What it’s like starting a new job in lockdown
Software engineer Sohail Rahman was one day into his new role with BGL Tech when the company moved to full-scale remote working in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Here, he shares how BGL’s onboarding experience helped him get off to the right start:
My first day at BGL was March 16, 2020 — seven days before the UK was placed into strict lockdown. I was excited to start a new job and looking forward to the challenges ahead. In the back of my mind, however, I was aware things may be different to normal as coronavirus had just been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
My first day was pretty standard. When I arrived in Sunderland my manager got my ID card and showed me around the buildings. The offices were large, well-maintained and had lots of parking. In addition to this there was an on-site café and a retail park very close by.
After being shown around the tech hub I was introduced to various members of the team who were all friendly and welcoming. It was clear that BGL has invested greatly in having the right people and giving them everything they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
One of my first jobs was to set up my new laptop. Soon after we had a session where the team got to know me, and I got to know them all a bit better. We also discussed the team charter which was a great way for me to find out about how the team works and what’s expected. The office has large sofas and a TV link for people who are working remotely. This was a great way to break the ice and find out more about the team in an informal way.
Around lunchtime I got to explore the local area and grab some lunch with other members of the team. It quickly became apparent there were lots of food options and shops within walking distance. This was my last time going to Greggs before the lockdown rules were applied!
Later in the day I had a meeting booked in with Phil Johnson, one of the tech leads. This was very useful as the architecture of the systems and the processes in place were explained to me in detail. I was able to ask questions and get a greater understanding of what type of work I would be involved in.
Building new relationships while working remotely
On my second working day there was a trial for everyone to be working from home. Although BGL had an established flexible working culture, this was the first time the whole department had been asked to work from home.
Having the right tools available like Microsoft Teams was really useful. Over the next few days and weeks as it transpired my home was also my office for the foreseeable future, I realised what a great bunch of people I work with. Even though we were working from home, I was able to build good relationships with everyone and get to know people better. We frequently check-in on each other and have general catchups. As we follow the agile principles, we have regular stand-ups and retrospective sessions. Working from home couldn’t have gone any better.
BGL has quickly adapted its onboarding process so new recruits can now access key activities virtually including videos, online training and interactive Teams sessions. This allows them to connect with other new colleagues and takes them through the company’s strongly-embedded values and behaviours, as well as the history and structure of BGL. It also promotes the generous reward and wellbeing options on offer and how new starters can access these, not to mention the virtual tour of the offices which can be accessed via the onboarding portal.
Prior to lockdown new starters also spent a day volunteering in the local community. Now, BGL has set up a new portal where those who wish to volunteer (remotely or face-to-face) can search for opportunities.
All of this has really helped me settle in seamlessly to my new role. I would highly recommend BGL as a great business to work for and I look forward to my future within the company.
With over 10 million customers, BGL is a leading digital distributor of insurance and household financial services via brands including comparethemarket.com, Budget Insurance, Dial Direct and Beagle Street. It employs more than 3,000 people across its five sites in Peterborough, Sunderland, Wakefield, London and Paris.