Welcome to 2020: the year that nobody could have predicted and everybody wishes would just be over already. Things have changed drastically in such a short period of time, and many norms of home and office life have flown out the window. For those lucky enough to be starting a new job during these times, chances are you’ll be doing it remotely. Whether you’re someone who prefers to work from home or you just can’t wait to get back to the office, starting a new job remotely is challenging no matter what. So, here are my tips to help make it easier and get you acclimated to your company and co-workers just a bit faster.
1) Connect With Your Team Early and Often
Co-worker relationships are unique. They can even be awkward and challenging at times, but are really crucial for finding both success and happiness in your new position. Just because you won’t be running into co-workers at the coffee machine for the foreseeable future, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be connecting with them. When you’re new, it’s important to make yourself known as an engaged team member. You may have been introduced on a team-wide call on your first day, but unless you’re actively communicating with your team, you can easily become unintentionally forgotten in a remote setting.
But even more than that, it’s important to remember that we’re all humans and have lives outside of work. During any casual check-ins or one-on-one introduction sessions (yes, even the painful icebreakers), don’t be afraid to take the first five minutes to talk about what your interests are outside of work. The work from home environment can easily be isolating, and this may be just the type of human connection you need to turn that around. Additionally, when you do finally return to the office and meet your coworkers in person for the first time, it will make the experience far less awkward.
2) Make Your Needs Known
Advocating for yourself is more important than ever. Working remotely means no one will notice a slightly confused look on your face during a meeting (unless you accidentally left your Zoom camera on) or stop by your desk quickly to make sure everything’s going okay. You also may no longer be able to ask your co-worker a follow-up question post-meeting as you walk back to your desks, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask the question at all. Keep a running list of comments or questions you have and schedule a quick fifteen minute check-in as often as needed with your manager or a co-worker to discuss them. Remember, asking questions is a good thing. It shows that you have interest and genuinely want to succeed.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for access to more training resources. Most employers have had to drastically change their onboarding process over the last few months. While they are doing their best to get you up to speed as best they can, maybe the new remote onboarding process isn’t all smooth sailing for you. It’s okay to make that known, but when you do, make sure you approach your manager with specific needs so they can help you better. Perhaps suggest an additional one-on-one training session or ask for permission to go through old documents or projects to help you to better understand certain aspects of your role. Everyone is navigating this new remote environment together, and chances are remote work is here to stay, so your boss will likely appreciate feedback and suggestions on how to continually improve the remote onboarding process.
3) Explicitly Ask for Feedback
While this also applies when starting a new job in an office, it’s even more important when starting a new job remotely. After a meeting in the office, your manager may typically be quick to say “great job” or “hey, can you looking into the question that came up and circle back with me this afternoon?” While they may now do this via a messaging channel, it can also slip their mind as they jump from one Zoom meeting to the next. This doesn’t mean that feedback isn’t important anymore; in fact, it’s likely more important than ever, so make sure to ask for it as often as you feel necessary.
During the shift to remote work, your manager likely set up check-ins with you to make sure everything is going well. Use this time to ask questions such as:
“I understand my responsibilities include … is there anything I’m missing?”
“What’s the best way for me to better understand this process?”
“How would you like me to do this task better or differently next time?”
Even though your manager may not offer a ton of feedback, simply knowing that you’re on the right path is often a huge help in navigating a new role.
4) See What You Can Do For Others
As I mentioned earlier, the onboarding process has changed drastically over the last couple months, and chances are that most managers and co-workers are putting in a bit of extra effort to make sure that you feel comfortable and have what you need to succeed. Maybe it’s a daily fifteen minute check-in or a handful of extra onboarding sessions in your first few weeks that didn’t exist on their calendar before. Either way, don’t be afraid to take up their time, because they are likely more than happy to help… but, do offer to return the favor and help them out with something, no matter how small. This is not only a great way to show that you are a team player, but also will get you more quickly acclimated with the work at hand. Whether it’s offering to be a second set of eyes and help proofread, assisting with research or documentation, or offering a fresh perspective to a problem at hand — it will not go unnoticed and you will likely benefit from these small gestures more than you could have imagined.
Yes, starting a new job remotely in a work from home world can be an uncertain and daunting process, but there’s no better time to navigate this unknown territory than right now, as we all work towards figuring it out together. Remember to be flexible and don’t go too hard on yourself in the beginning. Adjusting to any new job takes time. So, especially under these circumstances, it’s okay to not have everything figured out immediately. You’ll get there eventually and your manager and co-workers will be rooting for you along the way. Best of luck on your journey!