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Starting a new job is hard enough. Here’s how to do it when you’re remote

<i>CNN/Adobe Stock</i><br/>Preparation is key to starting a new job on the right foot.
CNN/Adobe Stock
Preparation is key to starting a new job on the right foot.

By Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business

Starting a new job is nerve-wracking: You’re trying to remember everyone’s names and roles, and learn the culture, all the while trying to put your best foot forward.

And for new hires who are joining a company remotely during the pandemic, the onboarding process can be even more difficult.

Here’s how to make a great first impression:

Prepare ahead of your first day

Preparation is key to starting a new job on the right foot.

“Get your office in order. Get everything you need that you can set up to where and how you are going to work: your desk, get a ring light if you feel you need it … get your space ready so that when you start work you are ready to go,” said Andrew McCaskill, LinkedIn career expert.

He also suggested reviewing the company’s website, blog posts or social media pages to help become more familiar with the company and your new colleagues.

“Start to look around to see what you can learn about the organization … get into the company news to figure out what’s going on at work before you get to work,” McCaskill said.

Ask for a buddy

Working remotely means you no longer have a seat mate that can help you learn how access your project files or fill you in on office norms.

To help answer any mundane questions that pop up as your learn the ropes, ask your boss to assign you a buddy.

“Ask your manager: ‘Is there someone on the team that you can go to for small questions to help figure out how things work here?'” said Renata Dionello, chief people officer at ZipRecruiter. “That way, that person knows up front you might be asking them questions and make you more comfortable to ask questions and them more responsive when you come to them.”

Build your network

Without coffee breaks, lunch dates and hallway run-ins, establishing a rapport with your new colleagues takes more effort when working remotely.

Ask your manager for recommendations of colleagues you should meet and also pay attention to names of people who are regularly in your meetings or included on team emails.

Once you have a list, start setting up introductory meetings.

Dionello suggested requesting 30-minute meetings with co-workers who you will be working with directly on a regular basis, and ask questions about their role, current projects and work preferences.

She also suggested setting up 15-minute intro meetings with people who aren’t direct reports or on your team, but are included in emails, show up in meetings or are referenced occasionally.

These meetings shouldn’t be entirely work focused. Ask questions that will help you get to know your teammates, but don’t get too personal right away. Questions like: ‘How long have you been at the company?’ ‘How did you get into this industry?’ and ‘How was your summer?’ can help break the ice.

“Networking is a two-way street: if you need help ask for help, but also offer help,” said McCaskill. “Share some of your own personal insights about you and your life and that makes it a little easier for other folks to do the same. Accept what people offer up initially, and make it very natural.”

Scour the intranet

Some companies offer internal websites to employees that can be a treasure trove of information regarding resources, handbooks, benefits and announcements.

“Making use of the tools the company has is really important,” said Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at job website Indeed.

Employee resource groups, such as those established for women, parents, people of color, or LGBTQ employees, can also be a good way to make connections, noted McCaskill.

“If there is an opportunity where there is already a group or community built into your organization, getting involved and getting access to that community will help grease the wheels of you getting to know more people faster,” said McCaskill.

Learn your manager’s style

Some managers want frequent progress updates, while others are a little more hands off. Learning how your manager prefers to communicate — whether it’s emails, instant messaging, weekly meetings or shared documents — and how often, is important to your success.

“Ask them how do they like to work best and share with them what works best for you,” said McCaskill.

Get feedback regularly

Set up frequent one-on-one meetings with your manager during your first few weeks on the job that are feedback-focused, suggested Dionello.

“It’s fine to say to the manager…’For the first two months, I would really love frequent feedback on whether I am focusing on the right things, am I approaching things the right way, is my style fitting with the style of the team and company?’ You can have that conversation up front,” Dionello said.

The “stop, start and continue” framework can help get the conversation going, said Wolfe. That means asking your manager: Is there anything you should stop doing, what should you start doing and what should you continue to do?

Be patient

Onboarding can be difficult in a remote setting, so try and give yourself a little breathing room.

“You have to pace yourself and be patient,” said Wolfe. “You aren’t going to come out of the gate and fix everything right away. Come up with a plan with your leaders about how you prioritize things.”

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