Starting a new job can be challenging at the best of times, however, due to the Corona virus pandemic, many people will be working from home and having no face-to-face contact with new colleagues.
The chances are that your new employer’s onboarding process was not designed with you working remotely from home in mind, therefore you will have to be proactive in getting used to the new culture, way of working and new colleagues. So how do you go about being successful and making a good first impression?
Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:
Schedule a lot of brief check-ins with colleagues
One of the hardest things in a new role is getting used to the company’s unique culture. This is normally made up of unspoken goals and norms which are picked up from everyday interactions with colleagues. Hearing conversations and having discussions about what people are working on will normally allow you to understand what activities are valued and what styles of work are favoured, therefore putting you in a good light with your colleagues and managers.
Under normal circumstances these interactions are a natural part of being in an office. So what to do now that you are starting from scratch at home? The answer is that you will have to be very proactive and manufacture these interactions.
Reach out to new colleagues and set up 10–15-minute one-on-one discussions to introduce yourself, ask questions about what they are working on; so they can describe their work to you and so that you can ask questions about your current projects. These can be by telephone or over Teams or Zoom (or other video conferencing platforms) and can be held regularly. These mimic the short, informal interactions that you’d normally have in person.
Rapidly assemble your mentoring team
You will need people around you who can help and mentor you. Ordinarily these relationships would develop over time. However, when you start working for a company remotely, you will need to identify people to play these roles for you as quickly as possible.
Requests for help are likely to involve emails and asking your new colleagues who they would suggest when you have your frequent interactions (see above). You will need someone who knows how things in the firm are done and can help you navigate the variety of procedures that will make your life simple. Things like how to submit expenses, apply for holiday and accessing equipment.
The second person you will need is a mentor. They will be someone who is well connected throughout the firm and will be happy to introduce you to the people you will need to know. Having these people early on will definitely help you settle in and feel like you belong there as well as making your life simpler. However, you can reach out to other people who may fit the roles better over time as you get to know the firm.
Announce yourself as new
Under normal circumstances you’ll get noticed as a new face in an office and people will introduce themselves When you start a new role remotely, this isn’t going to happen. One would hope that your new manager will introduce you to the team. However, this might happen during a virtual meeting when you are presented amongst a lot of different faces on a screen- not ideal.
This means that again you will need to be proactive in announcing yourself as a new person in the office. Request a moment at the beginning of a team virtual meeting to introduce yourself, then follow it up by sending brief emails to people in the team. The aim here is to let people know that you are new and need help to get started. Everyone will want to welcome you, so give them an excuse by making the first move!
Ask for help
It is difficult for colleagues to pick up on quizzical faces and confused looks when you are having a virtual meeting. They may not know that you are struggling to keep up. These would get picked up in an office when people are in close proximity. So, as a general rule, when there is something you need; say so.
You will be surprised by how willing your colleagues will be to help. After all, they were new to the firm once and remember what it was like. So don’t wait for offers of help; just ask!
Keep a diary
When you’re in an office, it’s easy to take care of problems as they arise. You can often just get up from your desk and find someone to help you solve it. When you’re working at home, if you send a quick email asking for an answer, the request may get lost in the business of the day. And if it’s a small issue, you may even forget to follow up.
So, a really good tip here is to keep a diary. Make notes during and at the end of the day of what you need to know. Write down the tasks you accomplished and also the obstacles you faced. If there are particular issues that are still unresolved, highlight them to discuss with your boss or your friendly mentors in your next meeting with them. Ask them their perspective. In this way you will also get an idea of how the organisation works and thinks. You will fit into the culture more quickly- all making you feel comfortable and settling in.
All these ideas will allow you to be proactive and feel in control of what is never an easy task- starting in a new job in a new firm, made doubly difficult by working remotely.
We wish you the best of luck in your new role! Remember, just ask us if you need a hand.