Starting a job in the middle of a global pandemic – Tyrone Rhoomes

Continuing our series of articles looking at the challenges – and blessings! – of starting a new job during a pandemic, this week we spoke to Tyrone Rhoomes, who joined John Rowan and Partners in August 2020 in the role of Clerk of Works…

Q1. You’ve worked in the construction industry for the best part of 20 years – so is working from home a new concept for you?

You might think so, but for the last eight years or so I’ve worked from home much of the time – that is, when I’m not out on site. But then, there was always the expectation that you’d go into the office every so often, at least once a week. However, since joining John Rowan and Partners in the middle, of last year, I’ve been into the office just three times in all – and one of those was for an induction!

Q2. How do you make sure you’re not working overlong hours, and giving yourself the right breaks?

I don’t think I’ve been working too long hours.  I’ve never really been a 9 to 5 person and while I’m occasionally working later than I might be in the office before, I had a long commute before and so I was checking email at 7am in the morning on the train and then all the way back in the evening – so I don’t actually feel like I’m doing too much.

I also use my son’s bedtime, bath and read a story time etc as a cut off / time breaker.

Q3. We’ve all seen the amusing videos of cats, dogs, husbands in underpants interrupting on-line meetings. How do you cope with these sorts of ‘interesting’ interruptions?

I don’t see it as an issue. My children aged 1 and 4 are, of course, my world. I think to a certain extent the new working from home environment has helped to create a new sense of ‘acceptable formality’. This means that no one really minds if children interrupt, or a cat wanders across the camera.

I had a meeting the other day where my youngest child climbed up and sat on my lap. He put his head on my shoulder in the middle of the meeting and no one minded. I think people have got more used to this as part and parcel of life in a pandemic. It has allowed us to ‘reset’ and to cleanse some of our more archaic business practices.

Q4. Now we have a roadmap of sorts for easing of lockdown, what are you most looking forward to from a business perspective?

I’m still really excited about getting into the office, learning what it’s like and meeting people ‘in the flesh’. I’ve got to know most people in my team, but there are just so many people to meet yet, so I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone across the business.

There are some great things I’ve yet to experience like ‘round the table’ ping pong at lunchtime, curry catch ups on a Friday and loads of social events –  which coming out of lockdown, are so appealing! I can’t wait!

Q5. What advice would you give to any John Rowan and Partners new starters?

My advice is to just be yourself, don’t worry about how you come across, what your background looks like or even state of your house when you are taking part in Teams meetings.

Just be honest and true to who you are; the company really allows your personality to come through and that will be a massive part of getting to know people when you do get to meet them for real.