starting a new job remotely, remote working, working from homeIn August we were excited to welcome four new Graduate Accountants onto the team. The only hiccup was – we were in lockdown! Here two of the grads, David Reddy and Setefano Talamaivao-Marsters tell their story about starting a new job remotely.

It’s a painful feeling that most of us go through on a regular basis. Its 5:30am, right as the early bird is enjoying its much sought-after worm breakfast. The all-too-familiar sound of an alarm blares, slapping us out of that beautiful dream we wish was real. Whether it was winning Lotto, a gold medal at the Olympics, giving your winning Oscar speech in front of millions of TV viewers…too bad, it’s over. A cascading array of worries streams through our minds. Gotta beat the traffic! Is my shirt ironed? Why’d I stay up late watching that Seinfeld re-run?! Then suddenly the beautiful realisation dawns upon you. ‘Hang on a sec, we’re in lockdown…’ Remote working means we get to savour the next three hours. There’s no gridlock traffic jam to get to your office for that 8:30am meeting. And that is definitely one of the few pros of starting a job during lockdown!

UHY Haines Norton (Auckland) Limited decided to tackle the COVID turmoil head-on. Far from letting the pandemic derail their plans, our firm decided to take on four grads at the same time. Sure, it may seem like quadruple the effort of taking on one grad, but the benefits are also as great.

Although we were far from being qualified Chartered Accountants with years of knowledge and experience under our belt, what we did have going for us was a surplus of enthusiasm. Coming out of university, we were willing to trek through a muddy swamp, or run through a lion enclosure for our chance to get our first accounting role. However, the excitement of anticipating our start date was followed by what can only be described as fate playing a bad practical joke on us. One week before we were set to start our jobs, Auckland went into lockdown. Two thoughts entered my mind: 1) Do I still have a job? And 2) can I still order Uber Eats??

Luckily, UHY was not to be deterred and our start dates went ahead as planned. So instead of heading into the office on day one to settle into our desks and be introduced to lots of team mates only to immediately forget their names, we got to grips with Microsoft Teams. Working from home sounds like a walk in the park. But as most of you readers will know, in reality it soon turns into a game of dodge ball. It is a never-ending game of inconveniences, especially when you are brand new to your job. A tech issue is sure to occur at some point throughout the day. As Murphy’s law says, if it can go wrong it will.

Although I am extremely grateful for the technology that made it possible for me to continue commencement of my new position, it hasn’t come without its trials and tribulations. Just some of the challenges I have had during this unique but exciting time are:

  1. Working from my room off a single laptop screen was not something I had anticipated prior to starting my new job!
  2. Awkwardly meeting all my new colleagues remotely through Zoom and trying to engage on a human level. Also knowing when to let others talk or when to start talking to break the silence.
  3. Facing tech and internet issues and calling our Technical Support team to gain remote access to the UHY network and systems.
  4. Developing a professional set of skills at home and being mentored online by a Senior Accountant.

When all’s said and done there is one thing all four of us grads agree on. Our time spent at this firm over the past couple of months has made the ups and down of learning more than worth it. The level of training already invested in us has surpassed all our expectations. We have met some of the smartest people we have had the pleasure of knowing. We’ve learned what sets our firm apart from others, and that there are no shortcuts taken when it comes to making the right decision. As the saying goes ‘there’s nothing more expensive than a cheap accountant’. This firm, located in the heart of West Auckland, chooses to embody integrity over a quick client invoice. Doing things the right way no matter what is why us grads were kept on even during a crisis situation – because it is good for the future of our firm and the future of our clients. UHY has set an example with us of how a business can still grow and look ahead despite a gloomy and unpredictable economic climate. This is proof as to why it has thrived for so many decades, and it stays loyal to its cause.

David Reddy and Setefano Talamaivao-Marsters are Graduate Accountants at UHY Haines Norton.