A Virtual Journey: What You Should Know About Starting a New Job During Lockdown
This week marks my first month since joining The Evergreen Agency. Although I applied for the role during lockdown, I could never have imagined that I’d be starting a new role from home and one month in, still not have met any of my colleagues in person.
The first month of any new job is always tricky. Not only are you going through the onboarding process but you’re getting to know who you will be working with, the company culture, the ways of working and most importantly activating the work you will be doing. Add remote working into the mix and each output becomes amplified. Small things. I haven’t been able to tap a colleague on the shoulder to ask whether I am recording my timesheets accurately or I haven’t had as many informal conversations with my colleagues where you unconsciously find out so much about them. Verbally asking in conversation, “do you have any siblings’ definitely feels more natural than typing it.
However, although circumstances are far from ordinary, they haven’t been impossible. I have been able to experience how supportive and passionate my new team is about the agency and the work that everyone contributes, how warm a welcome can be even if it is virtual, and how quickly you can grasp and understand the onboarding process from afar.
From my first interview to a month into the role, below I have outlined what you should know about starting a new job during lockdown so that you can hit the ground running as efficiently as possible.
Trial run your tech before your first day
Your first day can be daunting enough. You’re met with brand new faces and thrust into onboarding meetings, the last thing you then want is technical issues or problems logging into essential platforms. If you can, request to receive your laptop a couple of days in advance of you starting so that you can set time aside with the relevant people who can get you set up with your email, relevant passwords and software installation. This way, your first day can be spent as productively as possible rather than facing technical glitches.
Get to know your colleagues
There will come a time when we all return back to a familiar way of working and that includes working alongside your colleagues under the same roof. Fortunately, in my second interview I was able to meet the team over a Zoom call so that I could put faces to names on my first day. If you’re going through the interview process, this is something I would highly recommend requesting, if your team usually works in the same office. This made a huge impact on my first week at work because it felt like I had familiarised myself with people already so broaching any direct communications with them was a lot less daunting than if I hadn’t received an introductory meeting. As well, during the course of your first month you would usually spend time with your colleagues outside of the workplace. Whether that be an introductory lunch or a planned social. Without this, it is crucial to immerse yourself into the team by taking part in virtual pub quizzes or after work drinks to get to know your team on a personal level. These really are crucial icebreakers and you will be surprised at just how quickly you can get to know each other and find things in common.
It has been reported that it typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity. So, when starting your new role remotely it is important to remember to manage personal expectations. Aim to adjust to a slower pace of working in the beginning so that you can fully understand all of your onboarding requirements. No one is expecting you in the first month to grasp all aspects of the business and your role, so while you’ve got time on your side during lockdown, ensure to sponge up as much information as possible. Being onboarded remotely means we are without the luxury of asking questions face-to-face which are usually met with an on the spot answer. However, this can be replaced with being proactive and taking the initiative to find the answer yourself at your own comfortable pace. All businesses are adjusting and with every role, there will be a few growing pains in the beginning.
Don’t burn out
Starting a new role means that there is a lot to learn and take on board. However, coupled with spending more hours than we usually would at our desks can lead you to feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Of course, you want to show willingness and being a new employee means you need to grasp what you’re doing with as little physical guidance as possible which will mean putting in the hours, but be kind to yourself. Ensure to take regular breaks and set an alarm to stop work at the end of the day. It is easy to continue plugging away at your desk because the commute is non-existent and you’re already at home, so adopting some self discipline will mean you’re as sharp as a whistle for the next day.
Don’t be afraid to share information and feedback
Starting a new role is all about learning, soaking up new experiences, ways of working and adapting to a new environment. However, being a new employee means you’re in a unique position to see things with fresh eyes. Of course, as you’re new, you don’t want to appear to be outspoken and not saying anything at all can often be the easier option. However, if the opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to offer solutions for improvement or advice. Everyone is learning and adapting during lockdown so if you spot something that can be enhanced or you have a solution you feel is worth sharing, then take the initiative to share the information with your wider team.
Unless your question is of crucial importance to be answered immediately, it is worth being efficient and sensitive with your time and that of the person whose answers you require. Making a list of the queries you have is a really good way to make sure nothing is missed out and all questions are answered. This could be asking questions at the end of the day or by scheduling a weekly catch up with your manager. In the first month or two of your job you will, of course, have plenty of questions to ask which will involve email or messenger. However, adjusting to the way you ask these questions, in the long run, will mean a more efficient process from your end and of your colleagues.
This is especially the case when you join a digital agency who live and breathe all things online, making the transition into a new role uncomplicated and fluid. There isn’t a substitute for face-to-face relationship building and I am so excited to meet my colleagues properly (we’ve been discussing how tall we are in person which is an odd conversation to have…) but remote working is possible, it just requires a mindset adjustment and a working microphone and you can begin your career.
Key takings, so far…
I have enjoyed my first month working at The Evergreen Agency immensely. The experience of starting a new job remotely during a global pandemic is a surreal one but it has been hugely positive and rewarding so far. You do need to be prepared to plough in a few additional hours to just help yourself get up to speed with the work you will be doing and the onboarding process. In the office environment, you are completely immersed in the team. From catching conversations to watching how other people do their work. In some cases, starting remotely you are blind to this and you need to find your way efficiently.
‘Slotting in’ with your team, naturally, takes time too as you get to know them, but after just four weeks, I feel like I’ve known them for four years! I have been really lucky to find a group of people to work with who are dedicated to their jobs, but are so friendly and welcoming. Here’s to one month!