This has been the year of everything virtual — and that includes the workplace. Many companies plan to keep their employees at home for the foreseeable future, so if you’re currently job hunting, you may find yourself not only interviewing virtually but also starting a role remotely.
While it can be daunting to start a new job without ever stepping foot in the office, the key is to take what you’ve learned from past in-person roles and translate that into actions that make sense in a remote work environment, says Marnie Richards, operations manager at EduMe, a mobile-based training platform. To ensure your first few weeks are successful, here are some tips for starting a job remotely.
Getting acclimated without the benefit of being shown the ropes by more seasoned employees can be tricky. But you can overcome this with a bit of preparation, starting with your physical environment.
As anyone who works from home knows, it’s important to separate your workspace from your leisure space. While working remotely means being able to work from anywhere you please, creating a dedicated home office setup will ensure you stay focused and productive — two ideal traits for a new employee.
Once you’ve got your space set up, see if it’s possible to gain access to your computer and accounts before your start date. This will give you time to familiarize yourself with the platforms the company uses and prepare a list of questions for the person who will be training you on your first day. By doing some prep beforehand, you’ll be able to prioritize your work rather than be held up by tech or admin tasks.
“Communication is so important when you’re not around your manager in real life,” Richards says. “The best way to make a good impression is to make sure you’re vocal about what your targets are for your role and what you need to best achieve your goals.”
While video calls can take some getting used to, Richards feels they can help you make stronger connections and clean up communication issues, especially when getting to know and understanding your manager better. “In some ways, video can be a clearer way of communicating than in person, because there are no distractions and it’s only the two of you,” she says. “This is where you can really shine: by being clear, concise and making sure you’re always on the same page.”
If your manager doesn’t set up a one-on-one meeting during your first week (especially if they’re not the person training you), request to schedule some time where you can get to know each other and ask any pertinent questions about your new role. From there, keep a record of what you need to accomplish and any due dates to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. “If you think you will need help with a task, make sure you ask for it, and don’t let things build up or get ignored,” Richards says.
When it comes to fitting in with your colleagues from a distance, Richards believes new employees can take the lead. “Ask about the team culture and really try to understand the company’s values and mission,” she says.
As with any new job, you’ll want to immerse yourself in the company culture as soon as you can. You may not have the luxury of engaging with your colleagues while making a cup of coffee, but you’ll likely have communication tools like direct messaging at your disposal, so use them to drop individual introductions to your team members or to set up quick meet-and-greets. Once the time comes to head into the office, your new co-workers will hardly remember that it’s their first time meeting you in person.
This article originally appeared on northwesternmutual.com. This article is sponsored by the Northwestern Mutual Internship program, which ranks No. 3 in the Best Financial Services Internships for 2021.
Originally from Togo, Africa, Bilal Afolabi came to Connecticut with his family when he was eight. Afolabi credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his father, a small-business owner who started his own trucking company at a young age.
Larry English is the president and cofounder of Centric Consulting, a 1,000-person tech and strategy consulting firm that has operated fully remotely since its founding 20 years ago. In June 2020, English published Office Optional: How to Build a Connected Culture with Virtual Teams, which offers a step-by-step guide to creating strong virtual cultures.
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