As the world begins to reopen broadly, some companies will keep telework permanently. How should you cope with the challenges this can bring?
Starting a new job is often a time of jitteriness caused by excitement, nervousness and a tad of uncertainty. You likely spend the majority of your first day meeting people in the office, learning where things are like the bathroom and microwave, and getting settled in. But what does this all look like if you're working remotely?
Remote work, while beneficial in my opinion, can leave many questions up in the air. How should you communicate with your manager to grow your relationship? What's the company culture and team dynamic? Who should you go to for questions and how do you get in touch with them?
Hopefully by now, companies using a telework system have adapted their pre-COVID-19 onboarding process to ensure that new employees feel connected and confident in their support from the company. But even the best of these processes will leave employees with gaps that can make the transition onto a new team and into new work quite difficult.
Here's how you can help yourself as you dive into your new remote position.
1. Connect with your manager ASAP
Most managers will do this anyways, but if they don't you should definitely ask for some time to get to know your manager. This is the person who will hold you accountable for the work you do, or don't, get done, so it's very important to have a good working relationship with your superior. When the time comes, they will also be the person you'll need to vouch for your promotion and raise.
Aside from just getting to know your manager as a person, it's also very important to discuss how they operate and manage. Are they hands-on? Do they prefer regular communication or just check-ins every now and then? Do they delegate or oversee projects step by step? Do they prefer one-off emails or messages in a chat platform? All of these things will help you understand how they work. Similarly, this is your opportunity to share how you best work and what your manager can do to help you best succeed.
Additionally, take some time to discuss expectations your manager and the company has of you. Yes, you know the general duties of your position but there is likely more that you'll need to know. Ask what the 30-, 60- and 90-day goals are for you so you can be aware and work to achieve them with timeliness and excellence.
2. Understand your team dynamic
Your team, whether large or small, has a clear dynamic and unique communication style. Basic things like whether they communicate via email, Slack, Teams or whatever messaging platform is essential to get timely responses to the information or questions you're sending them.
It's safe to say that most companies use a messaging platform of some kind in addition to email, so be sure to ask about how people on your team communicate with each other to ensure that you gel and work well with your team as quickly as possible.
3. Ask questions
No one expects you to know everything right away, especially company-specific details you'd only know by talking to a coworker. This is why it's imperative that you ask questions and get more information when you need it.
For example, if someone sends you an email about a new project, request a brief virtual meeting to discuss more. This gives you a chance to see someone else's face, have them see yours and to engage in a live conversation where you can ask your questions and get clarification as you need it. Never think that asking questions is a nuisance because I promise that producing work with mistakes or holes that could've been filled with information you simply didn't ask for is not a good look.
4. Get to know people
This may be very challenging for various reasons, like the fact that you'll never bump into coworkers around the office. But, making efforts to get to know the people you work with outside of emails and virtual meetings can do wonders for your comfortability in your new position.
It may require some creativity and initiative, but there are ways to connect. Perhaps scheduling 15-minute one-on-one meetings with each of your new team members may work. Maybe just start each first team meeting of the week with a summary of what you all did. Or maybe, if you're like my boyfriend and his coworkers, you play Crazy 8's while on a virtual call to simulate an in-person Uno game to break the ice.
Whatever you decide, make it authentic and genuine because knowing who you work with helps you work more efficiently and trustfully.