidate. In fact, virtually all interviewees were glad they didn't have to physically come to the office, and would easily find time in their schedules for an interview. Another obvious advantage was that people, being in their own environments, were more relaxed, less tense and sometimes all the parties to the conversation were entertained by some small household incident, such as a child suddenly running into a room or a loud plane flying over."

"On the one hand, taking over the tasks of my predecessor Eglė Valantinė remotely was an absolutely new experience, but on the other hand, each of us adapted and learned to work in new conditions, so in a sense, this new situation helped me create the most appropriate and effective ways to complete tasks, to communicate, to learn which new practices to implement, and which absorb.

It is obvious that quarantine forced to review the processes of various companies and departments, optimize and change them and Centric was no exception. Recently we participated in the survey on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on businesses. As the results of the survey showed, the biggest challenge for practically all businesses was internal communication, and the integration of new employees appeared in the second place.

One of the new things I suggested when I started working at Centric was to guess less about what people think on one or another issue and ask more often. It also helps to better understand what the organization is like and what are the moods in the team that works remotely. Some of the answers were pleasantly surprising. Let's say that it turned out that most colleagues consider this period to be extremely productive - they manage to do much more during the same period than before quarantine. One more change was a significant increase in communication between employees, perhaps they were trying to compensate for the lack of socialization.

Of course, we all missed people during this period. Therefore, together with our head Paulius, we organized a donut campaign - personally delivered a box of donuts to all employees. It was a complete impromptu and a surprise. From a safe distance, we were able to say hello, smile at each other, and ask how they were doing.

To sum up the changes, I would say that this period has helped us all realize that the processes of work organization, when working from home, do not suffer. There was a time when we all knew how to work in offices. During these two months, we learned how to work remotely, and now, it is time to learn how to combine these two ways, i.e. working with those who are in the office and those who are online. We all face challenges and issues (how will work culture and organization change?) that we will address together.

I believe that the whole recruitment process will change. It was simple until now: you come to work in a new company, get to know everyone, see how the processes work, delve deeply into your tasks, find information and all that takes from 2 to 4 weeks. However, I believe that from now on, the integration of the employee into the company will take place in two stages. In the first stage, we will learn to work remotely and communicate with colleagues online. In the second stage, we will come to the office where other principles of work organization, socialization, and productivity measurement will be in place. In other words, we will have to be able to work both online and in combination."