Thanks to a resurgence of Covid-19 outbreaks due to the delta variant, millions of employees across the world will not be returning to in-office work as soon as predicted—and some are just fine with that. After working remotely during the pandemic, many workers now prefer remote work to in-office work. Some companies have come to see the benefit of remote work, as well—both financially and practically. Even if it never becomes the predominant way of working, it’s likely that if you start a new office job this year, you'll be starting it remotely. Here are four tips to help you make strong first impressions from afar.
1. Make sure you have everything you need to get started
With no office to commute to or work in, it’s imperative to have your working setup ready to go. What you need will, of course, partially depend on your new employer. But the onus is also on you to ensure that everything is ready in time. In other words, if you haven’t received something you need well in advance of your first day (like a laptop or monitor), let someone know instead of passively waiting for the issue to be addressed.
And once you’ve received all the required equipment, get everything arranged and configured well ahead of time so you don’t need to mess around with it on your first day. Needing to delay your first onboarding meeting because your microphone isn’t set up, for example, will establish you as unreliable and inconvenient. You need to hit the ground running.
2. Be personable but not overbearing
After starting your new job, it probably won’t be long before you’re called into various video chats as part of the process for welcoming new hires and getting them up to speed. These chats can include one-on-one meetings with colleagues, department overviews covering everything you need to know, and company introductions with everyone in attendance. In other words, you’re likely to have a busy week.
Your goal during this time should be to achieve a good balance between being proactive and receptive. You want to be noticed, but you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself. And what you can do and how you can interact with your new colleagues will partially depend on the chat options available to you. Increasingly, companies are trying things like spatial video chats with the goal of creating space for networking by allowing dynamic conversations to form. If this is the case, you’ll need to draw upon your internal networking abilities. However, if you don’t have that option, and you might simply get a few brief generic chats and nothing more, then you should pointedly ask for some additional introductions so you can meet more people and make more connections.
3. Ask plenty of sensible questions
Again, it’s necessary to walk the line. You don’t want to be completely silent because that might make it seem like you don’t care or aren’t interested. You also don’t want to obsessively ask questions just to seem engaged, as you could end up asking about things you should already know. So, what questions should you be asking?
The most vital queries pertain to organizational structure. Collaboration is tough when people are working remotely, and relies heavily on strong communication and awareness of core processes. So, asking about who you should report to if there’s a problem, for instance, will show that you understand this. Your goal with your questions should be to save the company time and money. If you get that across, you’ll be seen as a valuable addition before you’ve even completed any real work.
4. Let people know what you’re doing
Often, communication issues with remote work concern workloads. When you’re in a regular office, it’s fairly clear what you’re doing and how much you’re working. In your home office, though, you don’t have that visibility. Managers and colleagues might not know if you’re diligently attacking your assigned tasks or being idle. While remote, you’ll likely be given a way in which you can track your time. But that information won’t always get checked swiftly (or at all). This means it’s important to keep others aware of what you’re doing, especially at the beginning of your new job.
For example, you definitely don’t want to get through your first week, have a catch-up meeting with your manager, and discover to your horror that you misinterpreted your first batch of work- and were doing it all wrong and/or working on the wrong project. So, before you start a piece of work, message your manager to tell what you’re planning to do, then send them a recap message at the end of the day. This will give them ample opportunity to correct your course if you’re going in the wrong direction—mark you down as a team player.
Daniel Liebeskind is the co-founder and CEO of spatial video platform Topia. Created by a remote team in 2020 amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, Topia was launched to help bring more human interaction into an increasingly virtual world.
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