Starting a new job used to mean dressing the right way, showing up on time, and getting to know the names and faces of your colleagues. While some of this still holds true when it comes to remote work, the way we work has changed.
There is no question that it’s harder to make personal connections while working remotely – you can’t chat around the water cooler, smile as you pass a colleague, or go for lunch with your supervisor. However, here are several ways you can be sure to stand out when starting your new remote job:
Create a workspace where you can succeed
Working from home can mean better work-life balance if done properly. To be successful, you should start by creating an area that is dedicated to your job. A separate room where you can shut the door is ideal, but even a desk in the corner of a room can work.
Before your first day on the job, make sure you have everything you need. Check that:
- Your Wi-Fi can handle the online traffic you’ll need to deal with.
- You have the right hardware and software (check with your supervisor or HR department to make sure).
- Your company-issued devices (if these are being issued) have arrived. Don’t wait until the first day to ask about them.
- Your equipment is set up so you can work with it comfortably.
- You know how your equipment works. You don’t want the rest of the team to wait while you fiddle with the microphone so you can introduce yourself.
- Your background during video meetings is professional and distraction-free.
- You have good lighting, especially during video conferences.
- You have the office supplies you’ll need, such as pens, notepads, and paperclips.
- You know who to contact in your company for technical support in case a glitch occurs.
Make a good first impression
Dress as if you were going onsite. Not only does it make a good impression, but it helps you separate your workday from your personal time.
Respect the time of your colleagues. It’s a great way to make people notice you favourably. You can do this by:
- Being at your screen a few minutes before a meeting starts
- Responding quickly when your manager or co-workers contact you
- Meeting deadlines on time or possibly even earlier
Create a great on-screen presence. Remember to smile during introductions and to adjust the angle of the camera so it captures your face and shoulders. You may need to set your laptop on some books to avoid being videoed from a low, unflattering angle. By looking into the camera instead of on screen, you’ll appear to be looking directly at your colleagues.
Ask lots of sensible questions. This is a fine balance. Not saying a word during those first online meetings can give the impression you don’t care. On the other hand, asking questions just for the sake of asking can make you look uninformed. If you’re on a team, make sure you know what your role is, where it fits within the broader company structure and what digital platforms the team uses. You could ask if the company has specific expectations for staff who work offsite, such as daily check-ins or weekly meetings.
Show that you’re engaged and interested
Working remotely means that your co-workers and supervisors can’t see you working. To assure them that you are working (and dispel the remote-worker myth of the binge-watching couch potato), you’ll need to use your digital tools to communicate and stay engaged.
How to ramp up communication
Get to know the collaboration and communication tools your employer uses. Most software platforms have guides for new users to follow. Some employers may have developed their own process documents or user manuals outlining how they prefer to use these tools.
Respond to emails, texts, and phone calls promptly during work hours. If you don’t have the information requested, let the sender know you’ll respond once you have all the details. Prompt responses show you’re on the job.
Try to speak up at each meeting to show you’re engaged in the discussion. Before meetings, prepare an update of your work and a list of questions or concerns you may have.
Overcommunicate. Instead of attaching a report to an email that says, “Here’s my report,” add the specific details you want noted or the actions you expect the person to take. When you work remotely, you need to spell that out. Remember that co-workers aren’t mind-readers.
Provide frequent check-ins. Offer to send your manager regular, brief updates of your work. Each Friday, for example, you could message your supervisor about the items you worked on and completed that week, and what you plan to start work on the following week. Use bullets to keep it short. Check in with your manager to make sure they find your updates helpful. Adjust the timing and format to meet their needs.
Working remotely doesn’t mean you can ignore all the usual new job basics. For example, you should still ask about an employee handbook to help you learn company policies and try to understand the workplace culture. But, by creating a successful remote workspace, making a good impression, and communicating effectively with your colleagues, your new remote job will be off to a great start.