Billie and George recently joined us as Analysts. Read about their experiences as they adjust to working during a challenging year.
COVID-19 has been a uniquely challenging year for everyone. Prolonged distance from families and friends, adapting to new ways of working, and dealing with disruption to our daily routines has all been far from easy. For us, as two analysts who joined Accenture recently, our experience has been vastly different to how we would have expected our careers to begin. Yet at the same time, looking back we feel that we’ve learnt a great deal from adjusting to what is the new normal…
We both agree that we would have been a little daunted to join a new company in the circumstances of this year. In reality though, it has been easier to acclimatise than we first thought and everyone at Accenture has gone a long way to smooth the process. We thought we’d share our story and provide a glimpse into how the company has responded from the inside!
Our experience as Analysts so far
I started at Accenture on the 3rd February 2020. My first project was in Swindon, where I stayed in a hotel two nights a week (this luxury made the 5am wakeup call bearable). One month into my first role, COVID-19 hit and the world as we knew it changed. I was asked to work from home which was concerning as I was so new. Would I get the support I needed, meet new people and build my network? All these thoughts ran through my head. Although, I was excited for the extra couple of hours in bed (who wouldn’t be!).
Work from home setting with some furry friends
And I started at Accenture on the 21st October 2019, so I had a few more months to adjust to the office culture and even attended the Christmas party. For much of my time pre-COVID-19, my team and I spent four to five days in the office. The pandemic of course changed that, and I, like Billie, had similar reservations. Would I receive adequate training? Would I have the right level of mentorship? Would I be able to grow into the person I aspire to be?
We were both lucky enough to complete our Orientation and Induction in person. But even for those who joined virtually, like our friend Charis who joined in June, every effort has been made. She shared with us that “Everyone in Accenture was helpful and supportive during the virtual induction. Initially I found it strange meeting new people virtually, but this is something I have got used to”.
Accenture’s Truly Human Principles
Accenture has provided a support system to help our people manage through this difficult time. These initiatives have been driven by our Truly Human principles, but what does it mean to be “Truly Human”?
To be Truly Human is to be your best self, by balancing professional goals with wellbeing.
MIND BODY HEART SOUL
Mind revolves around being mentally focused. This could mean establishing clear attainable goals whilst also leveraging ways of working that help us thrive. Part of the challenge of working from home is that your diary might be filled with phone calls, so you don’t have time for those coffee breaks or that lunchtime stroll to a café.
If you’re working with clients and colleagues internationally, it could mean your home becomes an office spanning multiple time zones. To tackle this problem, Accenture have advised us to set boundaries, separating time spent at ‘work’ from time with family and friends in order to maintain a good balance. They have also encouraged shortening meetings from an hour to 50 minutes or from 30 to 25 minutes to ensure breaks are built into our days.
Body encapsulates anything to do with your physical health, for example having a balanced diet, making time for exercise and getting enough sleep. At the start of lockdown, it became apparent that we had extra hours to focus on ourselves due to no longer having to commute. This was the perfect time to get into an exercise routine; we had no excuse now! Although difficult at the start, a 30-minute endorphin-filled HIIT class became enjoyable. It was also a great way to nurture our mental health with so much time spent indoors. Accenture also offers free yoga classes and discounted online class memberships, so there was always something for everybody. A personal favourite for maximum burn: the “Ultimate Shred” on Instructor Live, a free platform provided by Accenture. As working from home has continued, it can be difficult to separate your work life from home life, and the time you gain from not commuting can often end up being spent working overtime. We found packing up your workspace, working in a different room and breaking up the day with exercise helped keep this separation.
Heart centres around a sense of belonging, feeling valued and cherishing connections with your colleagues, clients, family and friends. Accenture prides itself on being one of the most inclusive and diverse companies in the world, leading the way in creating a culture where everyone can be their most authentic self. Following the tragic death of George Floyd in May and the events that followed, huge efforts have been made internally to educate our people and advocate for our Black colleagues and friends. For Accenture, this means a great deal and the direction has come from the top; our CEO Julie Sweet has vocalised our unwavering commitment to stand alongside the Black community and our refusal to accept racism, intolerance and inequality. That has filtered down through many community sessions where we’ve talked about this topic and we believe that this has had a great impact on inclusivity in our communities.
Soul is all about having a sense of purpose, meaning and pursing your passion. How do we find our purpose? Think about what motivates you and what your unique selling point is but it’s ok if you haven’t yet found your purpose, many of us have not. Having a sense of purpose and meaning was difficult during lockdown, and many of us may have had feelings of hopelessness or not knowing how we could help. One way we’ve found purpose is volunteering. Accenture encourages us to take three days off work each year to complete charity work. During the crisis there were multiple virtual volunteering opportunities, such as working with Age UK to become a buddy with an elderly person or assisting the COVID-19 relief effort by helping map remote locations. These initiatives made us feel as though we were part of a company that was adding value by supporting communities through this difficult time.
Looking back now, it's clear that this year has unsettled our daily lives in many ways, but we think we've been able to overcome many of the obstacles that have been thrown our way. While further hurdles lie down the road, because of the experiences we’ve shared here, we now feel far more confident in taking on future challenges. We hope that by sharing this story it might also provide assurance to potential new joiners and offer a glimpse into what the ‘new normal’ looks like at Accenture.