Starting a new role is stressful, but doing so entirely virtually presents unique difficulties. Amy Landry shares her experience onboarding remotely and offers guidance for overcoming those challenges.
“A new job is not a new beginning. It is a path to create a new ending.”
One of the greatest feelings in life is getting the call from HR letting you know you’re hired. You probably experience a range of emotions (joy, excitement, relief, nervousness, etc.), get off the call (maybe still smiling) and start sharing the good news.
You stop short as a thought pops into your head: What is it going to be like joining a new organization virtually? Further uncertainties may crop up, too: How will I be able to connect with my new colleagues? How can I show my value? What will I need to work on first?
From my recent experience, onboarding virtually was very similar to onboarding in person. Assuming my experience was the norm, you can also expect to receive a welcome email from HR asking you to complete new hire paperwork, laying out what to expect on your first day and communicating that you’re scheduled to attend a few onboarding sessions and that the company looks forward to seeing you Monday morning.
That all seems normal, but of course your first day will not be in a physical office; it will be in your house. A few days before your first day, you may receive a box with your mobile phone, laptop and docking station – everything you need to set up your home office. You eagerly set up everything, so you’ll be ready to go.
On the morning of your first day, you open your laptop and go through the instructions sent to you from IT. You’re cautiously optimistic that everything will work the first time, but just in case, you log in 30 minutes before your start time. Ah… success, for the most part. Time to make a quick call to IT.
You may not think about it, but this is your first chance to make an impression on someone in your new organization. How do you want them to remember you?
Hot tip #1: Remember, negative first impressions take a while to correct, so be patient, courteous and intentional about building trust.
The issue is not fully fixed, but you and IT devise a workaround. Now, to join in all your first day onboarding meetings.
Your first day is in the books. At this point, the rest of your week is planned out: new hire training to complete, meeting with your manager to go over your 30-60-90-day plan, confirming you can access everything and your first department all-hands meeting.
If your manager has not already put a 30-60-90-day plan together, ask them if the two of you can create one. This is your roadmap on what your new organization expects from you, so why proceed without it? Not only will this give you direction on what to do, but it can also help you capture your initial accomplishments.
Hot tip #2: Be sure to write down all you accomplish, as this will save you when your performance review comes around.
As you move into your second week, all IT issues are resolved and you start meeting many of your colleagues. Again, here’s another chance to make an impression; start building relationships and adding value to your new organization. A tricky part about onboarding remotely is that you cannot swing by a colleague’s desk to chat or go out to lunch to build rapport. You have to do this using your laptop. That said…
Hot tip #3: Be sure you are present each and every day.
You’re probably wondering how. First, set up introduction meetings to introduce yourself, share backgrounds and discuss how you will work together. After that, continue to connect, whether it’s sharing a picture of the snow coming down outside your window via a Teams message, sending an email about an interesting blog or webinar you saw that you think your team might find interesting, reading and engaging with internal posts or scheduling a virtual coffee chat or a meeting to go over a project you’re working on.
A new job can be nerve-wracking, but it is also a clean slate, an opportunity to make your mark.