Many of us adjusted to WFH life over the past two years, maybe even joining the so-called “great resignation” to avoid a forced return to an in-person office. Given the opportunity to start a remote gig, there’s no shortage of reasons to opt for the perks of working from home over in-person roles.
Still, remote or not, the first day of a new job is anxiety-inducing. All of the wisdom about making a solid impression on your first day comes from in-person practices of a different world: the firm handshake, poking your head in someone’s office to introduce yourself, grabbing lunch with a coworker to get to know them. Have all these nuances of the before times gone out the window? How can you translate these small — yet crucial — connections on the first day of your remote job?
Toni Frana, career services manager at FlexJobs and Remote.co., tells us her top tips for starting a new position remotely. Here are all the small things you can do from home to ensure that you set yourself up for success from day one on the job.
Ask how your boss prefers to communicate
Frana says that frequent and proactive communication is critical for employees and employers alike. Different teams use different communication tools for different reasons, and you’ll want to clarify exactly how your new team goes about things.
Make sure to have a conversation with your boss where you directly confirm what type of communication they prefer. This means going over frequency (like regular check-ins) as well as mode of communication (Slack for small questions, video calls for longer chats, etc).
Frana gives us a sample script to send along to your boss: “How do you prefer I communicate with you throughout the work day?” Frana continues: “This shows them you understand this dynamic, and you’re trying to communicate in the way that meets their needs.” Having this conversation is key not just to make a strong first impression, but for you to personally prevent burnout, misunderstandings, and wasted time.
Ask for feedback sooner than later
Don’t wait for your boss to retroactively set expectations. There’s no doubt that it’s harder to “read the room” and gauge your own work performance when things are remote. During your initial conversation about communications preferences, request to set aside some time for feedback within your first few days. It takes more effort to stand out in remote positions, but it’s also easier to seem proactive — even if that’s as simple as getting a five-minute “how am I doing?” meeting on the calendar.
Schedule meetings with your coworkers
Take the social initiative on your first day. You don’t need to hop on all the video calls right away, but at least make the effort to try and get a brief 15-minute meeting in the books with all the members of your team.
When you’re on those introductory calls, focus on building the kind of rapport that’s more challenging to recreate over Slack and email. Feel free to ask questions about the job specifically, but this call should really be about getting face time to prove that you’re real people to each other. I’m of the mind that coworkers don’t need to be best friends. At the same time, getting to know the real people behind the job title can make a huge difference in everyone’s morale.
Send a quick “thanks”
A little gratitude can go a long way. In addition to being good manners, you’ll show your coworkers that you recognise and appreciate all the ways they’re helping you out. This can be as simple as “Thanks for welcoming me to the team!” to “Thanks for answering so many questions today!” This quick, personalised message of thanks is a nice touch to close out your first day.
Keep yourself sane with a routine
Now that you know how to prove to your team that you’re competent and cool, you need to remember to take care of yourself, too. “Whether you’re just starting a work-from-home job or are a seasoned remote worker, it’s important to establish and stick to a routine, as it can help you organise your day, stay focused, and enable you to ‘punch out’ at a set quitting time,” Frana says.
After two years of WFH tips and tricks, you might be rolling your eyes here. But for your own sanity, Frana says to make sure that the following habits are all part of your WFH lifestyle:
- Start every work day with the same routine and do the same for the end of the day.
- Get ready for work just as if you’re working in an office. Don’t roll out of bed and head to your desk. Take time to wake up, prepare yourself, and get to your home office with a clear head, ready to work.
- Create a permanent space from which to work so you feel anchored every day. Even the same corner of your living room can work if you use it every day.
- Take full advantage of the freedom and control afforded by remote work. Make yourself comfortable and take time for yourself during the day, if you can. Think short breaks for fresh air, or getting some personal responsibilities accomplished on company time.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, practice some self care. You’re the “new guy” (gender neutral) in town, and you have to give yourself time to learn about your new team’s way of doing things.
So while you give yourself time to adjust to company culture and expectations, make sure you’re not overworking by accident. Frana points out remote workers often work longer hours, because there’s a pervasive assumption that their work is always available. “Put your laptop away, close your office door, and silence your phone’s work email notifications during non-work hours,” Frana says, “so you can switch off your work brain and focus on your personal life.”
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