What it's like starting a new job remotely, and tips for remote starters
I've put together my experience on what it's like walking (virtually) into a new job and some of the highlights and challenges I faced.
I definitely feel part of the team. Remote working hasn't stopped me from getting my teeth into my day to day work, and I am making some great new friendships and forging good relationships.
Melissa Waters, Head of Client Services
I started my new job at Fresh Egg on 5th Jan 2021 – in the middle of a global pandemic! (take a look at my starter interview).
It's been a little strange remotely stepping into a job role that's all about forming in-person relationships with teams, departments and clients – how would it work from behind a permanent screen? But if there's one thing I learnt, we humans are good at adapting to our surroundings.
Overall it's gone well, but there have been a few bumps along the way - from learning how to use PC (after over 20 years on MACs) or setting up Teams (I'd only used Teams for social occasions thanks to COVID and always accompanied with a glass of wine). I'd find myself running out of time on calls as the water cooler moments were happening at the start of a call, and then a glance at the watch, and you're 20 mins into a 45 min call. Then, the endless knocks at the door as you take your neighbours packages (as well as my own),
I've lost count of the times I've said, "Oh sorry, hang on, there's someone at the door." Probably the biggest challenge has been not having someone next to me that I can easily ask, "how do you…?", "Can you show me where I can find…?" "What is the process for…?". I felt like I was scheduling calls with people to ask them how to schedule a call!
Home working is ok, but I miss the office environment.
It's the simple things I miss that I haven't even experienced here at Fresh Egg in this new role. Those little chats in the kitchen while you wait for the kettle to boil, grabbing a coffee with a colleague, going for lunch, going to the pub, running to M&S with someone while snatching a quick 10-minute chat. Having some naughty biscuits with a cuppa during a face to face meeting isn't the same while sitting alone in a pokey home office.
It's the detail that's missing.
There are so many little details that I haven't experienced – how long is my commute, where will my desk be, who will I sit next to, what is the building like, how do I enter the building (in regular times, we'd generally know all of this after day one). And I only know what my colleagues look like on camera.
But in this 'new normal' world, it has been ok - I feel part of the team, I'm almost part of the furniture. Remote working hasn't stopped me from getting my teeth into my day to day work, and I am making some great new friendships and forging good relationships.
I wonder if seeing people in their homes and natural surroundings immediately makes us feel more relaxed, more friendly? It feels like you almost know someone already. That a knock on the door almost enforces an informality that can be endearing. I've seen colleagues and client's cats, dogs, kids, plants, family, friends. It's an insight that many of us would not usually be privy to, and it's been quite heartwarming. It has made me realise that work is something we do, not where we go.
So overall, my experience was not as daunting as I thought it would be. Just in case, I have some tips for anyone for starting a new job remotely:
My top tips for starting a new job remotely
Get a buddy
- If not assigned a buddy (I had one when I started at Fresh Egg), identify someone who could be your buddy – someone who can help with all the trivial admin requests that are important, but you may feel embarrassed to ask.
Get to know people
- Get context for all the people in the business. For each introduction, I prepared by researching my colleagues' role and how we would be working together in the future.
Ask for help
- Don't be afraid to ask for help – a friendly company like Fresh Egg will be welcoming and open to helping you, and asking lots of questions helped. It's the one time you can plead ignorance!
Soak up the inductions
- Have as many inductions with as many people as you can – these inductions were one of my favourites parts of the Fresh Egg introduction as I got to know people individually.
Get to know your team as a priority
- Professionally and personally – understanding their set-up with family, friends etc., is just as important as the working life – it's slightly harder remotely, but it's possible.
Don't be hard on yourself
- Lastly, when feeling a little isolated or disconnected (which will happen), be kind to yourself. I gave (probably still do) myself a hard time for not 'knowing' more or getting to things quicker when I first started, but it's challenging starting a job remotely, so give yourself a break.