The last time you began a new job, you arrived at the building early, shook your manager’s hand, sat through a half-day orientation under the watchful eye of an HR clerk, and cleaned out the debris your predecessor left at your new workstation. Before you finished your first day, you’d met a dozen co-workers. Several welcomed you aboard.
Monday you start your new job — remote. How do you set yourself up for success?
Get a running start
If you haven’t already, scour your new employer’s website and social media page.
If you lack expertise in any software programs or interaction tools you’ll use, locate online tutorials.
Set up your workspace for optimal productivity.
If you’re coming from a period of un- or underemployment, or you’ve grown overly casual as your interest in your now former job waned, you may need to set boundaries with family, friends or your own self. While remote work offers you flexibility, too much slack can douse your new job success.
In-depth with your manager
When working remotely, it’s important to be proactive and take initiative. Because your manager influences your future, invest time and effort in developing a solid relationship.
Clarify your manager’s expectations and learn how you can most effectively work with and for him/her. Ask:
How would you prefer me to communicate with you?
Would you prefer me to text you questions as they come up or send you a “When’s a good time to connect?” email when I have several saved up?
What are my priorities?
What do you want me to accomplish in my first week and month?
Ask for regular meetings. During these meetings, ask “Is there anything you want me to stop or start doing? What am I doing that you want me to continue?” Keep your manager updated on the work you’re doing and progress you’re making.
Let your new manager know you’re prepared to work hard. Ask what tools and processes you need to learn. Ask for reports to read and short courses and webinars to take.
Ask if there are one or two individuals in addition to your manager for you to connect with so you won’t wear out your welcome with too many questions.
Find ways to connect
Connect with each of your teammates and ask four or five key questions. You need to know what’s the best time of day and way to communicate with them, whether email, phone or video chat.
Be aware that while you need them, some may see you as an interruption. Let them know you’re interested in and willing to help them when you can. During these conversations, be careful with statements that might be misinterpreted. Because you can’t read the emotional cues you’d pick up on in a face-to-face interaction, it can be easy to create offense. Thank them for spending time with you.
Realize it’s a new ecosystem
Even and especially if you feel like a stranger in a strange land, invest time and effort into getting a feel for your employer’s culture and team or department’s dynamics.
Learn who to go to for what and what resources you can access. Absorb your employer’s onboard materials and training documents.
Create your own cheat sheet with lists of co-worker and stakeholder names, and their areas of interests or responsibilities.
Finally, celebrate. May this be your best job ever.