If you're starting a new job remotely, you’ll want to think thoughtfully about your first few weeks. Unlike in an office setup, you won't have regular casual interactions with your managers and other colleagues that help you glean information in small moments. Beginning work remotely makes it harder to experience and appreciate the company culture. Although you'll have information and guidelines about your new team, organization, and important technology, you might still find yourself stuck once in a while. We’re sharing the following tips in the hopes that we can help you make this important stage of work as seamless as possible.
Outside of the usual company orientation, there’s a lot you can learn from your onboarding process. You may find there are specific processes that you are introduced to – what parts of your role utilize them? Particular colleagues may be asked to meet with you – how do your roles intersect, or, what projects do you share? It’s a good idea to identify someone you can contact for assistance whenever you get confused. Tasks that were simple for you at an old job might appear intimidating the first time you attempt them in a new program, tool, or flow. Some organizations even appoint a colleague as a “buddy” to work closely with you throughout your first few weeks as you integrate into the company and/or your team. This person will help you get up to speed and develop your own “short hand” for your new role.
You'll most likely attend a few one-on-one meetings with team members as part of your induction. Try to prepare well in order to make a solid first impression with your team members – these are the people you will spend the most time with! In advance of your meetings, you can learn more about your colleagues’ expertise and experience through their LinkedIn profiles, or perhaps your company website. During the meetings, ask questions about how your roles work together, and what things they think would be helpful for you to know immediately. And as you are settling in, try to get a sense for your teammates’ communication preferences, even if you have to ask them outright. You’ll work best with people when they’re most comfortable and open. Are they more of an email or phone person? Lastly, don't hesitate to ask thoughtful questions, or ask them for help – it’s in their best interest for you to be successful!
You will want to set goals once you understand your responsibilities. You can work closely with your immediate manager to come up with a list of targets. They don’t have to be overly ambitious. Try to structure them into a timeline that will help you focus on your overall long-term objectives.
Different than a daily to-do list, outline everything you want to achieve in the coming months and over the next year. As you become more settled in your role, your thoughtful approach will make you stand out among your colleagues and management.
You shouldn't behave too casually at first just because you work remotely. First impressions only happen once, and you’ll be making a lot of them for a while. Until you have a good understanding of your new company’s unique, corporate culture, and have met all the key colleagues you need to, it’s best to err on the side of a little more formal. Dress professionally; maintain a clean, presentable virtual environment; be punctual for all engagements, and give prompt responses to emails and other requests from your team members. Lastly, ensure you understand the employee handbook and implement it just as you would in an office.
Remote work involves implementing various types of technology. They may include laptops or devices, video conferencing tools, fast internet, VPNs, anti-virus software, and communication solutions. Are you familiar with MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Asana, Google Docs, and similar products? Identify which similar products your new company uses and allocate some time to making sure you’re up to speed on how they use each, and then identify any training gaps you may have with them. Don't be shy to seek clarification from the IT department or tech-savvy colleagues. Your entire team's productivity depends on everyone being on the same page.
A reminder of essential tasks and their deadlines will help you stay focused initially. You can write them on traditional sticky notes or utilize a web or mobile app. Most teamwork tools, such as Toggl, show you just how long it will take to complete tasks. Others such as Zapier make your work easier by automating repetitive tasks so you can focus on the core assignment. Reminders help you clear high-priority jobs first and ensure you never forget any. As you ease into your new job and have conversations with colleagues, try to keep a running list of things you may be directly responsible for so you can review them with your boss for clarify.
Your newbie status might discourage you from offering ideas right away if you believe that the other team members are more qualified. BUT, on the contrary, your fresh eyes and perspective may be exactly what they need, and your suggestions could be invaluable. You may be able to identify great solutions that were not apparent to the rest. Of course, always try to get a sense for what’s open to discussion and what’s not. But don’t hesitate to jump in and show you’re eager to contribute!
Apart from sleeping, you must get sufficient rest to maintain or improve your productivity. Even though you're new, avoid overworking yourself to get up to speed extra quickly, or to prove your worth to the company. Unlike offices that have fixed hours, it can be easy to lose track of time while working remotely. By finishing your tasks within a schedule, you can create space for mental downtime, and whatever you do to stay healthy and happy.
About the Author:
Heidi Souerwine, CMP, is the Executive Director of ASAP and manages conference and content strategy for ASAP and its portfolio of products, including the APC, EA Summit, EA Ignite, and PACE. Prior to moving to Maine and joining the ASAP team in 2017, she spent 15 years in Washington, DC managing training and events from 10 – 10,000 attendees for international membership associations, non-profits, and the federal government. Heidi is passionate about needs-based program development, purposeful event design, and cultivating active community and attendee engagement.