Have you wondered what it’s like to join a new team… virtually? Hastings Direct welcomed Sam to the business during Lockdown 1.0. She tells us about onboarding when you haven’t met your colleagues in person… it’s going well, she scooped an award for ‘Best Newcomer’ within our Commercial, Digital and Marketing department.

Tell us about your background and what led you to join Hastings Direct
I left school at 16 not really knowing what I wanted to do in life, so I got a job to earn some money to pay for my driving lessons. I was still with the same company 15 years later, but I’d had a variety of job roles from data entry when I joined, through to Client Operations Manager. I discovered a passion for digital and software, and luckily I had the opportunity to become a Product Owner. A contact who had moved to Hastings a year prior reached out to me when there a Product Owner vacancy. The recruitment process was fantastic; I was fully informed of what Hastings Direct ‘were about’, their goals and the job specification, and it really felt like a good fit for me. 

How did you find joining Hastings during lockdown? What support have you had to be successful?
The support I received from Hastings started well before my first day! I received regular calls from the recruitment team, checking in on me and reassuring me that everything was on course for my start date regardless of the lockdown restrictions. And before my start date, I’d received all of my IT equipment, including instructions on how to set everything up. 

I was assigned a fellow Product Owner to shadow and learn from virtually. He gave me all the time I needed and was always available for questions. Everyone within the business that I’ve needed to speak with, or learn from, has always made themselves available for me. I was also blown away by how much time we are given with our senior leaders to learn about the wider business strategy and how each department is working together to achieve the same goals. 

I have found Hastings to be very focused on the wellbeing of its people – we have a lot of tools available to us if we are struggling and this wasn’t just mentioned on my first day, we are constantly reminded of it from our managers, senior leaders and in weekly employee communications. This has made me feel really supported whilst facing the challenges of not being able to see family and having my five year old son at home whilst learning my new role.  ​​​​​​​

How have you found adjusting to a new company whilst working remotely and what’s the best piece of ‘working at home’ advice you could offer?
Working from home has had its challenges, however I have everything I need to communicate effectively and sometimes it even feels like I could be sitting next to my colleagues whilst we’re all on call! Although I have never met any of them in person, I absolutely feel like part of the Hastings family and even though there’s thousands of people here, I still feel my voice is important and is heard. 

My advice to be able to work at home effectively is to stick to a routine – get up and walk around when you have been staring at your laptop for hours and to try to take breaks to get some fresh air. When you are finished for the day, do something which will gives you time to unwind before starting your evening with your family.​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​So, did you make the right decision joining Hastings?
Absolutely! Having left the company I had worked for all of my adult life (and during a pandemic!), I was of course anxious given the economic challenges the country has experienced and witnessing so many well-known companies having to make people redundant. However, I was brave and determined to take the opportunity to join Hastings – it’s meant I could further my career in an area that I love.

If you’d like to be part of a team working together to support each other and the business, while delivering for our customers, click here to check out our current vacancies and apply