How has the pandemic and lockdown changed the role of an EA?
PA Life spoke to Orlaith O’Brien, EA at Endava…
How did you get your current position?
I was contacted by a lady in the recruitment department via LinkedIn. (In fact my previous position was via LinkedIn also!) I wasn’t actively looking at the time as I was involved in an office move project and my plan was to complete that first. However, it was such a good opportunity, I could not turn it down.
Do you usually work from home or in the office?
Well, pre-pandemic I worked in the office but had the facilities to work from home. I preferred to work in the office as being an EA, I find face-to-face interaction much easier. Working from home is okay but not always practical!
How has your job changed since the beginning of the pandemic?
Sadly our Office Manager was made redundant so her responsibilities have been passed to me. Thankfully, I have an Office Assistant to help with day to day requests such as organizing couriers, assisting people with their WFH needs. In the summer I had to ensure the office was COVID safe for those who wished to go back in on a regular basis. This included creating a risk assessment for the return to work which had to be extremely detailed.
My role as an EA has changed a little. Probably the main example being that I book a lot less travel these days. Also, as everyone is working remotely, my position of ‘Gate Keeper’ to my execs has become much busier. Diary co-ordination is much trickier these days.
What has been the biggest challenge?
I would have to say, keeping a positive mind about everything can be tough at times. Also, making sure your team is okay and keeping in good health mentally and physically. Luckily, my business has invested a lot into wellbeing, holding regular seminars, staff can download the Calm app for free and remote yoga classes to name a few.
From a personal perspective, definitely juggling home schooling with work! Thankfully, most people I work with are in similar situations so we are all very mindful of how tricky it can be.
What new skills have you learnt?
I’ve learned the importance of quiet/focus time. Setting time aside in my diary for myself, whether that’s just having a 10 minute break away from my screen or going for a run. I’ve discovered the importance of getting up and away from my screen on a regular basis. This was something that happened organically in the office environment for example, meeting a colleague in the kitchen and end up having a 10 minute catch up!
What is currently your top priority at work?
Mostly just making sure all streams of communication are kept open. I have scheduled check-ins with my team but we also have unscheduled calls regularly to ensure nothing gets missed.
The future. Keeping positive that this will end eventually. It is unlikely I’ll ever go back to working from the office five days a week – it will more likely be two or three. I’ve always seen that as the ideal working week. I have really missed the office buzz and the camaraderie you just can’t get via Teams or Zoom.
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