Five Tips for Starting a New Job Remotely in a Pandemic
Starting a new job can be daunting at the best of times and starting a job during a pandemic is even more so.
I had no idea what to expect with starting a new graduate job and the challenges working from home may bring. The experience, as expected, has been different from normal circumstances in an office setting. Being at home with my laptop, however, is a familiar feeling. Similar to how I spent my last 4 years of university. Carrying out university assessments from home, specifically during lockdown when I was writing my dissertation, helped me feel motivated and relaxed. So, on the first days of my new job Doqaru, I felt confident. I knew on a professional level that I could work well and I’d rather enjoyed working remotely over the years.
Working from home meant that I didn’t have to worry too much about what I wore, preparing lunch or dealing with a busy, long commute. It allowed me to be more focused on what’s important – getting the job done.
By a stroke of luck, my dad and sister started a lockdown project of turning a storage cupboard into a home office so I got a shiny new workspace just in time for my new role! In this blog, I’ll share my experience of starting a new job remotely during the lockdown and some tips for anyone in a similar position.
My Virtual Onboarding and a Lucky Face-to-face Meeting
The first challenge was to prepare for a different type of onboarding. It was refreshing to see my new colleagues over video calls in their own homes, as it took some of the formality out of the situation. It gave me more time to adjust because I didn’t have the added pressures of normal office life.
I learned a bit more about my role, the expectations from it and the office dynamics between my colleagues. Fortunately, I met the team on day two of starting the role as it was the annual strategy day. It was an amazing opportunity to meet everyone face to face. I got a great feel for the culture and motivation within the team. I saw and felt how positive they were even though I knew that things must be so different for them too, due to the pandemic.
How I’ve Managed Working in a New Environment
There are some downsides to working for home. For instance, it’s difficult not moving around during the workday. I worked in retail for six years and became used to being on my feet for hours at a time. So, I’ve had to get used to being in my house all day, sitting still, working from my laptop and not getting fresh air. Since starting at Doqaru, I have started walking every evening after work to stretch my legs. This helps me keep active.
I go into the Doqaru office in Aberdeen once a week, which is a positive and friendly atmosphere. I’m grateful to be able to do this during the pandemic. I am an extrovert, so, physically being able to meet new people during times like these is exciting.
As I live in Dundee, my local restrictions have put a stop to me commuting to the Aberdeen office, for the moment, unfortunately. I’m looking forward to getting into it when the restrictions are lifted.
We have a weekly Thursday meeting where we all share what we’ve been working on. To ensure that I’m working effectively, I keep track of my weekly progress and report to the team. It’s a great way to communicate with the team about what I am enjoying and where I might need some support.
Five Tips that I’ve Learned so far While Working Remotely
1. Try to have ‘normal’ conversations
At Doqaru, we have a virtual afternoon tea break, which I really appreciate. We take 30 minutes out of each day to have a catch-up. The chat is non-work related and helps us to take a break from the workday. The tea breaks have given me a chance to get to know the team and feel involved straight away. I strongly recommend this for any team that is working from home. Some of my friends and family members are jealous that I have the chance to connect with the team in this way. It’s a great way to check in on everyone when they are stuck inside the house with lockdown restrictions changing daily. It means a lot that we can support each other’s mental health, particularly, right now.
2. Everyone will be supportive
The team at Doqaru were so welcoming and always asked if I needed help. I know they would be like this normally, but working from home, it meant a lot that I could feel comfortable contacting them if needed. It’s very reassuring knowing your team will be supportive when you start a new role remotely.
3. Expect to face technology challenges
Be prepared to get kicked out of Zoom or Microsoft Teams. At first, I got stressed out as I didn’t want to seem unprepared. However, I learned that technical problems happen daily with everyone on the team and it’s out with my control.
4. Try to separate yourself from your desk
This is a similar issue I had with my university work. I never like to stop working and feel like I always need to be available to support my colleagues. I want my teammates to see that I’m working hard, as people can often slack when the boss is not around. Being stuck in your house all day though means you do need a moment to take a break, get some fresh air and clear your head.
5. Do not be scared to ask for help
Asking questions in a new job is key, especially when you are learning virtually. It is so much easier to ask questions, set up a video call and be honest if you don’t understand the task. If not, it could snowball into a bigger task in the long run – eek!
You can follow my Doqaru career journey through my LinkedIn profile.