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Starting a new job remotely? Here are 10 tips that could help

11 Nov 2020

Anxious about starting a new role remotely? Hays’ Christine Wright shares her tips to ensure that it goes smoothly.

Starting your new job remotely rather than in the office can feel like quite a daunting prospect, as it means not being able to meet your new colleagues and manager in person, at least not straight away. It also means having to adjust to new technology or new ways of working without co-worker help being as immediately or obviously available as it would be in the office.

Starting a new job remotely can also make it more difficult to get a feel for the company’s culture. After all, without the opportunity to physically visit the office or meet your colleagues in person, it’s hard to gauge the team dynamics.

But here are some simple tips that will help you to begin your new role as successfully as possible.

1. Get a buddy

Processes that seem simple when you’ve been in a company for a while may feel completely alien when you’re new, such as booking annual leave or internal project names. To overcome this, managers should set up new employees with a ‘knowledge buddy’ – someone who can help answer any questions they have about the company.

If your new manager hasn’t paired you with a buddy after your first week, then take the initiative and ask them if they’d be open to doing so. Once you have a buddy, it’s worth establishing how best to communicate with them. That will help ensure it works well for both of you.

2. Prepare for introductions

Make sure you apply your usual standard of preparation as if you were meeting someone face-to-face in an office setting.

Prepare by identifying who it is you will be talking to and their role within the organisation, referring to such resources as LinkedIn and the company website. Research how this person’s role will interact with yours. This will provide you with helpful context ahead of your first meeting with them.

Also note down a few relevant questions ahead of your initial meetings so that you come across as engaged and well prepared.

3. Get to grips with the technology

If you are having a new computer delivered, ensure you test out both the hardware and software as well as video and sound settings before your start date. Also familiarise yourself with any new programmes or tools you’ll be expected to use in your new role. Details of these may be in your job description or you could ask your new manager for this information in the lead-up to your first day.

As soon as possible, establish the process for raising tech issues. Having this information straight away will ensure you don’t get stuck without an immediate solution in place.

4. Give yourself some prompts

One advantage of beginning a role remotely is getting to keep notes in front of you. Make lists of co-workers’ and stakeholders’ names, for example, to keep on your desk or saved on your computer, adding details such as their department and responsibilities.

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What about also jotting down any norms or habits you’ve noticed within your team? Do they speak via instant messages? By noting which communication tools your colleagues use for particular tasks, you will be able to get a feel for the culture of the team.

If you’re feeling anxious about introducing yourself to lots of new people, have a prompt in front of you. You can refer to if you suffer a ‘mind blank’ or your nerves get the better of you. This prompt can include a couple of bullet points detailing what you did in your previous role and anything you would like your new colleagues to know about you.

5. Get your goals in order

After your first week or so, you should start to feel comfortable with your key responsibilities. The next thing to do is to work with your manager to set yourself some goals for what you would like to achieve within your first month, six months and year.

Your early goals don’t necessarily have to be large ones. What’s truly important is that they are goals that will help keep you focused in the initial weeks and months. These goals will also give you a stronger sense of direction, make you more organised and help boost your productivity. In turn, they will improve your self-confidence in the job and make a positive impression on your new manager.

Once your goals have been set, ensure you arrange regular and routine catch-ups to update your manager on your progress. This will go a long way to helping you illustrate how motivated and driven you are – something that can be a little more difficult as a remote worker.

6. Be punctual

Working from behind a computer at home or in a remote set-up doesn’t mean you should be any less punctual. This includes starting work on or before your start time and joining meetings on time, if not a minute or so early.

While joining an 11am meeting at 11.01am isn’t disastrous, it can illustrate to your new manager and team that you have poor timekeeping or a lack of respect for their time.

Also, be sure to respond to any questions, requests or messages from your manager, team members, stakeholders or clients promptly, to perpetuate your positivity and willingness to help from the outset.

7. Ask questions

It’s in the interest of your manager that you make a strong start in your new role. So, they will be more than happy for you to ask as many questions as you like. No question is ever a stupid question. It’s more important to ask so that you can be sure you’re on the right track and avoid any misunderstandings.

8. Get to know your new colleagues

If you’re introverted and don’t feel confident to speak up in virtual meetings, then make sure you’re at least engaging with colleagues through instant messaging or one-to-one calls – whatever makes you feel most at ease.

Don’t forget to connect with your new team on LinkedIn. Not only will this help to build a closer relationship, but seeing their posts will help you to get a feel for the company culture and their areas of expertise.

You should also create opportunities for non-work-related conversations and activities, such as attending or organising virtual coffee mornings. This will be key to building strong, longer-term relationships.

9. Be proactive if you feel disconnected

What if, after those initial couple of weeks in your new job, you feel disconnected and demotivated? You might end up wondering whether you made the right choice in taking on this role. These are common and understandable feelings for many new starters.

Be patient and kind to yourself during this time of transition and adjustment and focus on the positives of your new role. You should also speak to your new manager about the fact you’re feeling a little disconnected from the team. Discuss how you may be able to improve processes together to boost your satisfaction in the job in these delicate first weeks and months.

10. Don’t overwork

It can often be difficult for remote workers to draw the line between work and home, which can lead to unhealthy working habits. It’s so crucial from the outset to establish a sustainable routine that enables you to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

One early precedent you should set is ensuring you don’t reply to emails late at night or at the weekend, thereby demonstrating that you won’t be working outside your working hours. If the nature of your role makes this precedent difficult to set, then aim to limit yourself to just checking your emails once in the evening and only when it’s absolutely necessary.

Similarly, it’s worth communicating to your new manager and colleagues when you will usually take your lunch break or specific times during the day that you’ll need to leave, for example to pick children up from school.

Another way to avoid overworking is to try and fit in a daily walk or some other form of exercise. This will be a chance for you to switch off and rest, while also allowing your brain to process all of the new information it has received.

By Christine Wright

Christine Wright is senior vice-president at Hays US. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint Blog.

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