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Starting a remote job during a pandemic

So, you’ve made it through a grueling, remote interview process and have landed yourself that dream job, or at least, a version of it. But that was just the beginning of what is gearing up to be an anxiety-ridden time in your career due to COVID-19 and imposed remote working. However, it does not have to be this way.

Here we look at what it is really like for an employee starting a new position during a pandemic. We are armed with tips for getting through those early days of your new from-home job, and successfully navigating remote employment.

What starting a remote job is really like

First day nerves are natural, but if anything, at least in your new remote job you can hide behind a screen, there are no sweaty palm handshakes, and no awkward hovering when you don’t know where to put yourself either.

Meeting colleagues

Meeting your colleagues over the internet can be extremely challenging. There will be feelings of anxiety around introducing yourself, and without knowing anyone you can soon feel very isolated. But be bold, an informal ‘hello’ is all it takes to set the ball rolling. Whether that’s via the work chat platform such as Slack, or over a quick video call - which really helps to put faces to names.

A classic approach, the elevator pitch may work well here. “Hi, I’m [Name], I’m joining the [project] team, I’ve got relevant experience in [example].” This opens up the introductions for them to do the same. If you are doing this over video call then be sure to carefully consider your background. Items on a shelf such as a photo of your travels could break the ice as conversation starters. As could that knock at the door from a delivery person, or the kids or pets interrupting. Ditch the pressure to be seen as professional, this is not a second (or third) interview. Introducing yourself to your new colleagues is all about keeping it real, and building connections.

Getting stuck into the work

As a new employee, transitioning into the initial tasks of a new role is not easy, but doing this remotely can be even harder. You can’t watch the tech guy set up your software and logins, nor tap on the shoulder of the person next to you to ask for help. But all is not lost, and there are still plenty of ways to adjust to your new position.

Ahead of starting, get your tech set up as best you can. Whilst employers may wait to set up your logins there is no harm in asking what software and tools the company uses in order to familiarise yourself with them. It’s worth finding out your new team size, asking for some project background and status information too, if you didn’t already ask about these at the interview stage. It may also be handy to know specifics such as who in your team is also working remotely, or if anyone else is a recent employee who has only ever been a remote team member.

When it comes to learning the role, whilst messaging can be a frustrating way to be briefed on a task, you should never make assumptions. Be sure to clarify you have understood what is being asked of you, request a client or project cheat sheet, and be sure to have all the information. There is nothing more stressful and anxiety-inducing than feeling lost when left to your own devices to make something happen. Yes, your co-workers are busy and you may think you are bothering them, but it will be more of a bother to them if you misinterpret and make mistakes.

Going forward

Whether remote employment is set to be a permanent or temporary thing for you, there is plenty you can do to get the best from your set up. Building connections with your colleagues foremost. Focus on communicating with your fellow workers frequently and on both formal and informal levels, schedule it into your day if needs be. You will benefit from feeling involved as part of the team, and prevent feelings of isolation.

Next up, look for the positives in the situation. With remote working there are no lengthy commutes, you’re saving money on fuel, coffees and lunches out. You can work in comfortable clothing and with any luck, in peace and quiet. And to top it all off, it’s been found that remote workers are more productive! Though daunting at first, you really can make the best of your new remote employment.