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Prepare Yourself for a Remote Job in 5 Steps

A person working from home, surrounded by documents, coffee and their cat

We are in uncharted territory, more people are working remotely now than at any other time in human history. The last time we saw a pandemic, technology could not accommodate these precautions but now the digital age is in full swing, many companies are choosing to change to remote work, maybe forever.

This change was already on the horizon. Back in  2013 studies were already showing greater productivity from remote workers. And now, companies like Fujitsu and Twitter have announced plans to continue with remote work even after the pandemic is under control . 

But where does that leave workers? It’s hard enough starting a job, without another level of complication. Many of us depend on in-person contact to answer our initial questions and guide us through our first steps with a new company. 

With new tasks, culture, tools, and team members to get to know, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But it doesn’t have to be a bad experience. With these five easy steps, you’ll feel prepared for your first day. So you can focus on the excitement of a new job.

  1. Do your homework

Inquire with your hiring manager if there is any material you can read to prepare for your first day. Once you have a list of relevant tools you can familiarise yourself with them via online tutorials. This will leave you more time to get to know your team’s culture and demonstrate consideration and competency to your supervisor. Not to mention you won’t miss any important communications because you didn’t know where to look.

Here are some specific questions: What applications does the team use for...

  • Communication? (Slack, outlook, Gchat)
  • Time management? (Asana, HelloMonday, Jira)
  • Task execution (Google Drive, Word, CMS, or ATS)

  1. Set up your space

Along with the questions in the previous step, you’ll want to enquire about the necessary equipment. Don’t assume that it will be exactly the same set up as your last job. You won’t want to show up for the first day lacking a key piece to the puzzle.

Once you have all the equipment, set up your workspace. Try to find a quiet space with natural light. Make sure there’s nothing messy or private in the background and talk with the other people in your house to let them know your working hours. If you know you have big meetings every Monday morning, perhaps this is a time your housemates or family can be out of the way and quiet.

Pro tip: Consider investing in a comfy chair, it’s well worth not having back troubles down the road!

  1. Get in the (Communication) Rhythm

If you followed step one, then you already know what tools your team uses to communicate. Maybe there are even multiple tools. But one communication topic that is often overlooked or assumed is the expectations in regards to cadence and tone. These things become so second nature to the people in the company that they don’t think to bring it up to newcomers.

Understanding this unique flow is key to communicating successfully. Some teams like to document task completion in a public channel while other teams only want notifications about problems or blocks. Your onboarding supervisor can help prepare you for the preference of your team.

Here are some specific questions: Where and how does your team…

  • Provide feedback or criticisms: Should this be done privately or publicly?  Should the supervisor be looped in?
  • Give kudos: Is there a place or time to congratulate team members on a  job well-done?
  • Ask for help: Should you contact your supervisor first or perhaps go to a public channel to crowdsource solutions?
  • Provide updates: This will tie into what organizational/time management tools your team uses.

  1. Make a splash

We don’t mean wearing a silly hat or posting the best GIF on Slack, it’s more about replicating those small in-person interactions you would get working in-office while grabbing a cup of coffee or passing the hallway. These seemingly innocuous chats are extremely important to ingraining yourself into the company culture. 

Harvard Business Review points out “culture is often made up of unspoken goals and norms and is often wrapped up in a unique language that members of your new team have already learned to speak with ease.” To learn this language faster, imitate these spontaneous chats by keeping the meetings short: think 10 or 15 minutes. 

Be sure to ask your team members what they are working on even if it doesn’t relate to your current tasks, it may further down the line. Remember, with so many people working remotely a little conversation will often be welcome. Your meeting request doesn’t have to be urgent, a simple “hi, I was hoping to chat to get a better feel for what my team members are working on” is an acceptable opener.

  1. Find mentors

Sometimes we get lost in the day-to-day grind, but it’s important to take the long view of your career from time to time. Part of that exercise is identifying mentors along the way who can guide you through the different stages of your work life. 

Once you are settled and through the onboarding phase, and maybe even during, you’ll want to look around for those people in your company. Likely they will not be directly on your team so be sure to take advantage of larger meetings, in-house networking events, and extracurricular activities that your workplace offers to find people who could fill this role for you.

At the end of the day...

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. For many supervisors, onboarding remotely will be a new experience as well. Consider keeping a work diary to keep track of success and roadblocks. This will help your team welcome new members down the line.

  1. P1 - Prep before day 1 - what research can you do before your first day, is there reading you can do before, anyone in the business you can speak to, etc. Be patient with yourself and know this isn’t what everyone is used to...
  2. P2 - Don’t be afraid to ask questions - ask every question you have, knowing that this is new for everyone so there are no expectations of how this should or shouldn’t work. Make sure you have the information you need. 
  3. P3 - Communication & Cadence - work out how your team and org communicate best. Intro yourself and start building relationships. 
  4. Conclusion - 
  5. Links -

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