I’m Nathan, and I’ve been working as a Sales Executive with AO for three years now, but prior to that, I graduated with a first-class degree in Law.
Like many other graduates, I was never too certain on where I saw my career going and after taking my first tentative steps into the working world at a Law firm, I realised it wasn’t for me. I settled in Manchester after moving from the neighbouring Liverpool, and found my feet at the doors of AO after being recommended by a friend who worked here.
An unrivalled office atmosphere
In 2019, before the pandemic, working here was a rush. With a great team atmosphere, places to relax during downtime, refreshments available to us when we needed them – it never felt like a chore to come to work.
As a Sales Executive, my role is always target focused and I had to get up to speed fast – but there was always a helping hand on offer, a friendly face ready to give advice, or someone to help focus us only a short walk away.
Even during the busiest sales times, AO’s friendly ‘work hard and be rewarded’ ethos meant that we all went home feeling fulfilled and excited for the next day. Whether it was a night out, a teambuilding exercise or a birthday celebration – there was always something to get involved in. After moving away from a lot of friends and family, this was a big deal for me.
The smooth transition into remote working
“From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home.” Hearing the Prime Minister’s words amidst the uncertainty at the start of the Covid pandemic was pretty scary! Especially for a 20-something young adult like myself, trying to navigate life in a big city for the first time.
Like many others, I assumed I’d suddenly be earning less, suffering socially and simply ‘trying to get through it’. But everyone at AO was blessed with a smooth transition into remote working. AO developed new ways to keep us all upbeat as we began to work from home and maintain that fun, friendly and motivating environment I had grown accustomed to working together in the office.
The once-busy city centre team had become equally as busy through twice-daily Zoom calls and team meetings online – seeing friendly faces that I had already garnered such good rapport within the office throughout the day really did help.
Whilst we didn’t have someone at the end of the desk to ask for support, we had such a great system in place and it really felt like a friend was never that far away. It felt strange at first but we adapted quickly. In fact we did it so well, that now we are work from home permanently, and as a team we’re converting better than ever before and seeing more benefits monetarily too!
Maintaining culture virtually
Now that we work remotely, we place a big importance on organising time away from work to bond as friends, as well as colleagues. We’ve got monthly nights out and team building days, and we regularly come together to celebrate success too. Our Quarterly Awards are one of the most eagerly anticipated nights on the social calendar. There’s free drinks, free food, some mild misbehaving, but most of all, it’s a chance to reunite with colleagues – something I learned to appreciate so much more since the pandemic.
Even when we’re not out together socialising, we still use Teams to encourage (healthy) competition over targets and general work-related humour. Being apart really hasn’t dampened our ability to stick together as a team. If anything, our bonds have grown stronger through it all.
Looking to the future
Despite all the challenges over the last few years, both personally and economically, I am still just as happy to work for AO as I was on my first day. I’m full of positivity, still feel rewarded and remain as much a part of this big family as I ever was. I’m looking forward to progressing my career now within AO, and I don’t doubt for a second that I will be given the tools and support to do so when that time comes.
I am sure that here at AO, with the help of my team, immediate supervisors and so on, I’ll achieve my ambitions. Anyone considering working here should know that the only way is up. I would completely recommend it to my even my closest friends as the place to be – not just for now – but going into the future. Just like a few years ago, my school friend did for me!