If you’re starting a new job during the ongoing pandemic, it is likely that you won’t have the customary onboarding experience of even six months ago. Instead of spending a day or two in orientation, meeting your co-workers, picking up your laptop and being taken out to lunch, your introduction to your new job will almost certainly be conducted remotely. So, what can you do to successfully navigate the process and come away feeling ready to get started?
“Keep in mind that your new employer is also grappling with orientation difficulties, so be patient and flexible,” advises Nancy Halverson, SVP Global Operations. “Depending on policies at your new company and the current public health situation, logistics might be confusing at first so you might want to reach out ahead of time to find out what the process will look like in your case. Contact your recruiter, your HR contact, or your new manager to find out how they’re handling the logistics of onboarding during WFH.”
You’ll probably receive an onboarding packet that provides you with a list of tools, links, and systems and directions on how to access them, internal/external contact information for any issues that may arise, colleague contact information, and an organizational chart. It’s also likely that your new boss will send out a communication to your team members announcing your hiring, but you can also reach out to your co-workers and personally introduce yourself.
Halverson’s additional recommendations include:
Understanding expectations. Your new job probably wasn’t intended to be remote, and since your manager and colleagues won’t be working in the same location, you can’t just drop by to ask a quick question or get clarification. “Take the initiative and make sure you fully understand your role and the tasks you’ve been assigned,” says Halverson. “Know when you’re expected to produce deliverables, for example, and how your boss wants to receive them. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information.”
Knowing what digital tools your team is using. “This is really important,” says Halverson. “Remote working depends heavily on the use of digital tools for communication, meetings and project management. Take your time navigating the company’s training documents and onboarding materials. Walk yourself through each new tool – especially the ones that involve workflow and communication.” Once you know the preferences of your boss and your colleagues, you should be able to quickly adapt to a digital platform that allows you to work effectively with your team and collaborate on projects.
Cultivating a work friend or mentor. “Remember that people who are working remotely miss the camaraderie and interaction they enjoyed in the office,” says Halverson. “Most would be happy to have a virtual one-on-one coffee chat with you, giving you a chance to build relationships and find helpful mentors.” You’ll learn about what they’re working on, and you’ll gain a better understanding of the organization and how it functions.
Tuning in to the culture. Every organization has its own culture, and typically you absorb it through everyday interactions that are a normal part of being in an office. You hear conversations, have discussions about what other people are working on, and you pick up on what activities are valued and what styles of work are appreciated. “Now you have to create those interactions digitally,” says Halverson. “From them you’ll be able to determine a great deal about the values of the company and its leaders.”
Starting a new job is always a challenge, never more so than now. However, if you are proactive in your efforts to acclimate, you’ll soon begin to feel more comfortable socially and to demonstrate your value more quickly.