Remote Onboarding by Scott Kerr, Allstate NI Data Scientist

Published: March 16, 2021

Joining Allstate Northern Ireland during a global pandemic was an exciting and challenging experience. It's difficult to know how your first day will go when you're alone in your house and there's no one physically around you to give you a helping hand.

Working Remotely at Allstate NI - By Scott Kerr.

I joined Allstate NI remotely back in July 2020 and since then I have continued to work remotely, as all Allstaters are I was fortunate enough to have interned at Allstate NI in the same department during the Summer of 2019, so I had already met and worked with my team in person in the office.

I was curious as to how the onboarding process would work remotely. When I onboarded for my internship, I required some assistance to get logged on for the first time and I was concerned about how this would unfold away from the office. Fortunately, it was a smooth process and I was in contact with my manager the whole time.

Before I started working at Allstate NI, I did have some concerns about how I would fit into this team. One of the qualities Allstate NI has is a strong company culture. My internship exposed me to this, and it was so reassuring to know that if I had any questions or if I needed help, my incredibly helpful team members could just come over and help me out. This isn't possible remotely, so I was a bit apprehensive that I would struggle to integrate into the team. As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about! All I needed to do was just send a message through Teams and help would come my way.

If you're worried about a lack of support while working remotely, don't be! The company culture has adapted to the online world and your team members are always happy to help.

In order to onboard, I needed a few different programs as well as the laptop the company gave me. I simply needed to the follow instructions and ask for help if any issued arose. The process wasn't all that different from when I onboarded as an intern, with parts of it even being refined since. I was introduced to my new team members, and was reacquainted with those I met before, then I was familiarised with the various technical programs I'd be working with. It was an action packed first day!

The team really helped me get settled in at Allstate NI and made me feel part of the team. They were very friendly and supportive from day one and were very attentive to my questions. But it wasn't only my team who gave me a lot of help. The other D3 data science teams were often in contact with me and welcomed me when I re-joined. My team set up 15-minute meetings where we could have a nice friendly chat while we worked which greatly helped me settle into the team dynamic and get to know the people in my team.

When you start your career with Allstate Northern Ireland, remember that communication is key. This can't be understated! Building relationships with your team is important and can help you bring out your best work. Remember, you're in a team! Keeping up a strong level of communication is a requirement of working at Allstate NI so prioritising communication early on will help you prepare for later projects when you need to work closely with your team or even others in other teams. Furthermore, it's the best way to learn in the workplace. Soaking up the knowledge of your colleagues is an invaluable asset and will make your introduction to the company much smoother and easier.

Working remotely can lead to feeling isolated. There's no buzz in the office around you so it's easy to begin to feel alone while working. This is evidence of how important communication is while working at home, it was so much easier to feel involved and part of the team by simply reaching out to my team and asking them about their work. I've found that everyone eager to talk through the projects they're working on. It's a great way to keep informed and to feel like you've integrated well into the team.

It's important to remember that you need to rest. When you're working remotely, you're always just a log-in away from working on a project. Sometimes, you feel like you want to work on something for hours on end, but this can be quite damaging. Burnout is always a possibility and when you work for so long without taking any breaks and you'll suddenly struggle to work at a high level. Being productive is always a great thing, but it's easy to forget that you need rest to fulfil your potential and produce your best work.

Since joining in July, I've had plenty of time to reflect on my experience with remote working. Having worked in the office during my internship, I thought about the difference between the two types of working. Both certainly have their advantages and disadvantages. Maintaining your relationships within the company has become a bit harder. Away from the office you can't just talk to people as you traditionally would have anymore, as all interaction is through instant messages, emails or pre-organised meetings. You need to make an effort to keep yourself in contact with your team and maintain the relationship you built.

A big positive of working from home is the lack of a commute. All you do is open your laptop in the morning, then close it at the end of the day. No travel, no cost! I can enjoy some extra time outside of work because of the lack of time spent on travel. Plus, there's a sense of comfort at home when you're in your own space. I've greatly enjoyed my time working from home overall!

Once we arise from the pandemic, I hope to split my time between working from home and in the office. I've found that a good routine along with separation of work area from home allows me to work efficiently and as well as I would in the office. I miss the ability to have lunch with my colleagues who have become my friends, so being in the office would provide the opportunity to properly exploit the great social side that Allstate NI offers.

Don't worry about joining Allstate NI remotely! Everyone is eager to help you get settled in and share their knowledge with you. You will quickly learn how valuable you are on your first day. Take the opportunity to experience a work culture that is still strong even when all your team members are scattered across the country!