A new job comes with a lot of uncharted territory. There are new skills to learn, company norms to get accustomed to, and a parade of people to meet, so it’s totally normal to be a bit nervous.
Starting a new job remotely adds another level of unpredictability, which can heighten the first-day jitters. Will you be able to pick up the job fast enough? Make a good impression on your boss? Get to know your coworkers? Balance all your work with the distractions of being at home?
Whereas the typical first day on the job includes an orientation, a bunch of paperwork, and people popping by your desk to say hello, the first day as a remote employee looks pretty different. Not only will you be working in the same space where you live–and possibly sharing that space with other family members or roommates–but you’ll need to pick up many things on the fly, as well.
If you’re gearing up for a virtual onboarding, you might be unsure of what to expect, but you’re certainly not alone. As much as 30% of the U.S. workforce¹ is expected to be working from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021. Doing a little preparation ahead of time will help you feel more comfortable and make sure things go as smoothly as possible on your first day on the job.
How to Navigate a New Job Working Remotely
Set Up Your Space
Working from your couch is one of the perks of being a remote employee, right? Well, not so fast. If at all possible, we highly recommend setting up a dedicated space where you’ll “go to work” every day rather than just lounging on a cushy piece of living room furniture.
For starters, working from the couch can do a number on your back pretty quickly, and you want to feel your best in your first few days on the job. If you don’t have a dedicated work space, you’re also more prone to distractions, like answering the front door for a solicitor or meandering over to the fridge a few too many times an hour.
Finally, having a dedicated place that you go to each morning and leave at the end of the day can help maintain the line between your work and home life, which is crucial for your sanity when both things take place in the same location. If you’ve already been working from home for a while, consider moving your desk to a new corner or maybe adding a houseplant to the space to signal to your brain that it’s a fresh start.
Check Your Tech Ahead of Time
When you’re a remote employee, there’s no IT wizard down the hall to help you quickly troubleshoot tech issues. To make sure technical difficulties don’t slow you down before you even get started, get your gear set up and give it a test run in advance of your start date.
If your company is providing a work laptop, fire it up and make sure it’s compatible with any other hardware you’ll be using. Make sure you have a fast, reliable internet connection and a quality headphone/microphone set. Find out what kind of credentials you’ll need to access the company’s shared workspaces and ask about getting them set up ahead of time so you can hit the ground running on day one.
Gather Intel on Expectations
Good communication is important in any job, but it becomes even more paramount when you can’t see your coworkers in person. Take it upon yourself to ascertain what’s expected of you, even beyond what you’re told directly. Check in about the goals you should aim to accomplish in your first 30, 60 and 90 days so you can map a clear path to meeting them.
Ask lots of questions, especially if something is unclear. Better to get the “newbie questions” out of the way during your first week than to wait and feel awkward asking later! Also, check in with your peers about your company’s norms for communicating with one another. Is email the preferred channel, or does everyone use another platform like Slack? Are phone conversations common, or would it be breaking some unspoken rule if you called a colleague? The more information you can gather about how things work, the better you’ll be able to transition smoothly into your new role.
Take the Initiative To Make Connections
One of the downsides of working from home is missing out on all the informal workplace interactions that build camaraderie and help you learn by osmosis, like swapping weekend stories or getting to listen in as coworkers handle clients. These may seem like small things, but they can make a big difference in how engaged you feel with your job. So, it’s in your best interest to seek out opportunities to make these connections with colleagues.
Ask new peers to hop on a quick video call so you can meet face to face. Participate in the non-work-related chatter on Slack. Join in on the office Zoom happy hour or book club. Building a circle of work acquaintances even when you’re not in the same place will ensure you don’t miss out on the important professional connections that can serve you for the duration of your career.
Be a Friendly Face
Literally! Add your photo to your email signature as well as your profile on Google Meet, Teams, Slack or any other collaborative platforms used by your new employer to help your new coworkers get to know you faster.
When participating in a virtual meeting, introduce yourself before you speak (“Hi everyone, this is John,” followed by whatever you have to say). Since your new colleagues don’t have the benefit of stopping by to introduce themselves, this will make it easier to put a face and voice with your name.
Err On The Side of Caution
Sending an email that contains only a thumbs-up emoji in response to a colleague’s question might be completely fine in many workplaces. In others, it might be viewed as wildly unprofessional. Until you know which camp your new company is in, it’s best to play it safe and err on the more formal side in your communications.
The same goes for your language, like saying “good morning” versus “hey guys!” It may turn out that your new company’s culture is a texting-friendly, slang-heavy, emoji-loving one, but it’s better to make a first impression that’s as professional as possible until you know for sure.
Looking for a Remote Job? 4 Corner Resources Can Help
If you’re looking for a remote job that provides flexibility while utilizing your skills and challenging you to grow, turn to the headhunters at 4 Corner Resources. We’re a team of experts that match hardworking professionals with great jobs at companies in healthcare, IT, administration, marketing, and more.