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Starting a new job

Starting a new job with The Data Lab during a pandemic: 1 year later

A year today, our newly-launched TORCH Business Advisory Service welcomed two new employees to the team – Lauren Spark and Sarah Mackenzie. The ladies joined The Data Lab on the very first day of the official Government lockdown and, as a result, became accidental guinea pigs for our new virtual on boarding process. As they settled in they wrote about their experiences in a blog: Tips for starting a new job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

12 months down the line, our TORCH team are successfully working with businesses across Scotland, helping people make sense of their data goals and how to build a successful strategy and roadmap towards them. We asked Lauren and Sarah to reflect on their induction blog post and talk to us about how TORCH navigated the changes brought on by a global pandemic.

Can you tell us what the TORCH team have been working on over the last year?

It’s been a really exciting time for us all. We launched the full service during lockdown and really had to adapt and evolve our business model to the changes that were happening across the industry.

On top of this, we on-boarded an entire team online (most of us have still not met one another in person!). And, although this came with challenges, working on-line has inadvertently allowed us to deliver far more work across a wider geography with fewer resources.

TORCH In Numbers March 2021

Some of TORCH’s key highlights in its first year:

  • We signed up 45+ Suppliers into our Supplier Network
  • We engaged with over 60 companies, 58% of which were new to The Data Lab
  • Engagements lead to 16 projects across 11 industries (including High Value Spirits, Built Environment, Communications & PR, Pet Food, Travel & Hospitality, Retail, Technology, Health & Wellbeing, Sport & Leisure, Housing, HR Technology), with 4 of the companies having female founders
  • Projects led to 33 introductions into our Supplier Network
  • 10+ organisations TORCH has worked with are taking on students from The Data Lab’s MSc programme

“Take a lead from the office culture”, was one of your tips for starting a new job last year. Was this difficult to do online?

At The Data Lab? Absolutely not. It was pretty clear from day one that the culture & values highlighted on our website weren’t just a tick box exercise. We were inundated with private welcome messages and video chats from our new colleagues, so it was relatively easy to get a feel for how the team worked and who everyone was.

Coincidentally, since starting, we’ve both joined the organisation’s Culture Group: a cross-team collection of volunteers from across TDL who meet monthly to contribute ideas around the business’s values.

You also mentioned having a daily planned routine?

As the ‘normality’ of lockdown has set in, our perspective on this has possibly changed somewhat. When we started at The Data Lab, we were still applying an office work approach to a work-from-home set-up. Nobody really knew what they were doing yet, and the entire world was trying to figure out how their normal work day translated to a solitary home environment.

We’re still planning our days/weeks, but we’d be lying if we didn’t say that pandemic fatigue plays a real part in how well we run through a general tick list. Instead, we’ve both been creating daily priority lists and managing our workload that way.

What is TORCH going to be working on in 2021?

A key objective is the expansion of our customer portfolio into new sectors. We’re looking to deliver a number of webinars focused around tackling common data issues and this will run in conjunction with publishing our play books. In 2021 we’ll continue to grow our Supplier Network whilst ensuring  that we maintain our truly neutral stance as we take on more projects.

You can learn more about how the TORCH team are helping organisations across Scotland turn their data ideas into actionable roadmaps in our TORCH Case Studies.

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