Joining a Wiltshire accountancy during a pandemic

Joining a Wiltshire accountancy during a pandemic 150 150 Purple Lime

Starting a new job already has challenges: meeting new people, understanding the layout of the office, learning new programmes and company rules, navigating office relationships.  How about adding to that the extra challenge of the country going into lockdown a week after joining the new team.

Our Practice Manager, Julia Halliday joined Purple Lime’s team just before lockdown, so we asked her about the positives and negatives of her experience.


“Starting a new job in lockdown has been challenging to say the least. I was very lucky to move my start date forward by one week, which meant I was able to go into the office and meet most of my team before the country went into lockdown. Purple Lime made the decision for everyone to work from home starting on 18th March, the day after my start date.

“On my first and our last day in the office we had a team meeting where we discussed plans and procedures for working from home. All of Purple Lime’s HR policies and documents are online, making it effortless to familiarise yourself with the regulations from home.

“Before leaving, I was given my laptop and asked to pick up any extra equipment I required, which included a keyboard and mouse, monitors, stands, stationery and even office chairs if I needed.

“Even though it was a strange and eerie day, the teammates I met were funny, friendly and welcoming. I felt good and knew I’d made the right decision.

“Due to COVID-19, my expected first day jitters were wrapped in an extra layer of nerves. I had to remember not to shake anyone’s hand which is completely unnatural to me. I had to keep a courteous distance while being shown around and introduced to the systems. This was before the government guidelines for social distancing came out, so it was all new, and none of us had really come to terms with these inhibiting factors to normal interactions.

“As the team parted ways and we went home to set up our workstations. During lockdown we have communicated via messaging apps and arranged scheduled video calls for the upcoming weeks. Purple Lime’s first step in remote working was to increase our Zoom membership. At our first meeting, everyone showed off their home setup to the group. Everyone made the best of the situation.

“Alongside work, we also had informal team quiz nights, which are great for keeping up morale and ensuring that we met up in a more relaxed manner. I was so nervous I scored terribly on my first one, but with determination and a lot less nerves won the following quiz.

“Then my onboarding began in earnest. I had to set up my user profiles on 11 different programs and apps to begin with. There were several more that my outgoing boss held back initially. Every day Angela, my boss and one of the co-founders of the business, had patiently walked me through the various interfaces over Zoom. I must say the screen sharing was a very useful tool for my training. I could make notes and record the sessions as well as do it myself under Angela’s instruction.

“There were clear downsides but there were many upsides too. Working from home meant that I spent more time with my children. I began to understand how they are taught in primary school, heard them laugh a lot – which is medicinal in itself – and watch in wonder as they listed off fascinating facts they had learnt that day.

“During all of my time in lockdown, I have been given support and empathy from all my colleagues.

It was quite bizarre to see a story about me appear in the local media during this strange time! Several in fact. –


“The downsides were obvious from the beginning. Having to run team calls while not really knowing the team was difficult. Updates and handovers sounded like a foreign language the first few weeks. I couldn’t just turn to someone and ask to be shown, instead I had to research and find my way around to the answer. In that respect, doing research in my own home may have been a benefit.

“Rather than getting to know my brilliant team face-to-face, I’ve mostly met them remotely via video and telephone calls. I also have lots of contractors and third parties to interact with on a daily basis. It’s much harder to break the ice through a screen, although it looks like our world is filled with clear screens now!

Despite these few negatives, mostly, I’m very proud to be part of this team and modern techie company.”