New joiner, Maya, had only spent two weeks on her first client project when she was swept into lockdown. She’s back on site now, but learnt a lot about how to stay positive working from home. Here she offers advice to other grads who are still working remotely.

Accenture is my first full-time corporate role. I recently graduated with a double degree: Bachelor of International Security Studies and Bachelor of Languages. I joined Accenture Canberra because I want to work with government and the firm is at the forefront of new technology trends helping out the public sector – plus it has a cool security stream!

Starting my new job was exciting and scary enough as it was. Then the pandemic hit and everything got harder.

Looking back, my cohort (the Feb 2020 Canberra grads) was lucky. We were able to have our New Joiner Orientation together in Sydney and without that experience, I think I would be lost. I then immediately rolled onto my first project and had two weeks on the client site before COVID hit, so I got to meet my team face-to-face.

Due to the nature of my project, the majority of the team remained on site. Fortunately, my role is one that can be done remotely. I have an autoimmune disease, putting me in the high-risk category for COVID, and so it was important that I took matters into my own hands. Accenture was careful to take my health into consideration and was accommodating when I decided to pack up and moved to Sydney to be with my parents. I soon returned to work in the office once it was safe to do so.

My supervisor was really great during this time. She was always there, checking in on me. If I was still online quite late, she’d ping me to make sure I was OK. She went back onsite before me and was fantastic at keeping me in the loop.

Meanwhile, my grad cohort started a Thursday night virtual drinks session to catch up and ask the questions we were too nervous to ask people on our projects. In our sessions, we’ve enjoyed Pictionary (screen sharing and drawing on Microsoft paint), Trivia (using Kahoot) and Charades!

Virtual team catch up

We also did ‘MTV Welcome to my Crib’ style house tours. It was great to get to know each other a bit better and see all the different WFH setups. I loved meeting everyone’s furry – or not so furry – friends. One Canberra grad has a snake!

I can’t stress how beneficial these weekly chats have been while I was working remotely. To have an informal get together with people who are in the same boat as you was so comforting. Plus, when we do eventually get to go to that Christmas party, we’ll know some friendly faces outside our projects! It’s so great to see the grads supporting each other and bonding during these times.

I’m back on site now, which I’m really enjoying. It was amazing to see the team again and start working collaboratively side by side. I no longer feel like I’m annoying everyone with my constant messages over Teams.

I’m looking forward to the way the world of work is going to change after the pandemic. I think working from home when you need to will become much more acceptable. For those like me who have a chronic illness - we have our good days and our bad days. Now that society has proven that working from home is a feasible option, I’m hoping that on those bad days, when going to the office isn’t ideal, we can easily say: “Hey, I’m working from home today.”

For those with young families, I see much more acceptance of flexible working arrangements. I think companies will be more relaxed about parents taking after-school time off to be with their kids and then logging on later to finish their day’s work. As someone who might want a family one day, this is the kind of future I’m looking forward to. At Accenture, you can already see this in action with flexible working options you can tailor to your situation – and no ‘one size fits all’ expectations.

My tips for new joiners working remotely

  • Work to set time periods – I start at 8:30am sharp every morning and made sure I took an hour’s lunch break. I ate a proper meal, went outside and talked to my family. I also tried to stick to a hard stop time, although I wasn’t always good at that. I’m the sort of person who tends to keep working until the job is done!
  • Use a Kanban board – I found this really helpful when working from home. I used a whole wall and a bunch of colour coordinated sticky notes to track TO DO, IN PROGRESS, DONE! I used green for everyday project tasks, yellow for bigger project tasks and pink for fun Accenture stuff, like doing a learning module, having a virtual coffee catch up or listening to a town hall. I made sure I did at least one pink task every week. And I felt great satisfaction moving post-it notes into the done column.
  • Have a shut-down ritual – It’s important to have a clear separation between work and home life, which is hard if home is just a few steps away! I learnt to take a few breaths, look at my kanban board to reassure myself I’d accomplished something and then shut off my laptop. Next, I’d workout before joining my parents for dinner.

    Now I’m back on site, I’m still using a ritual. I check off what I’ve achieved, make sure everything else can wait ‘til tomorrow, log off and reset on the drive home. By the time I get home, I’m not thinking about work. I’m someone who does overthink. So having that mental exercise of shutting down, is really valuable for my mental health.
  • Turn your video on! – I know it can feel weird, but being able to see people’s faces in meetings helps you connect with them.
  • Reach out to a buddy or friend – What really helped me was having my grad cohort on hand for support. If you’re feeling a little isolated from the more social aspects of a new job, you’re not alone! Reach out to your cohort and start a regular catch up! Your people partner can put you in touch with others who joined at the same time.

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Maya Bhandari

Business & Technology Delivery Analyst

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