From dealing with virtual meetings to setting boundaries, here’s how you can make a new remote job work for you
Starting a new job can be stressful, and doing so when it’s a remote role can bring added challenges. Many more jobs are now either fully remote or hybrid, meaning a fair chunk of us are working from home at least part of the time.
Of course, remote working can bring lots of benefits – many love ditching the commute, and having the freedom to choose roles where we aren’t wedded to a geographical location. But the lack of water cooler chats and office community can be hard, especially when you’re new.
Here, we look at what you can do to settle into a new role while working from home.
1. Get to know your colleagues
Not sitting beside your colleagues can feel like a barrier when starting a new job, but there are still ways to connect remotely.
“Attend any online training or other meetings that your team holds, even if they are optional,” says coach Anita Gohil-Thorp. “This will not only help you to get to know others, but it will also help you build trust and your own reputation. Contribute, and let the team get to know you.”
You may well find you click with certain colleagues. Ask about meeting up, whether at a Zoom chat or in-person coffee where you can. Take up the offer of any social events or in-person sessions too to help make connections.
2. Communicate with confidence
“Eye contact is still relevant,” says confidence coach Gemma Holmes. “I always encourage my clients to talk into their webcam as if the camera is the eyes of their audience. This will appear to your colleagues as if you’re talking straight to them and can help with building a connection and instilling a sense of confidence.” That said, it’s best not to stare down the lens constantly, as this can feel uncomfortable or unnatural.
To boost your confidence outside of meetings, Anita suggests using affirmations such as “I am competent in my new role,” “I excel at this task,” and “I choose to move outside my comfort zone for career growth.”
3. Understand your role
One of the challenges of starting a new job is learning exactly what your day-to-day will look like.
“To be clear about your role and responsibilities, talk to your line manager regularly so they are aware of your capacity and whether you’re fulfilling tasks that support the development you want in relation to the job you applied for,” says Anita. Asking what your priorities should be can help you both get on the same page.
Look back through the job description for your role to understand what’s expected of you. Anita emphasises the importance of boundaries to ensure you don’t work longer hours or beyond your job description too often.
4. Understand your workplace
Working remotely can mean it takes a little longer to understand your workplace and how people like to communicate. See if your organisation provides things like diagrams that show the team’s structure.
“You can initiate, and maintain, conversations with current team members and your line manager,” suggests Anita. “Express that you are keen to integrate seamlessly, and that understanding how they like to work will help not just you but them, too. For example, you will be less likely to interrupt them if they keep 12–2pm as a time to go through emails, or if they are working in a time zone that means they are six hours ahead of yours.”
5. Show your engagement
“If you feel able to, keep your camera on during meetings,” advises Gemma. “If you turn your camera off, even if it’s a meeting you’re not required to do much talking in, it can come across as disinterested,” she says. “Keep your camera on and remain focused on the content. You’re far more likely to pick up on opportunities to engage with the conversation and add value.”
She also suggests being mindful of your posture – not just for the sake of your spine. Having an open posture can increase your sense of confidence, and shows you’re interested and engaged.
6. Look after your wellbeing
Looking after yourself is essential in any role. “If you are feeling the workload is too much, consider practising how you will talk about this with your line manager,” advises Anita. “If you are feeling demotivated, reflect on what it is that is missing for you in the role.”
If you have a mental health condition or other health concern, consider letting your line manager know, so that reasonable adjustments can be put in place, or so you can access things like counselling through occupational health.
Introducing simple techniques like going for a lunchtime walk, listening to music, and making time to meet with friends after work can all help, too. And if you’re in a better mindset overall, you’ll be in the best position to settle into your new venture.