Starting a new job can be exciting and nerve-wracking: There's endless names, faces, policies and processes you need to absorb, all while trying to make a strong first impression.
Meeting your co-workers and figuring out office politics is even more challenging in a remote environment where it's just you and your computer screen. According to new research from TINYpulse, employees hired during the coronavirus pandemic tend to form weaker bonds with their colleagues and engage less with their organization's mission and values.
Millions of Americans have found themselves in this position in recent months as the pandemic stretches into its third year and companies once again delay their return-to-office plans or decide to go permanently remote.
For those who have recently started a new job remotely or are gearing up for their first day online, CNBC Make It spoke with FlexJobs career coach Toni Frana on how you can put your best foot forward.
Building relationships with your colleagues takes more effort when you're not running into them at the water cooler – but they can answer questions about your new role and help you better understand how it fits into the business.
Ask your manager and direct teammates who you should connect with in the first week and month of your job, then reach out to those people for a virtual coffee chat. Tell them a little about yourself and consider asking these questions:
- What's something you wish you knew when you first started at the company?
- Can you tell me more about your role?
- How can I support you in my new position?
"Establish open lines of proactive communication with your team, co-workers and supervisors so you feel more connected in your new job, and can stay in the loop on future projects or opportunities to collaborate," Frana says.
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are also great for networking and meeting people who work in different departments. Reach out to Human Resources to see if such groups are available and ways to get involved.
Before you can impress your boss with your enthusiasm and fast learning skills, you'll need a clean, distraction-free workplace.
This doesn't need to be an office or a traditional desk either – it can be the same spot at your kitchen counter or coffee table as long as there's strong internet connection and minimal background noise. Having a dedicated work space will help you get in a productive, focused mindset, Frana explains.
If you already have a work setup, add a new plant or piece of art to celebrate your new role, or move your desk closer to a window. Several studies have shown that sitting near a window with natural light boosts productivity and reduces drowsiness.
Frana also recommends "taking an inventory" during your first day to check that you have everything you need to be an effective, productive worker, whether it be a planner, headset or other technology accessories. Make sure you ask your manager if the organization offers a work-from-home stipend or would reimburse you for office supplies as well.
Communication can be more challenging in a remote environment, so it's important to be transparent and check in with your manager often on expectations for your role and what you're working on.
Frana recommends drafting a 30/60/90 day action plan outlining the main goals you want to accomplish and small, actionable steps that will help you achieve them. Then set up a weekly check-in with your manager to talk through your progress and ask for feedback. "This shows initiative and that you're building on the role you were hired for," she says.
Having a plan will provide you with a clear guide for your first few months on the job – and with a solid foundation, Frana says you should feel "confident and successful while working from home and an integral part of the team."