Starting a new job can be enough to give anyone the jitters, but navigating the ins and outs of a position during COVID-19 is another thing entirely. I started working at Voxus in June, but found myself navigating the onboarding process and meeting my new colleagues virtually through a laptop screen.
With most offices still closed – and some planning to maintain remote workforces through 2021 – how do you embrace virtual training, get to know your coworkers from your living room, or even understand and embed into the company culture when you get no in-person interaction? It’s a new challenge faced by many employees and employers. My advice: patience and flexibility will get you far, but the following tips will ensure you can hit the ground running.
Don’t delay, set up your workspace immediately
While working from the sofa sounds great, it won’t leave you feeling energized and ready to work. Before your first day, set up an at-home workspace in a distraction-free environment. Make sure you have a comfortable chair and desk, as well as any office accessories you find useful (and don’t be afraid to ask your employer if you need supplies). Familiarize yourself with company materials you’ve received, including configuring any hardware (laptops, adapters, etc.) a day or two ahead of your first day. Getting these tasks out of the way will ensure you’re unencumbered and ready to hit the ground running.
Get ready for a different kind of onboarding
Thanks to social distancing and telework, traditional onboarding has gone the way of the dodo. Maybe you’ll sit in a conference room at least six feet apart from your manager with slides and instructions on where to find the company’s server. Or maybe your onboarding will look something like mine: 100% virtual through the use of a company laptop and Zoom calls. Whatever way onboarding is handled, these are unconventional times for both you and your new employer. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and make the best of a challenging situation.
Set up your support network
Of course, scheduling frequent check-ins with your managers is the best source of ongoing support. A welcome addition to this was being assigned a work buddy my very first day at Voxus. She made a huge difference during the transition. When offices are open, it’s always nice to have someone on hand to ask about nearby lunch spots or the code to the bathroom – it’s the same working remotely, too! My buddy has been invaluable when it comes to questions about server access, company culture, and acclimating to the new position best practices. Likewise, each employee is assigned a Voxus Partner as a mentor. Mine offers advice, listens to me spitball creative ideas, and helps shape my career goals. Having a solid support network from the get-go is a great way to boost confidence when you’re the new kid on the block. If you don’t have that, seek out a mentor either internally or externally.
Keep your tone clear/neutral
My default when speaking is generally dry and a little sarcastic – not ideal when trying to make a good first impression, especially virtually! Until you and your coworkers have gotten to know each other’s personalities and humor, keep your language neutral and clear – and lead with empathy. If unsure, emulate how your managers and colleagues talk to each other until you get a better feel for their communication style. Furthermore, with so much digital communication, take note of how teams communicate on Slack (for example with emoji usage or gifs), and when reading emails, note formality when interacting with clients, partners or customers.
Be the extrovert, even if you’re an introvert
First of all, don’t take it personally if your new coworkers don’t remember your name that first week! Most of us don’t have photographic memories and it’s common to blank on names when you get several introductions at once and are stuck on video calls all day. It can be even harder to remember people when you’ve never met them face-to-face. Force yourself to be an extrovert. Don’t be afraid to remind your new coworkers who you are and your position at the company.
Starting a new job in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic isn’t anyone’s idea of an easy career move, but when you have a well-organized plan and great support from your new managers and colleagues, sky’s the limit. Remember, everyone’s struggling with this new normal. Take a deep breath, listen, show empathy, and be helpful – we’re all rowing in the same direction.