remote work

5 Things to Know When Starting a Remote Job

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Fall. A new season. The passing of time. 

The leaves change hue into gorgeous warm tones as they hold onto their branches for dear life (in most parts of the country) and the crisp autumn air caresses our pink-tinged cheeks. The feeling of newness–of untapped potential and great new beginnings–comes with the fall weather, with feelings of nostalgia from new years at school playing through most peoples’ minds. 

While January and February are often the most popular months for hiring, October and early November are also popular. This is truly the last haul for new hires in a calendar year for most companies. This allows them to get around doing extra paperwork and navigating confusing schedules as the holidays approach, a time of year when the budget often takes a hit either way.

This season of change has us thinking a lot about onboarding with new companies, and how finding oneself in a new work environment can greatly impact a career person’s productivity and trajectory. For those who are approaching new work in a remote setting, there are many things to remember that may not be so obvious in an at-home or alternate workspace. 

Without conventional onboarding, you may not find your footing the same way as with an in-person or hybrid working experience. Here are some things to know and questions to ask when starting a new remote job. 

1. Inquire About Your Colleagues’ Preferred Communication Methods

No matter what work climate you find yourself in, it is imperative to find out the communication preferences of your immediate coworkers and management. This way, you know how they like to receive communication: via email, direct message, text, phone call, in-person, or otherwise. This leads to less stress around how to approach collaborations and allows your messaging to be received well. Asking for this information as an onboarding new hire demonstrates that you care about your coworkers’ boundaries and that you are set on remaining as efficient and productive as possible.

2. Small Talk Isn’t Necessary, But It Can Help

You work remotely now. Congratulations! You can be free of mindless small talk now that there is no “watering hole” to gather around or lunch break to bond over. While it’s certainly not necessary, if you are working on a team of any sort, you may actually find that small talk is helpful. 

While no one is asking you to divulge every detail of your personal life, asking coworkers how they are or what their weekend plans are can help a remote worker get into “work mode” versus “at home” mode. This type of communication can help trigger the idea that work has started, and put you in a mindset you may have otherwise been missing. 

Another great benefit to small talk is that it allows you to get to know your coworkers a little bit better. Because you are in a remote environment, you may not be familiar with their daily idiosyncrasies, or have the opportunity to ask them how they are with each audible, heavy sigh. Missing that daily interaction entirely can completely change the way you communicate with people, and can often lead to social anxiety in future in-person situations. Plus, chit chatting can help to reduce any stress you may have around a new remote position. 

When all else fails, have a gif war in your chosen project management system’s private messages. (Just make sure you understand everyone’s brand of humor before getting too weird.)

3. Understand Expected Turnaround Time

Because you are working remotely, it can be more difficult for management to keep an eye on your progress. Luckily, many project management systems have due date options that you can assign to any given task. However, many different positions can require average turnaround expectations, even if there is no given due date. Often, you may have to prioritize new tasks over longer-term work. 

For example, if your manager prefers a response within 2 hours to let them know you have seen their email and when you can have a new project submitted, then that is something you will want to know. If you are a writer, you may want to find out if your team prefers a 24 versus 48-hour window for completion of copy or progressed edits. 

So what can you do to facilitate communication about deadlines and working styles? Manager service programs are designed to help managers communicate their expectations and preferences clearly to their team members. And if you are in need of a good manager, MSP staffing services provide reliable and efficient staffing solutions for businesses of all sizes.

The good news? In inquiring about turnaround processes, managers and colleagues will see that you are starting your job off on the right foot and that you are engaged with the work and mindful of deadlines

4. Keep A Detailed Calendar

Whether you swear by binder planners, wall calendars, or digital schedules, be sure to have a system set up specifically for your workload. Where an in-person working scenario could help you keep your head in the game and your eyes on deadlines, not having people to remind you of meetings, due dates, and other work necessities can be super detrimental. 

To be able to get–and keep–remote work is to be able to handle your own calendar. You have to take full responsibility for yourself, especially early in the game. If appointments are not your forte, maybe you can figure out a system or series of reminders to set with other coworkers. And most remote companies will have an internal calendar shared out to the team. But for now, at the beginning? Help yourself by keeping everything in a space you have regular access to.  

5. There Will Be a Learning Curve

As is the case when onboarding with any new job, remind yourself often that there is a learning curve. Sure, you may have been a straight-A student. Or you may have been an A+ player at your old company or in a previous position. Even if you are entering a similar position at a different company, or you aren’t taking on an entirely different role, there will be new things to learn. 

Allow yourself the grace and space to ask questions and thoroughly educate yourself on everything that pertains to your position. Hopefully, the onboarding process is clear and takes you through every step of your job. However, different software could take a minute to get used to. New or updated work policies and processes could take a while to understand. 

You’re new. It’s OK. Just be sure to take copious notes where necessary, and ask the questions now. Your coworkers will be a lot more willing to help you out or educate you as a new hire than they will if you’re asking the same questions repeatedly down the line. 

Reduce your chances of experiencing remote work anxiety by setting yourself up for success early and often. Schedule check-ins with yourself to evaluate your work environment, and allow yourself the freedom to switch it up every once in a while. 

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