Joining any new place of work is a daunting process, but throw starting remotely into the mix, and things can seem even worse. Naturally, you will want to fit in, not just with the new role but with the people and social interactions of the new workplace. Fitting in with a new workplace when you are a remote worker is clearly not the same as being on site, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad experience.
Some of you are probably reading this and wondering why is this so difficult? Isn’t it just the same as starting any new job role? In some ways, yes, it is. You are going to be the ‘newbie’ for a while with all the baggage that brings. We are all different, and for some, starting remotely will be more difficult than for others. I think we can all agree, though, that whether you slip easily into new situations or you find it a struggle, a remote start is going to require a different approach.
So how can I fit in when starting remotely?
Starting remotely is essentially the same as starting any new job. The biggest difference, to state the obvious, is that you are not there in person, you are a face on a screen. That said, with most companies opting to use Zoom or Teams, you can at least start to put faces to names. People will still know what you look like, how you act and how you sound. Resist the temptation to play to the camera. You won’t be able to keep it up, and even over video links, people recognise when you are not being genuine. So, tip number one is to be yourself. The team knows you are new; they want to get to know you, so be the ‘you’ they will see every day.
It’s important to recognise the differences in the way interactions with others happen remotely. Without the opportunity for casual interaction, it is going to be more difficult to build relationships. A guide to the culture of your new workplace would be a great help. Fortunately, people are usually happy to help newcomers fit in and find their feet. Trust your instincts and look for someone you automatically seem to connect with and then work on building a relationship with them. Working on building this one strong relationship will help you understand the workplace better, and they will then be able to advise you on how the company works. It is sort of the online equivalent of someone taking the time to show you where the teabags are kept. Let someone guide you and show the ropes.
Don’t sit on problems, and discuss any concerns. There will certainly be some form of induction with an HR representative or your management team. This is a good time to start a dialogue about your concerns, so take this opportunity to ask about the process of working from home. Making your transition easy is probably quite high on their agenda as well, so they will be willing to help.
One of the dangers of video platforms like Zoom or Teams is that they make it super easy to sit back and watch the meeting progress rather than get involved. Easy, yes, a good idea, no. If you want to fit in, don’t just sit back. Voice your opinions, show you are keen to be in your role and offer your thoughts. Join in with discussions and allow your voice to be heard. People will appreciate this because we all want to think our work colleagues are pulling their weight and keen to work.
So, what should you take from this article?
Essentially to fit in remotely, you don’t need to do anything new – you just may need to do it differently. Buddy up with someone who will help you learn the ropes. Recognise that you may need to work a little harder to form bonds. Raise concerns during your hiring process. Most importantly, don’t forget to ask questions and get involved.
At the end of the day everyone is in the same boat, so ensure you can be heard and be yourself, after all that is who they hired.