Tips to start a new job remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic...

According to ‘Statistics Canada’, Canada 3 million jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis. Although this trend of job cuts, salary cuts and reduced working hours has continued to grip the Canadian economy since the onset of the pandemic, analysts believe that the picture is not all grim.

A trending LinkedIn article suggests that sectors like Logistics & Supply Chain, Healthcare, Customer Service, essential goods and services, last-mile delivery, groceries and even some IT businesses are still hiring amidst the COVID lockdown.

If you are one of those lucky few starting a new job amid the COVID crises, you may have an interesting challenge ahead of you.

Pre-Covid, your first day at a new job may have been full of excitement and jitters. Everyone looks forward to getting acclimatized to the new manager, co-workers and the workplace culture. But if you are starting your first day working remotely, it’s still the same new day experience, but in a different format. You still need to get acclimatized to your manager and team and try to assess the workplace culture. However, it can be a tricky transition, especially if your company does not have a formal virtual on-boarding procedure in place. Working remotely doesn’t mean you need to miss out on getting to know your team and work culture.

Here are some tips to help you transition in a new job role remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Tip 1 – Get ready for remote work

Two key aspects of efficient remote working are ensuring you have a proper space and the right technology to carry out your daily tasks efficiently. Remember that you will be sitting at one place for 6-8 hours a day when working remotely. Check that you have a comfortable seating desk, good quality internet connection and a reliable laptop or desktop arrangement. All these checks must ideally be performed before your first day at work so that the transition to your new “work from home” is easy and smooth.

Some job roles may require you to install additional hardware or software on your laptop that your company may have couriered you. Test that your new equipment or software are working correctly before your first day to avoid interruptions in your work. If you have questions or need troubleshooting with new equipment, reach out to your manager at the earliest over an email.

Tip 2 First Day – Make it count!

Your first day at a new job is extremely important to set you for success. When joining work remotely, it is likely that you will have a number of video calls on the first day of your new job with your manager, colleagues, HR team and in some cases, even clients. Be well groomed and dress up professionally for your virtual first day. If you are not sure about the right attire, reach out to your manager or HR to understand dressing protocols. Clear any clutter around your desk and have a pen and notepad ready for noting jotting down important information during these first calls.

Tip 3 – Take the initiative

Whether it is introducing yourself to your new team, building a rapport with your reporting manager or understanding your organizational culture, take the initiative. Working on all these critical aspects in a remote work situation can be difficult, but you can take some proactive steps to do it. Set up individual meetings with your manager and team members after your first introductory team meeting. That way you can have a one-one conversation with everyone in your team. This helps to foster bonding with your new team, it will help you to know everyone’s role in detail and assist in building a great working relationship in future. Being new to work means you may need to seek help and assistance from your team sometimes. Knowing their role and responsibilities can help you reach the right person to answer your questions, which will be important in the initial few days of your new job. 

Tip 4 – Vocalizing your work and updates

One of the key aspects of virtual work is reporting and updating, not only to your manager, but also to your team. If working on an individual project, have a conversation about reporting and update protocols with your manager. Understand how they prefer to be reported about your work and how frequently. If working as part of a team, make a note of how the team members report based on team meeting or by checking with your team lead. Offer to discuss your work and contribution during your team meetings so everyone is aware of your work.

Understand what tools and software they are using to communicate. Are they using slack to track larger projects? How are they communicating informally and formally? For example, instant messaging; mobile texts, emails? What is the right format for the content of the conversations?

Tip 5 – Asking Questions

No matter how experienced you are, at some point it is likely that you may experience a roadblock or have a question in your new job. When working in office, you may be able to simply walk-in to a colleague’s desk or to your manager to ask him a question. However, in virtual workspace, it has to be handled differently. Most organizations today understand this and have weekly virtual meetings dedicated to help teams with any work issues and roadblocks. Inquire about such meetings with your manager or team and request to be a part of them. Even if you may not have any questions initially, you can learn a lot through these meetings which can help you get acclimatize to your new role.

Tip 6 – Set expectations and establish boundaries

One of the key aspects of managing efficient work from home is drawing a line between work and personal time. Understand expectations around working hours from your manager and make sure to stay offline in your personal time. It not only helps you to achieve better work-life balance, but also makes you look professional. Moreover, having this distinction from onset also helps your colleagues and managers to plan your work efficiently.

There is no doubt that starting a job remotely is a very different and totally new experience for some and you may find it challenging at first. But establishing a ‘work from home schedule’ and having some advanced planning can help you to transition in your new virtual job easily.

Congrats on the new job and good luck!