Updated: May 5
Starting any new job presents a host of opportunities and challenges, from developing relationships and fitting in with the company culture to excelling in your position and proving your worth. However, starting a job remotely adds other dimensions to the process which can be impacted by online communication, technology, and differing approaches to onboarding and training. For someone used to traditional, in-office settings, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Regardless, by utilizing proactive strategies, including enhancing your communication, refocusing your priorities, and making sure to maintain work-life balance, you can set yourself up for a positive job transition.
Communication in a remote office is very different than what many people are familiar with. It is critical to have a good understanding of the videoconferencing and messaging platforms that your company uses to avoid any technological barriers to work performance (see our article on video interviewing for more tips for videoconferencing success).
A great piece of advice that promotes good communication is “when in doubt, ask”.
While it can sometimes be daunting to ask questions for fear of being perceived as inexperienced or bothersome, in the remote work environment it’s even more important to make sure you understand the outcomes your supervisor is looking for. Many companies are still reworking their onboarding processes for a remote workforce; asking clarifying questions is a skillful way to ensure that your perception of work requirements aligns with your employer’s expectations.
A secondary aspect of good communication in remote workplaces involves the importance of relationship-building. In traditional offices, people get to know each other organically, whether by working in close proximity, socializing over breaks, or dropping by during open office times.
The remote environment has none of these elements and so requires a paradigm shift to intentionality of communication.
As much as possible, look for and create opportunities to speak with your co-workers one-on-one so that you can get to know your team’s personalities. This also provides a chance for you to make an impression by bringing genuineness and positivity to your interactions. Similarly to clarifying expectations, don’t hesitate to reach out to your supervisor if you have questions regarding activities or day-to-day processes for meeting the expectations of your new role.
Establishing priorities is another component that differs between in-person and remote work as a new hire. Companies in traditional settings often value the time spent in the office on specific tasks which can be directly observed by management or peers.
In the remote office, the majority of your work may be completed alone so the focus needs to shift to deliverables.
You will need to structure your time so that quantifiable results are achieved. Make sure to keep track of your successes and solicit feedback on your work whenever possible and appropriate. Even more significantly than in traditional settings, what you produce will set the tone for how you are perceived and ultimately, your value to the company.
Finally, maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life is critical to succeeding in any new job. In the remote environment, the lack of physical and emotional boundaries between workspace and home can strain this balance. Adopting a workspace that is separate or apart from the mainstream of your home, structuring your day around specific outcomes, and sticking to a formal schedule and routine can help establish boundaries between personal and work activities. See our work-from-home article for other ideas and advice on striking the balance between home and work.
While starting a new job remotely poses many challenges, there are a variety of strategies that can make you more successful. Virtual communication requires the confidence to ask clarifying questions and an increased effort to find ways to connect with co-workers. Prioritization becomes key, with deliverables and results often carrying more weight than clocked hours; effective time management and feedback are invaluable tools to achieve your goals. Implementing these approaches and maintaining a healthy work-life balance can help you thrive in any remote position.