My studies, research and work have taken me to fifty countries, six of which I called home for some period of time and I had not only worked remotely before but also had the privilege to onboard a global team of volunteer staff fully online. These experiences prepared me to have a relatively stress free, smooth start at Insitu from afar. So I wanted to share three steps that you can take to help you get settled and comfortable in a new remote role quickly.
#1 Coffee chats
Reaching out to colleagues to get to know them shows that you are determined to co-build a great team. In my first week, I made it a priority to have a half-hour casual conversation with everyone, which was not only enjoyable but perhaps put us all more at ease as we started to work on projects together.
While Zoom calls can be exhausting, scheduling a half-hour video chat gives you more control over your interactions and allows you to speak from somewhere where you feel comfortable, reducing the barriers to getting a one-on-one with each of your colleagues early on. I found that my co-workers were all happy that I reached out and I often got to call them from my favourite coffee shop in the castle of my hometown, Győr.
#2 Soliciting feedback
Being in charge of knowing how you’re doing will help you find your feet quickly and will reduce any anxiety you may be experiencing as you start a new role. Without being in the same office as my colleagues and being able to pick up on indirect cues on my performance, I knew I had to be proactive about finding out how well I was meeting expectations. So I made it a habit to ask for specific feedback. Note the difference between asking ‘How am I doing?’ versus ‘Do you think this interaction will be easy to understand for learners?’. By asking for feedback on specific aspects of your work, the conversation becomes more focused on a given aspect of a deliverable and less focused on you. This approach makes both soliciting and giving feedback less scary, while also showing that you think critically about your work. Thus, asking such questions often not only helped me settle in quicker but also communicated that I am committed to doing a great job.
#3 Making my mental health a priority
Many of us lost some form of control over our lives this year, which is scary and frustrating and if you’re used to doing it all and making things happen, 2020 may have dealt quite a blow to your self-esteem. Allowing time to check in with yourself, to reevaluate your goals and come up with a plan to adapt to this new world emotionally and professionally is crucial. So I took that long walk by the river, got that coffee with my best friend, picked up that hobby I had always wanted to and really made it my mission to be kind to myself. This not only helped me with my mental health but also set the foundation for a much more productive start in my new role.
While I was lucky enough to have a background that made this transition as smooth as it could be, for many people remote work is radically different from what they were used to before the pandemic. If you have any other tips that would be worth adding to the list, leave a comment below – I’m sure many new hires would appreciate ideas on what they can do for a smooth remote onboarding experience.
Written by Eszter Mészáros, Learning Designer