When I interviewed for my new role with Merkle MENA in early March 2020, I never imagined that I would have to wait a year to join. In April 2020, the world came to a halt because of the global pandemic, and along with that, my offer letter was also put “On Hold” indefinitely. It was disappointing, but I learnt that during times of uncertainty, one must take things one day at a time and remain hopeful.
In April 2021, I received an unexpected email inviting me to attend the final round of interview once again. I was thankful for the second opportunity and happily accepted the invite. The interview went on well, and I was offered the role. Finally, after a long wait, I was all set to join Merkle MENA in their Dubai office.
I was very excited about my new role as a Paid Search Associate and looked forward to meeting my teammates and working with the best marketing minds in the region. However, starting a new role during the pandemic comes with its own set of changes and challenges. Although the lockdown restrictions were eased in Dubai, I was given the option to work from home, as Merkle has changed their policies, with this being offered to all staff due to the success and maintained productivity they saw during the enforced lockdowns. It was a bitter-sweet situation. I was happy to work from the comfort and safety of my home but was also stressed about the training and getting to know my manager and co-workers in a remote work environment.
When my first day at work arrived, I went to the office to collect my laptop and complete the usual formalities. I met the HR team to make sure all the documentation was sorted, and my team lead and buddy were present to help me get started. Along with them, my manager was there to welcome me and go through the onboarding process, and also took me around the office. I received a thorough welcome e-mail along with the New Joiner Handbook explaining the details of all the tasks and training that had to be completed in the first few weeks and some very useful self-learning modules.
During the first two weeks, I spent most of my time self-learning and completing the mandatory training. All the instructor-led online training sessions were scheduled in advance for the new joiners, and the trainers made sure we had the same resources and access to assistance, just as if we were at the office. My first virtual meeting with my manager was great. He set clear expectations for the first few weeks and made sure I was not overwhelmed, as well as making sure I had everything I needed to get started with work. My team lead and co-workers were just a click away to answer any questions or for any assistance.
By week 3, I was fully ready and set up in my new home office. I was inducted into the team and introduced to my first client. All our meetings and meet and greets were virtual through Teams, which turns out, isn’t far from the norm at Merkle. As a global company, the team was well used to meeting people in the UK, the US, and APAC over teams and zoom calls, as well as working on clients all over the world. More so now, with Merkle opening offices in Lebanon and Saudi, it’s likely I would have met a lot of colleagues over video-call anyway!
A few weeks into working from home, I’ve realized that it is a win-win situation for both me and my company. Merkle has provided me the infrastructure and resources that I need to perform my duties and I feel more productive and happier to work from home without any hindrance and hassle of commuting to work in this very hot and humid Dubai summer.
However, on some days, I do miss getting ready and driving to the office. I miss seeing my colleagues and talking face–to–face over a cup of coffee at work. But the team socials more than makeup for it. At socials, we hang out together and learn tidbits about each other and share personal anecdotes over food and drinks. While I had never thought of working from home for a new company, I am happy to report that things are going very well. I am grateful for my health and for Merkle’s continued support.
If you want to learn more about the culture and jobs at Merkle MENA, don’t hesitate to get in touch.