It’s exciting to begin a job when your first day is in an office with all your new coworkers nearby. But what happens when you have a remote job?
Sitting solo in your home office, getting answers to even basic questions can be slow going. Setting up tech devices so they’re properly connected to your new company’s network is another challenge. And what about just meeting all the new people you’ll be working with?
Here are some suggestions for your first week that can help you avoid feeling isolated and set you off on the right foot in your new remote role.
Before Day One
Review all company materials available to you
Many firms now provide a formal onboarding experience for remote employees, albeit online. Smaller firms or startups may not. In either case, proactively ask for documents and links to videos the company has that can provide an overview of the firm’s policies, code of conduct and best practices. Familiarizing yourself with this information before your first day on the job can give you a head start in understanding the firm’s organizational culture and expectations for employees.
To help expedite your Day One ramp-up, ask your new supervisor for guidance on which information you should review first. If you’re confused by anything, make a list of nonurgent questions to present to your manager, as appropriate, after your first day.
Check your tech
If your new employer sends you any equipment, don’t delay in checking it out to make sure everything’s in working order. If something’s wrong, ask your manager for IT support and follow up with them.
Your company’s IT rep can also give you direction on setting up equipment if you’ll be using your own devices. Besides email, don’t forget to ask about file sharing, online collaboration tools and anything other technology or data you might need to interact with your new team effectively.
On Day One — and beyond
Check in with your boss frequently
It’s likely new supervisors will want to meet with new hires daily for the first few days. If that’s not the case for you, proactively update your manager on what you’re working on each day to make sure you’re on track.
Find opportunities to bond with your new team
Obviously, it’s more challenging to establish working relationships with new colleagues as a remote employee than if you were all in the same physical space. When you have a question or want some advice, you might send an email reminding the recipient that you’re the “new kid on the block” and have a question. Or you could start a chat as a way to build rapport with your new teammates. Also, consider setting up video chats with your company’s preferred videoconferencing tools if your new coworkers prefer to meet that way.
Beyond work, it’s helpful to establish personal connections in those first days and weeks. If there’s a Slack channel where many of your colleagues are posting photos of their pets, for example, share some pics of yours. If you discover that you have common interests with a teammate, bring up those topics in a separate conversation or share articles or thoughts about them that might spark conversation.
Discover individual preferences
Take note of how your new manager and coworkers like to interact. Some people prefer the phone, while others favor email or instant messages. The earlier you figure out how different people like to connect, the faster you’ll establish a good rapport with them.
If you don’t know, ask. Most people will be happy to share how they prefer to communicate.
Create structure as well as clear boundaries
Establish boundaries between your work and home life. If your manager hasn’t suggested working hours for you, select some and ask whether your plan is workable for your supervisor and colleagues. Try to keep these same hours each day and share any exceptions you must make as early as possible with others.
Since remote workers don’t pack their briefcases or backpacks and walk out to the company parking lot as a definite signal that the workday is over, it’s too easy to just let the work hours slide into the personal time. It’s also tempting as a remote employee to stretch your workdays out to accommodate every request, especially when trying to prove yourself in a new role where you aren’t seen in person.
Some of these actions are understandable, but be careful not to burn yourself out. Also, resist the urge to send emails if you’re working late into the evening.
Check on your progress
When you talk to your supervisor, ask for feedback. How did you do during your first week? Are there ways you can improve on communicating from afar? It’s important to get this kind of gauge when beginning in a new position, especially a remote one, to ensure you’re on the right track. You’ll also demonstrate that you’re open to constructive criticism — an important quality in any employee.
Remote work has become more common since the recent pandemic, and may companies are choosing to maintain these work arrangements for the long term. If you prefer remote jobs, the tips outlined above can help you establish authentic personal connections with your manager and colleagues so you can feel like part of the team, no matter where you all are working from.
Get more tips on setting a course for remote work success.