Starting a new role is daunting, especially in a remote-first world. Your onboarding period won't involve as much face-to-face time with your manager, working amongst your new colleagues, or getting a feel for the new office space. But with the right preparation and mindset, you can still get involved with the company culture and have a successful induction period.
The world of work underwent a seismic shift at the beginning of last year, with companies around the globe introducing hiring freezes on the back of the initial wave of Covid-19 uncertainty. For those that didn’t, and those that have since resumed hiring, many aspects of the recruitment and onboarding process has been adapted to suit a remote-first world.
The results of a study from Enterprise Technology Research suggests that the percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to double during 2021, and most companies are announcing hybrid models that involve a mixture of home and office-based arrangements for the post-pandemic workplace.
This means there’s a likelihood that you’ll be joining a new job and getting far less face-to-face interaction with your colleagues or the leadership team than you might be used to. In order to maintain the same level of engagement and ensure you have a meaningful induction period, your new employer has likely made adjustments to account for the new way of working, but there are still steps you can take to ensure a confident start.
Set up a new workspace
It can be helpful to create a new, designated space where you’ll work from home for the majority of the time, or by refreshing your existing WFH setup to mark the transition to a new role.
You may be in the same house or apartment space, but marking the occasion by changing the furniture arrangement, introducing some houseplants, or even changing a desktop wallpaper can provide a different feel for when starting the new role.
Prepare an email to your team
Your line manager has likely already alerted all or relevant colleagues when you’ll be joining, but preparing a message to your team (or to the whole business, depending on the size of the organisation) is your chance to provide the strong first impression that is often missing when in a remote setting but comes naturally in a face-to-face environment.
It’s your opportunity to break the ice from day one, explain a bit about your background, and let the team know what excites you about joining.
Get ready for a new style of onboarding
Logistics of employee onboarding are wildly different from that of an in-person process. In the last year we’ve worked with clients that have transformed their onboarding process into a mixture of physically distanced in-person meetings and remote sessions from home, and equally worked with candidates who have been mailed their work equipment and onboarded entirely over Zoom.
Policies at your new organisation and the fast-changing health situation will dictate what your initial few weeks will look like as you become accustomed to your new role, so it’s a good idea to enquire about the logistics of the onboarding process through a quick note to your recruiter or new HR team ahead of your first day.
Learn the communication channels
Whether it’s through MS Teams, a Slack channel, or simply over email, learning how to communicate digitally with your manager and colleagues is imperative for effective collaboration.
Great working relationships are built on communication and trust, so ask those you’re working closest with what their preferred method of outreach is when engaging in collaboration, and in turn let them know yours. Setting a standard of communication as early on in your role as possible will facilitate a smooth integration process and enable stronger collaboration.
Identify a mentor/buddy
A major aspect of many onboarding and training processes is appointing a mentor or buddy, who you, as a new starter, will shadow whilst they perform some of the day-to-day elements of their role.
It can be a challenge to adapt this to a virtual setting, as many of the nuances that make up a role or are specific to an organisation simply can’t be articulated in training documents. Your new employer may already have a virtual mentorship programme in place, but if you haven’t been assigned one, gauge during any one-to-one or team meetings with your department who might be appropriate as a go-to for any questions about the company culture, team dynamic or anything else that might fall outside what is usually taught by your manager.
Acknowledge there’ll be a learning curve
It’s natural to start a new role with the expectation of getting stuck in straight away, getting involved in projects and delivering straight away; after all, your desire, determination and skills are likely what landed you the job in the first place.
But it’s important to recognise this is an entirely new environment with a new set of expectations, so it can be difficult to hit the ground running. Affording yourself a bit of slack during your onboarding period and taking the time to adjust will lead to less frustration if you do face hurdles, and means you’re less likely to suffer burn out in your initial few months.