Starting any new job can be stressful enough in person but imagine your first day on the job is taking place in your living room. This isn’t your average onboarding experience: instead of walking into a new office, a mixture of nerves and excitement in your belly, you’ll be perched on your sofa, juggling introductory Zoom calls and emails.
There will be no lunches with your new colleagues or random brainstorming chats in the corridor or kitchen. Instead get ready for virtual coffees, lessons in remote conference-call etiquette and occasional bouts of loneliness.
While this way of starting your first job may be daunting, there are ways you can make the best of it.
- Establish Your WFH Space
Find an area in your home that is inviting for virtual meetings while working from home (WFH) and pay attention to what’s in the background behind you.
You may want to make sure the background to your video calls is clean and tidy, and do not wear pyjamas (unless, of course, your workplace is a super-cool place that does have regular pyjama days…)
Avoid poorly lighted rooms and attempt to find a light source that can reflect on you from behind your computer screen. Position your camera slightly above face level. (It might require putting your laptop on a box or stack of books.)
Ask your company if you can get all the equipment you need to be sent to your doorstep before you start if possible. If you can’t, talk to your employer about how you can set up with whatever technology you have available at home.
- Get to know your colleagues!
It can be strange interacting with people you’ve never met day after day. Start by sending an introductory email to your new colleagues to let them know you’ll be joining their virtual office. Be sure to follow up with those you’ll be working closely with organising formal introductions through video chat, familiarise them with your skills and expertise and get to grips with how the company is adjusting to the Covid-19 lockdown.
- Be patient.
When you start a new job, you’re usually eager to ask questions and get to work. You haven’t yet found your place in the office and you need direction to get into the work pace. Starting a new job in a lockdown can work against that instinct: your new workplace is likely to be struggling to get its ducks in a row and might not have tasks lined up for you immediately.
- Make sure your colleagues know your skillset.
You may have landed the job, but your new colleagues probably don’t know the full scope of your abilities. If you notice co-workers discussing an issue you think you can take on, put yourself out there.
Don’t be afraid of being wrong, you might just have the brilliant solution nobody else has been able to come up with. Even if you don’t, you took the initiative and it will reflect well on you.
You can also continue to develop your skills during the lockdown. Check out Not Going To Uni’s list of distance learning opportunities here
- Get an idea of the office rhythm.
Your new company is likely to have a system for keeping in touch. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the schedule so you know when important meetings are happening.
Make sure that you have access to all the means of communication and project management—Slack, Zoom, Trello, Teams etc.—used at your company. This is important, not only to start your work smoothly but also to establish your presence amongst your colleagues.
- Be sensitive.
In an office environment, it’s easy to pop over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question, but over email and messenger, it isn’t quite as simple. Being a new employee means you will have many questions but try to ask them all in one email instead of five. Also, set up a weekly chat with your manager.
Be patient: everyone is adjusting to working from home, and it might take a little time for colleagues to get back to you. They may have children that they are also trying to home school.
- Be kind to yourself.
Everyone makes mistakes when they start a new job, it’s normal. To add to that rookie pressure, we are dealing with unprecedented changes in our professional and personal lives. You will make mistakes, things might be harder to learn and get accustomed to, but don’t let that get you down. Nobody is expecting you to go in, guns blazing, solving every problem insight. Lewis Scott has also written for Not Going to Uni on how not to put pressure on yourself in a post-Covid workplace.
- Look at the benefits.
Working from home can help your colleagues and managers appear more human. You can get to know their family members and pets and when they get a delivery from ASOS you might identify something in common – assuming you like shopping at ASOS too! So better working relationships and conversations can develop.
You could also be saving time on commuting (more time in bed – yay!) and money that you would otherwise spend on train fares, parking, or café lunches (more money for online shopping – yay!)
- Know when to switch off.
There can be a few traps that can be easier to fall into at home: For example, knowing when to turn off work. Before the pandemic, you'd depart the office, commute home, and leave work behind. Now, our homes are our offices, and the line is blurred when to "leave" work. As a result, burnout can be easier to experience. So, my advice would be to take a break when you need it and try not to work over lunch. You may also want to have Alexa in the background playing your favourite Spotify playlist just to help you relax a bit more.
- Look for alternative social opportunities.
Just because you are working from home does not mean you need to miss out on the social aspect. You could organise a Zoom team quiz every Friday at 4 pm to replace after-work drinks. You could also join online groups on platforms such as Yammer to help you interact with colleagues. Some workplaces offer weekly desk yoga sessions to help colleagues with their mental health. Such groups and activities can be great interactive bonding exercises.
Hopefully, this advice helps you as you navigate the world of remote work. But here's the ultimate advice for your remote job: remember that you aren’t alone. Everyone who works remotely is still learning and evolving in their remote work style. So, come and join us in the journey and good luck with your new job!