How to Fit in at a New Company While Working Remotely
In the pre-COVID world, remote work was generally a rare perk, most often found in the tech world. But two years of public health necessity have made work-from-home at least a few days a week the norm for many. A February 2022 Pew Research study found that nearly 60 percent of workers who can do their jobs remotely are doing so—which means if you’re starting a new job, chances are good it involves at least some remote work. To ensure a successful start in your new remote job, you will want to incorporate these five strategies during your first months on the job.
1. Ask the right questions as soon as you accept the offer
As soon as you say “yes” to a remote position, start asking questions about the onboarding process. If you are working for a company headquartered in another city, will your equipment be shipped to you? Do you have any choice in what computer you receive? If your job is only partially remote or the company is headquartered nearby, do you need to visit the office in-person on your first day to pick up a laptop and fill out HR paperwork? Will your HR orientation and job-specific training take place virtually? Make sure you have the lay of the land so you can plan appropriately.
2. Set up your home workspace for success
In the harried early days of the pandemic, when we were all working from home “for two weeks to flatten the curve,” it was acceptable to set up camp at the kitchen table. But if you are taking a permanent remote position, you need a permanent remote workspace at your home. This will not only help you stay focused as you’re working but also help you maintain critical boundaries between work and personal life. Ideally, you will have a desk with space for extra monitors, if needed, and a door you can close during Zooms, unless you live alone.
3. Make sure you understand your company’s definition of “remote”
“Remote” means different things to different companies. It could mean no one cares when or where you do your work as long as it gets done—or that you are still expected to maintain availability during core business hours and packing up and working from a beach house will be frowned on. Make sure you have clarity on your new employer’s definition of remote from the get-go, and as you begin working, pay attention to your colleagues’ behavior to see how it plays out culturally.
4. Be proactive and ask for meetings
Your new manager may have already set up introductory meetings between you and colleagues both in and out of your department. If not, ask for them. Meeting for 30 minutes via video conference with the key stakeholders in your role will help you understand your place in the company and get to know them on a more personal level. It is easier to strike up a Slack conversation with someone after an initial face-to-face conversation, even if it’s over Zoom.
Then, as you move forward, do not be shy about asking both your manager and your peers for quick 10- to 15-minutes chats a few times a week to check in and make sure you are on the same page. It is hard to replicate conversations at the coffee machine or office drop-bys, but this can help. Of course, everyone will have various levels of comfort with this, but asking will 1) allow you to get a good feel for company culture and 2) let you quickly know who can be a go-to resource.
5. Be Sherlock Holmes, and learn everything you can
The first few weeks on the job is your time to play detective. Look for clues wherever you can about the company’s culture and how things really work. Do your colleagues share GIFs in chats, or is the communication more traditional? How formally are meetings run?
Be sure to read any resources provided, and if you find yourself tripped up by company-specific jargon, be sure to ask what it means. You don’t want to be left guessing.
The basics of succeeding in a new position are similar whether it’s in-person or remote—you just need to be a bit more proactive when remote. Opportunities to gain experience will not fall into your lap. Take the initiative.