One year since the first lockdown: How are the Grippers coping?

One year since the first lockdown: How are the Grippers coping?
Clara-Marie Eloy

Clara-Marie Eloy

Digital Marketing Executive

We are reaching an anniversary that not many of us had foreseen a year ago. When the “stay at home” message became a reality, but the idea of the entire world being in lockdown still sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie. As we all entered our first Covid-19 lockdown across the globe, millions of people left their office not knowing when they might return to their desks.

After twelve months and three lockdowns in the UK, the uniqueness of working from home and new routines may have worn off, but for Grip, we welcomed more than 50 new colleagues!

While there were no more daily commutes, morning coffee chats and lunches with colleagues, in-person collaboration, and everything that is part of the daily office life, the Grippers were onboarded remotely and virtually. They had to be welcomed via video calls and chats, trying to get to know each other during and between online meetings.

Amongst these newcomers, Grip has also recently appointed a new Head of People, Abby Matthews, who brings with her many years of HR experience and another who onboarded virtually.

From starting new routines, using a run tracking app together, and communicating as much as possible on apps like Slack, we have asked Abby and other Grippers to share how they felt and how they have been coping.

Abby Matthews, Head of People, Grip.

“I remember the last day in the office vividly. I don’t think anyone could have imagined what was coming. I still recall people sharing pictures of Corona Extra with a big red cross over it! Sadly, we had no idea, did we?

I think I can safely say that, in general, making the switch overnight to remote working was not hard. We have so much technology and tools at our fingertips. As long as you have a laptop and an internet connection– you’re golden!

Previously, I had worked remotely for several years and back then, people were very sceptical about working in this way. As we have all seen, working remotely increases productivity. Yay! Big win.

The challenge soon became keeping the connections with each other. What makes “the office” work is that you are with other people. You don’t necessarily need to plan to have a conversation, ask a question, go out for lunch etc. We do that now by looking at calendars and sending a meeting invite or writing a Slack message. This was part of why I wanted to get back to the office from my previous remote life. It is hard to re-create those interactions that happen when you are all in the same physical space. You need to consciously plan these “just happen” interactions and follow more steps that involve typing vs speaking!

During this time, I believe we have all learnt how different environments are suitable for different types of tasks. I like to do deep work from home (or somewhere with no distractions). I like to do ideation, discussion, and culture building in a coffee shop (maybe a restaurant, trendy bar or beach resort!) Ok, you get the idea! The point is that the office environment doesn’t always lend itself to creativity and innovation. Working remotely and truly embracing digital engagement means you can have the flexibility to adapt and change your workplace.

I joined Grip in early March, and I am so thrilled to see so many happy and friendly faces on my screen! Grip is all about networking, connections, matchmaking, and delivering memorable experiences, so it would seem only right that those who make it all happen care so much about ensuring everyone feels welcome. In my short time so far, I can see how everyone has adapted to this new way of working. They have the tools they need. That is awesome, and to be honest, not a surprise. I am super excited to help build relationships with Grippers and make those valuable and important connections.”

How have other Grippers managed in their new working environments?

I ended up investing in a standing desk which is a game-changer and hopefully the start of a life with improved posture!

During the lockdown, I did relocate, I moved countries, and I ended up in Stockholm! Since we are all working from home for the foreseeable future, my partner jumped on it when the opportunity arose. After 7 years in London and spending the lockdown there, this was an obvious choice for us. Now we live close to the water, surrounded by nature and a stepping stone to the city centre.

I joined the company during the midst of lockdown – previously working within a small and tight-knit team. I was quite nervous about onboarding digitally and meeting so many new colleagues, and getting a ‘grip’ on all things Grip! To my delight, this was not as challenging as I expected – in fact, it was a smooth process. I felt welcomed and was given the guidelines and support to dive into the work. Working from home has been challenging at times, as most of us can relate to it! What has helped me is to spend some ‘me’ time in the mornings. I try to exercise and have a nice coffee and breakfast and relax. It sounds cliché. However, it helps to start the day off more motivated and with an improved mood and mindset. What also helps me stay focused is to move around during the day – even though my new standing desk is great, I tend to switch work areas during the day to experience some new scenery.

Aleksandra Hansen, Junior Customer Success Executive, joined Grip in September 2020

“Despite all that we’ve achieved virtually over the past year, WFH has come with real challenges!

As someone who is extroverted and naturally likes to socialise, working from my room hasn’t been easy, so connecting for “virtual coffee breaks” with colleagues has been a must. I have also found it really easy to let work get away with me, so sticking to a schedule that includes morning walks, workouts and running definitely helps me to mix it up a bit!”

Jake Rigby, Account Executive, Joined Grip in June 2019

“I did invest in a new chair, desk, screen, everything! Seeing as I’d be spending so much time working from home, I wanted to feel comfortable—furniture from IKEA, of course. I relocated during the lockdown in mid-September to a really great flat in North West London, not too far from where I was living before. I started at Grip in June 2020, so I’ve never worked in the office.

I’ve got so used to working alone; I can’t imagine what an office environment would feel like! It’s weird to think when I joined, there were only about 20 people in the company, and we would have a company-wide stand-up every Monday. A lot has changed since then, and we have grown in size significantly. It’s been strange onboarding and working remotely, but the regular meetings have kept us all connected and meant I’ve got to know quite a few people.

There is a real sense of working together in a team for a common goal and helping each other out when needed, which is impressive seeing as most of us have never met each other!”

Guy Owen, Junior Web Developer, Joined Grip in June 2020

From all of us at Grip, please continue to stay safe!