As if starting a new job wasn’t daunting enough, you may now be faced with the challenge of starting the new job remotely – without ever meeting your co-workers in person. But hey – if you were hired during a global health crisis, you can be grateful.
If you’re new to working remotely, the prospect of a virtual first week and month can be terrifying. Your usual tricks to prove that you are an excellent employee do not apply here: Gone are the days of small talk in the office canteen and reading and interpreting the body language of your conversation partner. It can also be difficult to demonstrate your skills.
Still, there are some strategies you can use to show your worth in your new job, even if you start remotely.
In a face-to-face meeting, you can often get a clue about a corporate culture by observing how employees ask questions or how managers in a group seek feedback. Without the typical hints, you get in real life, and you’ll have to readjust your strategy to get a feel for your business’s less actual inner workings.
The word “culture” can be ambiguous. Culture is something that makes you productive and what makes you relate. If you can take advantage of the nuances of corporate culture, you can be more effective in everything you do there and make a good impression straight away. As you ponder the culture of the new business, you can try to find answers to the following questions:
- How do people share ideas here? Does your company promote an environment in which “no idea is a bad idea,” or do employees only share their ideas when they are mature and sure of success? Get an idea of how creativity is nurtured in your workplace, so you know when to present your brilliant thoughts in their best light.
- How do people ask questions here? Do your co-workers quickly ask for details after the manager gives a task? Or do the questions arise more in one-on-one conversations? It’s good to get a feel for how people look for information at work. Your company may foster an environment where questions are asked directly. On the other hand, executives may prefer employees to do their research before inquiring about a problem. Understanding best practices for asking questions in your company will help you manage your and everyone else’s time better. And if you adapt quickly to the company’s communication style, your thoughtfulness will shine through, rather than the fact that you are new and have a lot to learn.
Pay attention to the behavior of employees in conversations and zoom meetings so that you understand the etiquette of your new workplace and know how to behave. It will help you build trust and connections with people, even if you won’t meet them face-to-face for the first time. And you give your co-workers the comforting feeling that you belong on the team, or better yet, that they don’t know how they could ever do the job without you.
Put in the work to make interactions feel less transactional.
In the days before the pandemic, small talk in the office is possible in numerous environments: a colleague and you talk in the elevator over the weekend or reach for the same mug in the communal kitchen. However ordinary they may seem, we all need these face-to-face interactions to build trust with one another. This contributes to a greater sense of community and lays the foundation for a productive working relationship.
Small talk in the hallway on the way to the office is, of course, no longer possible. Communication now usually focuses on having your needs served by another person. With Zoom, everything is based on an exchange relationship between the supervisor and the employees. Trying to get ineffectively will require informal interactions that are not necessarily organized to achieve a specific goal.
Fighting these types of soulless transactions can be difficult, but it is possible. You can schedule video meetings with new colleagues who don’t have a specific schedule. While most meetings allow 30 to 60 minutes by default, you can schedule a short ten-minute conversation. If you keep it short in advance, you can take the pressure off a bit and have the opportunity to get to know other people.
If you speak one-on-one with a new colleague, you can finally assign a face and a voice to the name. It’s humanizing. Many interactions only take place through normal e-mail traffic. When you write a mail, the way, you say it is generally more direct. If you say something to someone personally, your tone of voice and facial expression always convey something. Because colleagues cannot hear your voice and know you less well, everything you say appears more direct and less friendly.
As a new remote employee, you have to humanize yourself towards your new colleagues. You want to make sure that you are recognized as someone whose inquiries are worth answering. When you develop a relationship, your co-workers will identify you as a person who shouldn’t be ignored. You are not a digital entity. This means you will spend less time asking long inquiries, and you can invest more in the actual work. This shows the whole team and your boss that you can build relationships and get things done quickly.
Respect the limits of your colleagues
As eager as you may be to get to know everyone on your team, you need to understand virtual space first. Some people may be receptive to an invitation to join a Zoom group for two, while others prefer to speak over the phone or send chat messages. This new way of working remotely challenges people to take the initiative to connect in a way they didn’t have to in the office. During these times, it is essential to nurture connections. While a peer-to-peer connection is critical to a company’s compelling performance, how people feel most connected is not consistent.
You don’t want that your enthusiasm for your new role is perceived as an annoyance rather than an advantage. While you will earn more time and guidance the first time you start a job, remember that most companies are still filtering out the problems that arise from working remotely. For some people, this process was exhausting: employees who have been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic are confronted with high burnout rates. You should therefore exercise caution if you want to take up the time and convenience of your co-workers.
Show that you are listening.
The comfort and trust you build ultimately solidify your value as a team member and make your colleagues grateful to have you on their side. Here’s another tip that can help you get there.
You can make conversation good and chatty by referring to something your co-worker shared during a meeting. Something like “I was so excited about the idea you mentioned today, I’d love to hear how you came up with it” is better received than a standard, “Hello, how are you?” The former is more likely to lead your colleague to get involved in a conversation and believe that you are well involved in the work. When you get interested in your co-worker’s work, you show your human side and allow your co-workers to do the same.
Don’t try this step on everyone right away, especially if you don’t mean what you’re saying. You should make sure that you are authentic in your interactions. Authenticity can feel wide-ranging, but think about what is important to you and connect with people through those values. The trust will come.