Starting a new job remotely

When you’re starting a new role, your typical first day might consist of meeting with your new manager, picking up your equipment, trying to learn the names of your co-workers, and working out where the post room, toilets and printers are. But what if your new job is remote? How will you get to know your colleagues, get up to speed on your role, or know who to contact when you have questions?

Here are a few ways to make your first remote day on the job a great success.

Understand the onboarding process

Reach out ahead of time to your line manager or HR contact to find out what onboarding will look like. The organisation might mail a laptop to you, or they may ask you to use your own device. They might take you through an induction on your first day via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams, or perhaps they will email you an employee handbook. The company itself may still be trying to formalise its remote working procedures, so the process may not be as smooth as usual. Make sure you discuss the logistics of the onboarding process beforehand and fully understand what to expect.

Practice the “route”

It’s common to travel to the location of your new job before your first day to make sure you don’t run into any issues or get lost. The same is true of a virtual first day. Start to log on early to allow yourself plenty of time in case of technical difficulties. Make sure all the appropriate software is downloaded ahead of time and you know how to use the technology.

Pay attention to your presence

It’s likely that your first day will consist of at least one virtual meeting with your manager or your team. While you may be used to working from home in casualwear, remember to dress professionally in order to make a good first impression. Pay attention to your virtual environment, including the lighting in your room, items in the background, and try to minimise external noise.

Find out how your team communicates

It’s important to learn how your manager and your wider team prefer to engage with each other. Do they rely heavily on email, or do they tend to utilise video or voice calls? Do they use any internal networks such as Teams, Slack or Yammer to keep in touch? With regards to your manager, do they like to receive queries as they come up via email, or would they rather tackle everything in a weekly one-to-one call? Are there particular times of the day or week that they prefer not to be disturbed? Keep in mind that your colleagues might still be trying to work out their preferences as they adjust to their new routine. But knowing your colleagues’ communication styles will help you integrate with the team more quickly and foster positive interactions.

Make yourself known

Usually when you start a new job, you’d immediately be introduced to lots of people in the office and learn what they do. You’d also find yourself bumping into new people in the elevator or the kitchen and forging new relationships that way. This process is likely going to take a bit longer and require more effort when you’re starting remotely. Let people know you’re the new person in any online networks like Slack or Yammer, or by sending some short emails to other people in your division. If there’s a team meeting, try to find a moment to introduce yourself and your role. You might even need to remind people who you are when contacting them by email or on a conference call, since they won’t be seeing you on a day-to-day basis. Before making a comment on a group call, simply state who you are and mention that you’re new to the company.

Find work buddies

Since you’re not going to be chatting to colleagues in the kitchen over a cup of tea or having a welcome lunch, it’s a good idea to proactively reach out to individuals to get to know them better. Set up a virtual coffee chat to find out about their roles, the projects they’re working on, and anything they think you should know about the organisation. Share any questions you might have and ask for recommendations on other individuals you should get to know within the business. What insights can they share with you about the culture of the organisation?

Seek out opportunities

The pandemic is causing workplace disruption like we’ve never seen and circumstances are evolving rapidly. Due to the fast-changing situation, you might find yourself not as busy as you expected, or even that certain projects you anticipated working on have been shelved and other tasks prioritised. Don’t complain, but rather try to identify opportunities where you can add value. Reach out to others to offer your help, and speak up in meetings to suggest ideas. Think about the additional value you can bring to the business.

There’s no doubt that this is a difficult time to transition into a new role. But by being proactive, patient and flexible, you can smoothly integrate with your new team and prove your worth to the organisation.