Despite the current circumstances, businesses are still hiring and people are still starting new roles, albeit on a remote/virtual basis. If you’ve just started a new role, while working remotely may not have been what you expected, more roles (especially in the tech sector) are increasingly becoming fully virtual, so your experience may not be as novel as it seems.
That said, this is a unique situation and we’re dealing with workplace disruption that we’ve never seen before. So, if you’re starting a new job virtually and are anxious about making a great first impression, these strategies will help you to settle in more quickly:
1. Demonstrate valuable soft skills
Businesses are increasingly making hiring decisions based on key soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability and collaboration. And while these traits will serve you well throughout your career, during an economy-transforming pandemic, these abilities are crucial to success in a new role.
• Flexibility: your primary responsibilities might have changed slightly as a result of current circumstances. Rather than panic about it, use this as an opportunity to show your agility. Chances are, your role and responsibilities will revert back in the future and those who can adapt will be the most successful.
• Proactive and productive: your colleagues may be more preoccupied than usual learning how to do their roles virtually or troubleshooting new challenges. Demonstrate that you’re self-sufficient and don’t wait for others to reach out. Take it upon yourself to learn programs, set up meetings to get to know colleagues and educate yourself on the culture, protocols and policies as much as possible.
• Attitude: it’s important not to ignore if you’re feeling anxious, uncertain or overwhelmed and to seek support, not just in the current circumstances but at any time during your career. However, be careful about venting to your new team or engaging them as confidantes for personal challenges, even if others seem to be doing this. Remember, this is still a trial period and first impressions really do count.
• Problem-solver: tech professionals who are able to anticipate and create resourceful solutions to challenges are always highly valued in businesses. Don’t hang quietly in the background, right now, you have a unique opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skillset.
2. Be vocal
When working in an office, it’s easier to see who’s putting the work in. It’s more difficult as a remote employee, especially when you’re trying to prove yourself. So, while working at home, be sure to:
• Be patient and take the lead: your boss will likely be incredibly busy with crisis management at the moment, so although you’re new to the team, it’s important to be patient with them and understand that you might need to take the lead on creating an agenda for catch ups. Send a bullet point checklist of what you’re working on, and include questions that will help you move forward.
• Get to know your colleagues: as a new starter, you’ll build a lot of new relationships by driving the process. Set up Zoom meetings with your coworkers to get to know them and learn how you can best support them in your role.
• Seek opportunities: since everyone is likely working out this new way of working, it’s important to identify problems you can solve, or reach out periodically to individual colleagues to remind them of your willingness to help.
3. Your workspace
It’s important to carve out a workspace that sets you up for success. Noise, disruptions, and poor lighting are just a few things that may get in the way when working from home. Many who live in cities will have a challenging time shutting out the sirens, honking horns or even noisy neighbours. Do the best you can and test different options (e.g. headphones), while learning the tools available on the technology platform you’re using (e.g. notification settings). Use video conferencing when available and show up on screen as you would appear in the office.
One of the top challenges when working from home is setting boundaries, but as a new employee who is proving themselves, you may be conflicted between going the extra mile and officially closing down shop at the end of the workday.
Fortunately, you can do both. Strive to be available during regular working hours via phone, email, text or whatever communication methods are regularly used in your workplace. However, communication is key and it’s important to let your team know if you need to be offline. If regular hours usually end at 6pm, let your team know how to reach you after hours in an emergency. This way you don’t need to be tied to your email or laptop. You’ll both earn respect and protect your sanity.
Remote workforces were on the rise prior to the global pandemic, with businesses in the tech sector being particular early adopters. However, current circumstances of social distancing and self-isolation have forced businesses to learn that they can survive working 100% virtually. So whether you find yourself temporarily working from home or starting a new job virtually, it’s likely that this new way of work could become much more commonplace.