Lesley Dickinson recently joined SR1 Development, after over a decade out of the workplace. Here she gives an interesting insight into what it is like to return to the new modern workplace.
Hi my is Lesley, I’m the Project administrator at SR1 Development Ltd. I started my position here during October 2021. My background is in Project Administration, and I have over 20 years of experience. However, I had career break which ended up lasting over 10 years. Needless to say, technology has changed enormously during this time. The pandemic has significantly changed the way we all work, with thousands of businesses now incorporating remote working. Business operations are vastly different from what they were in 2011. For example, working from home and flextime were something I could of only of dreamed of. I find myself thinking that if my previous companies had been able to offer a flexible approach to sustaining a career, how different mine and my families lives would have been.
My organizational and communication skills have continued to be my strengths not just at work but in my everyday life. I’m an active member of The Women’s institute and have served on many committees. My technical skills however, were very outdated. The first few weeks as a ‘modern’ Project Administrator were incredibly challenging. SharePoint is an excellent communications platform for any business, however getting my head around all of the features took a little while. Initially my challenge was to learn Teams and the 2021 style of working. Being a Project Administrator in my previous roles involved observing, listening and studying business operations and learning as much as I could about everyone’s roles and responsibilities. This process typically took around 6 to 12 weeks. Once I had completed my observation period my main goals were to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
In three of my roles the objectives were to gain ISO accreditation or ascertain funding. As a Project Administrator the job description varies from post to post but always involves either creating or updating company policies and procedures, day to day admin, diary management, information dissemination and event planning. In my current role everyone is primarily working from home, so the process is managed in a completely different way. Instead of observation in the workplace we schedule meetings and share our screens. This initially takes more time and planning and I asked many questions. However, most of the skills required to be a Project Administrator are the same and so are the outcomes.
When I worked for West Lindsey Women’s Aid, the administration and policies were updated weekly. The manager and support workers assessed all new versions of record keeping documents and policies and I updated them according to business requirements. It was widespread practice back then to have numerous versions of the same paper document. We could never be 100% sure that every employee was using the most recent version, which sometimes led to confusion and streamlining problems with client record keeping, therefore leading to difficulties with funding or award applications.
In my previous posts I used Office XP for Word, PowerPoint and Excel etc. I have to say the fundamentals of these programs are still the same, although many new features have been added. But paper diaries are no more and files and files of paperwork around the office is outdated and unnecessary. I am aware that cloud-based systems have been around for a while but with SharePoint everything is integrated. You have the company intranet, built in storage and versions of documents are updated automatically and can be shared with colleagues and clients in real time via teams.
Working at SR1 Development Limited is a wonderful opportunity for me and I really enjoy working here. All staff are encouraged to be autonomous, and we trust and respect one another. Learning new software and organizing a team virtually is a huge learning curve for me and every day brings a new and rewarding challenge. Technology cannot give a person organizational, planning and communication skills, but it does provide us with fantastic tools which are always evolving. There are endless benefits to the systems we have available to us today. SharePoint is a primarily a document management and storage system that integrates with other Microsoft products, SharePoint allows access to staff directories, company information, company forms and many other things. Visit our client testimonials to see our customer feedback. https://www.sr1development.com/case-studies/
Lesley’s Top Tips
Stay Connected – Prior to this post I believed it wasn’t possible to really connect with other people unless you had regular face to face contact, I was wrong. It is possible to build relationships with colleagues virtually. It just takes a little more effort i.e. remembering those colleagues who live in a different country or work from home full-time. A little message or email to say Hi takes a few seconds and can help us all keep up to date and achieve a great team spirit. Now that we are nearing the end of all Covid restrictions it is very important to plan regular team events where we can all meet in person and have a fun time.
Embrace Technology – I’m 58 years old and if I can learn new tech skills then so can anyone. Although it can be overwhelming at first stick with it you will be surprised at your own abilities! There are many helpful free online learning resources. These are the ones I found useful.
I’m currently learning how to edit and add articles our intranet and I’m also doing tutorials on Microsoft Project. I’ll let you know how I get on in my next post.
Thank you for reading my blog, I will keep you posted about my journey!
Take care and remember:
“Patience is a key element of success.” – Bill gates