It’s almost like a scene from a Hollywood summer blockbuster.

Two unsuspecting employees are ready to start their first day at a prestigious new job, but alas, the apocalypse has arrived with all its might.

Confusion runs supreme.

Misinformation spreading like wild fire.

Chaos is at the centre of everything.

Granted, that piece of fiction above is a tad on the dramatic side. But facts, they say, can be stranger than fiction.

As we have it, Sarah Andiyani Putri and Indira Anditha found themselves in a similar situation.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic were to reach, well, pandemic proportions, both of them had accepted two different positions at NAVA+ respectively, Sarah as an Account Manager and Indira (or Indi as she is more affectionately known) as Human Capital Shared Services Supervisor.

However, just as they were to take their respective positions, the coronavirus crisis had reached Indonesia and was spreading at an alarming rate. Lockdown procedures were to follow, and their entire recruitment process were thrown into the wind. Whereas a normal recruitment process

In today’s article, we caught up with both Sarah and Indi to ask them about the curious experience that is starting a new job under unprecedented

Please paint me a picture of your process of joining the company.

Sarah (S): I was first contacted by my immediate PIC on February 12, 2020. At that time, the world has already been warned about the dangers of COVID-19, however the Indonesian government have not yet applied social distancing as the number of infected patients still can be counted on one hand. However, several weeks after that, this virus has spread rapidly without anybody seemingly making any preparations for it. It was perhaps only in early March that Indonesia started to enforce lockdown measures, first in the greater Jakarta area, then in other cities. I remember my first interview with my supervisors still going smoothly.

Indira (I): It was pretty much the same for me. I underwent my first interview in mid-February and from thereon, the process was quite rapid. The second and third interviews followed in quick succession, and before I knew it, I was officially offered the position during the first week of March. As everything had been set, I was going to officially start in my new position by the first week of April (taking into consideration my one-month notice). During this entire time, the COVID-19 pandemic had already started to escalate rapidly. By the time I was officially offered the job, the city had already been under lockdown (PSBB).

When was your first day and at what stage was the COVID-19 pandemic at?

S: My first day was on April 13th and by this stage I think more than 2,000 people had already tested positive for COVID-19 in Indonesia, which made my first day ridiculously short (laughs). As far as NAVA+ was concerned, the company had already underwent pretty much full Work From Home mode as early as mid-March. So yes, my first day was extremely short. I think it was a mere 45-minute induction period and I was done before lunchtime.

I: Well I actually was quite worried on whether everything will go smoothly. I had already officially resigned from my previous job as of the final week of March, whereas my first day was just slightly before actually, it was on April 6. That one-week gap (give or take) was enough to make me quite worried on whether I’d even get to start my new job at all (laughs). But in all seriousness, I had no idea how to start a new job where a few people had to handover their work to me without having the chance to physically meet-up. Because as you might as well know, when these things happen (job handover), it’s a lot of the non-verbal communication that help a newbie ease-into a new job. However my worries were quite unfounded as I did have a short handover period at the office before continuing the process digitally. It ended up being quite a smooth process.

What are the challenges of starting a new job from home during the pandemic?

S: Well it’s obviously harder. Well perhaps harder isn’t the most correct term to use, but it was definitely weirder (laughs). First of all there’s limited communication, limited time in acclimatising and definitely a whole new ‘feel’ due to the absence of any physical contact whatsoever. But as they say, the show must go on! In essence, I had to learn to work (and catch up) independently yet I was also lucky that I was part of a very cooperative team who were always there to answer even the most mundane of questions. As far as working from home was concerned, I naturally had to get used to upping my self discipline and to divide me time better. As with everyone, I guess.

I: Good lord there are quite a few (laughs). First of all, and perhaps most importantly, I had to be introduced to me team. Quite a large team at that. And having to work from home from the get go, it was harder for me to get a sense of the company culture, do you know what I mean? And then of course there’s the potential misunderstandings that may occur due to the absence of non-verbal communication that I alluded to earlier. One final point is that as part of the Human Capital team, there were still many hard copies that needed to be worked on (contracts, etc.), so getting them were obviously more tricky than during ‘normal times’.

How do you envisage things will change for you once the pandemic is over?

S: Well first things first: I’d have to familiarise myself with the ‘New Normal’. By that I mean I’d need to get used to the super hygiene mode of people and fit in accordingly. Lunches for the first few weeks will definitely be awkward (laughs). But in the longer run, the social distancing period will definitely have an impact on us when we start going to the office again. For instance, perhaps it’s possible to do way more of these video conferences to save time and transport money. That can only be a good thing, no?

I: To be honest, I can’t wait! To put my analytical hat for one moment, it’ll be fascinating to see for the first time how the chemistry of the team will be. How the interactions will be from everyone, particularly with my superiors and team-mates I’ll have daily interactions with. Because don’t forget, this will be more or less brand new for me. In that sense, I think I’ll pretty much be a newbie again, even with the few months experience interacting virtually. And as Sarah pointed out, there’ll be perhaps many things we can take away from the WFH period: more efficient ways in communicating. In short, I can’t wait!

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