zoiefengFrom office to home, to embracing change in the new normal

As a co-op student at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), “the new normal” was a phrase that I and many others were not expecting to experience during our work terms. This phrase was quick to test our ability to adapt and to persevere in times of uncertainty as the majority of us transitioned from working in the office to working from home.

Although working from home was nothing new to me, it was different this time around. Returning to the office was, in the short term, physically unattainable. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I found that the most challenging part to the transition was keeping my day more entertaining and less routine-like. A less routine-like day had a positive impact on my mental health. To simulate my office work life, I would set some time out of my day to get in a snack and a quick workout, which would imitate coffee breaks and walks at lunch.

As for communication, I really valued the importance of having check-ins with my colleagues and managers. While I was at RBC, I worked on two different teams, one was the finance change management team and the second was the financial controls team. Daily check-ins, weekly team status calls and bi-weekly one-on-one meetings were all forms of check-ins that both teams ensured to lead and attend. I enjoyed being a part of these check-ins because they provided me with better insight into my managers’ expectations and feedback on projects that I was working on. It also created a space for me to continue asking any career and work related questions to further drive my motivations and fuel my curiosity.

The last day of my work term was – well – let’s just say it was a new normal. I got the chance, over WebEx, to prepare transition notes and train the incoming co-op student that was taking over my role. It was great to see that RBC was able to adapt to the new normal and continue providing summer internship opportunities to fuel the growth and curiosity of myself and other co-op students. My last hour was spent virtually with my team. We exchanged our virtual good byes and had some good laughs.

No matter where the new normal takes you, the important lesson is to be open to change and to stay connected with your network. Good luck to those entering their new work terms. Only bright days are ahead of us!

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