Hybrid Inclusion When Starting a New Job

10 November 2021

Starting a job can be stressful at the best of times, but what is it like to adjust to a new workplace, colleagues, and processes during a time of so much change and uncertainty? We spoke to Nora and Beth, who both joined the Steps UKE team in Spring 2021, about their experiences of feeling included when starting a new job during “the new normal”.   


Now that we’re a ‘Work from Anywhere’ organisation, most of the team is working remotely. How has that been challenging as a new starter? 

Beth: When I have started other jobs in person, getting to know the team has come naturally from sharing the same space. Even just a few days together can be a great indicator of people’s personalities and ways of working, so this had to be adapted when working online.    With no existing connections with the team, I was conscious that I wanted to be visible in adding value to the company. Even knowing Steps had made no redundancies, in the uncertainty of the pandemic, I was really keen to demonstrate my worth, by making sure I was present and taking up all the great opportunities to get involved that came my way. 


What have been the benefits for you from being able to work from anywhere?   

Nora: I actually received my invitation to interview with Steps right after flying to the US for my brother’s wedding. I was thrilled, but also worried that a job offer would mean having to get right back on a plane. In the end, the new policy meant I could extend my trip for an extra month! As an immigrant, it’s impossible for me to pop home over a weekend – so, for me, working from anywhere means not having to make the choice between seeing my family and saving my PTO. It also meant that my colleagues were flexible around my working hours while I was abroad – which is great, since I am definitely not a morning person!  Because Steps is such a global company, I never felt left out just because I wasn’t in London. And now that I’m back, it’s great to have the flexibility to work from home, but also have the option to work from our central hub space. 


How have you found working at the new Steps UKE Hub? 

Beth: I was invited to help with our office move and to share my opinions on what we might need in the new hub. In the end, we found that a coworking space better met our needs – with our own private office, and communal breakout space, which still gives us the flexibility we need and includes options for all working styles.  Having the option to connect with some of my London-based colleagues at the hub has had its benefits!  I spend one day every 1-2 weeks at the hub, which grants more opportunities for “informal development” through observing colleagues and in-person collaboration. We use our WhatsApp group to share when we are going into the hub, providing the opportunity to speak with different people and engage more with those I don’t always work with virtually. 


How have you been made to feel like part of the Steps team?   

Beth: When I started at Steps, I was given an induction booklet with useful information, tasks to work through, and an organogram (with my name already on it! - very inclusive). One task in my induction was to arrange 30-minute chats with each person in the Steps team. As I worked my way through the team, I learnt about their roles, background and got a much better sense of them as a person than is possible in large meetings. Their encouragement and enthusiasm made me feel welcomed to, and included in, the Steps team.    

Nora: I loved that I was treated like a valued and trusted member of the team from day one. My colleagues made sure I knew they were available to give advice and answer questions, but ultimately, they trusted me to structure my own time and figure out what worked best for me during my induction period. This level of trust and agency made me feel included even though I was spending most of my time working independently. I also really appreciated that new starters were given the same work-from-home equipment stipend that long-term colleagues had received during lockdown – which meant that we all had access to the same resources, regardless of our personal circumstances. We were informed of this from the start and encouraged to utilise this budget to cater for our needs when working remotely. I used mine to trade in my “standing desk converter” (read: folding laptop stand + wobbly stack of theatre textbooks) for an actual standing desk, which is the best decision I’ve ever made.  


What has helped the most to build relationships?   

Beth: In October, we had the first of Steps’ quarterly “Steps Together” event and I had the opportunity to meet many of our UK and Europe team in person for the first time. We spent two days exploring the topic of hybrid working, as well as spending some quality time together. One of the most valuable activities for me was the icebreaker where we played a ‘this or that’ game and shared our likes and dislikes – which enabled me get to know the team in a more informal capacity, and really helped to build relationships through the remainder of our stay. We also had the chance to share our lockdown experiences in an open space, which created a level of intimacy with the group and a feeling of acceptance and inclusion.   Since the residential, I have felt better acquainted and more unified with the UKE team. I look forward to January, when we will meet again, this time joined by our US and India colleagues for a truly globally inclusive get together. 


Did you gain anything from meeting the team in person, that you may not have remotely?   

Beth: One of my biggest takeaways from the residential, was gaining a greater sense of Steps’ company culture. The Steps charter celebrates openness, collaboration, integrity, and support, which were embodied at the residential, although they had been visible remotely. The opportunity for in-person collaboration bred lots of fruitful conversations and a buzz of creativity. I felt valued giving my input on our business plan and shared a feeling of being refreshed and motivated to continue to develop, building on the feeling of inclusion Steps has brought ever since I started.