Starting a new job remotely involves a different first few weeks to how things would be in a face-to-face workplace.
Sitting with colleagues at nearby desks brings a lot of on-the-spot impromptu interactions, informal networking and soaking up the office culture. You also learn a lot about how people do their jobs by just watching them and overhearing conversations - with each other or when they’re speaking to clients on the phone.
Of course, that’s lacking with remote work. And that can make it harder for you to learn how things are done - especially if you’re just starting out in your career. So until you get a chance to go into a physical workplace and meet your new colleagues in person - whether that’s full time or only part of the week - here’s how to boost your chances of learning, bonding, networking and generally feeling connected...
We’ve talked before about things to do in your first week in a new job - back before many of us switched to remote working (and you can read about what we feel are the five smartest actions in your first week or work, here).
While it might be true that starting a job remotely you have to do more to get noticed, this piece still has some good takeaways, including making sure everyone knows your name and keeping a note of the things you receive good feedback on.
Don’t assume your manager will set up networking opportunities for you (they might, but chances are they’ll have other priorities).
At HR GO our advice is to create your own strategy for who you’d like to speak to on a video or audio call within the first month, two months and three months - and try to stick to it each week. Start with your own colleagues, then gradually widen your scope. Who else do they think it would be worth speaking to so you can find out more about the company?
Getting to know your colleagues will be a little trickier when you can’t bump into them by the printer. So you’ll have to make social media work harder for you. Number one on the list is to connect with your new team on LinkedIn and make an effort to interact with or share work things they post. (If your profile could do with some love, follow our LinkedIn tips here.)
Should you follow colleagues on their other social channels straight away? If it seems right, and it’s appropriate. Since the pandemic, digital networking has leapfrogged in-person interactions. Also, seeing what others post will give you a better sense of who they are as people - plus help you spot any connections you have and give you things to talk about.
Remote working has been a good leveller. And if in pre-pandemic days you might have felt self-conscious about stopping by someone’s desk to introduce yourself, video calls let you tap into someone’s private workspace and remove that barrier.
Use your newbie status to your advantage and try to speak to people that in normal times you wouldn’t necessarily come across. Your mission is to find out more about the company beyond your immediate team. Perhaps ask if it’s possible to screen-share with someone more senior, a mentor or a ‘buddy’ while they run through a particular issue or project with you?
Most organisations know it’s harder for new starters to integrate themselves into the team remotely. So take advantage of any extras on offer - from virtual team chats and knowledge-sharing sessions to remote happy hours. Our tip? Make a special effort to jump on any of these events that aren’t strictly work-related. Just as in a physical workplace, the best way to form relationships is when you remove your work hats and spend time with each other as people.
It’s true that starting a job remotely means you’ll have missed out on some of the office culture and community created when a team is all together. But that doesn’t make virtual ‘water cooler’ moments any less valuable.