I joined Homes England in March and it’s been a whirlwind start, to say the least!
It was particularly strange for me as I had a largely smooth end to my time at GDS, followed by 2 weeks abroad for my Honeymoon – The beaches of Mauritius seem a very long time ago! I returned home rested and eager to get going. Two weeks into my tenure here…the lockdown started. So no sooner had I met a few colleagues and began to get my feet under the table, I found myself back at home!
At that time, London appeared to be the part of the country where the Coronavirus had a particularly strong grip on. It was difficult to leave the house, to get supplies and I was concerned about my family and friends. Thankfully, we’ve been able to get through it but it added another layer of complexity to an already arduous start for any new employee. As the days wore on, my attention diverted to things you wouldn’t usually think of. For example, having to play a form of musical chairs with my wife to avoid having meetings at the same time; or frantically trying to get those pesky strands of hair, rebelliously sticking out, to sit flat just as the webcam turns on.
On the work front, it’s been a challenging but equally engaging first few months here. It wasn’t particularly the technology side of things that I found difficult. In fact, in several of the previous roles I’ve worked with teams and people who were based right across the world, so communicating and collaborating through technology was an easy transition. As a new starter, naturally, I’ve been involved in a lot of meetings. Whilst they have been crucial for me to build a relationship with my colleagues and to make my mark in Digital, on occasions, I have found myself completely shattered by the end of the day due to the number of meetings I have. Some things I’ve tried to do in recent weeks to help has been to include a clear agenda to meetings, reduce meeting lengths, have a discussion on Teams instead of meetings and blocking out some ‘Focus Time’ on Outlook.
Despite the demanding start, I’ve been fortunate to have incredibly supportive colleagues who have helped me settle in quickly. I’ve been given the confidence and freedom to introduce new initiatives, share my ideas and challenge where appropriate. I cannot emphasise enough the difference it makes to someone who’s just joined when you know your colleagues trust you and your expertise – Hand on heart, I don’t think I’ve ever felt part of the furniture as fast as I have done here at Homes England.
As Lead Delivery Manager, my main focus early on has been to support the Delivery and Product Support teams Digital. To start, we have now kicked off a series of coaching sessions covering a range of topics from Agile Ways of Working to User Research. On top of this, we have been working hard on a comprehensive Delivery Guidebook that will act as a point of reference for Teams and we will be iterating this over time as we grow and establish best practice in Digital. Next, I have been working closely with Heads of professions to implement multidisciplinary teams who will spearhead our delivery effort. Finally, we’ve worked closely with existing teams to understand their ways of working and thought about how we could potentially improve on it.
Lastly, I’d like to just say how great it was to facilitate the COVID-19 Digital stand-ups. I was immensely proud how we all adapted and rose to the challenge at short notice. Whilst my contribution was quite small, across digital, we displayed all the best attributes during this crisis by the way we responded to change, self-organised and collaborated to support the whole organisation.
I’m taking a much-needed break next week to focus on the last week of Ramadan and to recoup my energy for all the exciting things to come on the flip side. If you want to know more about anything I mentioned above please feel free to get in touch on Teams.
Thank you for reading!