Starting a job in a pandemic – Francesco Ciccarelli

Who would have thought, 12 months ago, that words and phrases like lockdown, social distancing, face coverings, ventilators, vaccines, and track and trace would have become common parlance.

Yet here we are, living in a new Covid-19 world where everything looks different, including of course, the way we work. Working from home has become the order the day for a huge percentage of the workforce, with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other virtual meetings the closest most of us ever get to our colleagues!

We wanted to find out what some of our people really thought about these new working processes and practices – and whether there might be some unexpected benefits.

In the first of our series, we chatted to Francesco Ciccarelli, Senior Quantity Surveyor (Associate Partner) within our Hospitality & Leisure team. Francesco joined John Rowan and Partners just as the impact of the pandemic was being felt.

Q: It must be quite different, joining a company during a pandemic. How did it feel for you?

Francesco: The induction was certainly a bit different. I met a small number of people in the office, but the rest of the induction was conducted on Microsoft Teams.

It was a challenge, as I’ve always liked meeting people face to face – I’m a very sociable sort of person – but you don’t get the same sort of cues on a screen as you do in person, so I’ve had to learn how to get to know people in a different way.

An added challenge is that when people work from home, you focus mostly on your own work. It’s not easy to give people an ad hoc call or contact them via Microsoft Teams. You need to learn when is a good moment. You learn also that it’s better to send a little message – “Is it okay? Can we chat in 10 minutes?” You have to learn a whole new social etiquette!

Luckily, the business is very friendly and has a flat hierarchy, so its easy to build relationships with people at all levels of the business.

Q: Do you miss anything about the office environment?

Francesco: I do miss the opportunity to socialise after work – to go for a beer, have a chat with your colleagues, de-stress from the day and just get to know one another a little better.


Q: How do you feel about working under the lockdown restrictions?

Francesco:  I must be honest – it does feel like being in a kind of limbo right now. And I do look forward to spending time in the office and meeting up with everyone in person.

I’ll be able to see more faces, and meet colleagues who I’ve been sending mail to, because I’ve not necessarily seen everyone on video.

We just have to remember that this current way of working won’t last forever.

We have to just adapt to how it is now and take the opportunity of learning new things and new ways of working. An attitude of ‘this is new and interesting, what can I take from this situation’ is a positive approach, I think.