Remote work certainly has its perks, but for many of us it also has its challenges. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the home office, discussing ways to adapt, and conquer—both as an employer and an employee. This is post 18 of the series. You can follow the rest of the series and read our past posts here.
For many of us, remote workdays used to be far and few between. In just a few short months, however, work as we know it has changed. Remote work is no longer a perk, it’s a necessity.
As businesses and employees pivot to support a new norm and the future of the office—job seekers are adapting as well. Interviews are happening over video, onboarding has gone virtual, and new hires are being shipped office equipment and welcome packages to their home addresses.
Many can agree that starting a new job can naturally evoke feelings of nervousness and uncertainty, but the current circumstances pose additional challenges for those starting in a new role. If you’re someone who has been recently hired as a remote employee, here are four hurdles you may be facing and tips for overcoming them.
Challenge #1: Getting to know your team
In-person interactions are highly valued, and for good reason. Face-to-face meetings make it easier to engage in conversation, pick up on social cues, and genuinely get to know someone. For those of you whose only interactions with your team have been virtual—it may be hard to feel like you really fit in. Fortunately, the more you interact with someone—whether in-person, or on video—the more you will naturally get to know them. We recommend being proactive in situations like these:
- Engage in casual conversation: It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities and forget to take a break to catch up with your team. This is especially true if you’re a new hire and want to give off a good impression. However, if you’d like to get to know your co-workers, you’ll need to have conversations with them that don’t necessarily have to do with work. Start by checking in at the beginning and end of each week. Use email or your business communication platform to ask them what their plans are for the weekend, and see Monday as a chance to follow up. You’ll get to know more about their lives outside of the “office,” while also sharing a bit about yourself. This will ultimately help you feel more in-sync with the team.
- Work with a wide range of people: Getting to know your team also includes getting to know how each person works. After all, a cohesive team delivers better results. A good team is usually made up of people who have different strengths that complement each other. By working with as many people on your team as possible, you’ll get to learn what those strengths are. If you don’t necessarily need to work directly with everyone, try reaching out with questions to gain a better sense of how each person communicates. This will not only make you a better communicator, but it will also make you more productive and effective in your role.
Tip: If you’re looking for a fun activity to get to know your team’s work personalities, consider suggesting an online test, such as the DiSC personality assessment.
- Organize team events: As of late, virtual team happy hours, coffee breaks, and game nights are all the rage. If your team isn’t following suit on the trend—step up and be the one to organize something fun. There’s no better way to get to know your new co-workers than over a casual drink or a little friendly competition. Read Also: 6 Virtual Team Building Activities To Boost Morale
Challenge #2: Understanding your role and how it fits in to company goals
Everyone seems so close, yet, so far away. This might also seem true when you’re analyzing your role and how it fits in with company goals. You know what you should be working on—yet may feel like you don’t truly see how your work is propelling the company forward. If remote work has you feeling a bit disconnected from the big picture, especially as a new employee—start by asking questions and trying to get more involved.
A good rule of thumb is to jot down things as they come up, and make sure you are meeting regularly with both your manager and team to discuss them. This can result in being copied in on more emails, or added to a specific distribution list so that you can stay in-the-know about business goals, changes, new hires, etc. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask to be introduced to key players within the organization, if you haven’t already. This way you can familiarize yourself with who they are and what they do and vice versa.
Challenge #3: Career growth and development
If you’re just starting a new job, you may not immediately be taking on any high-profile projects. However, there are ways to make sure you are constantly challenging yourself so that you can grow and develop in your role:
- Ask for more responsibility: If you feel that you’re ready to take on more responsibility, ask your manager. See if there’s anything you can help with in addition to what you’re working on. Always be willing to take on projects that may even put you out of your comfort zone, after all, you can’t learn without being challenged.
- Propose a training course: There are many free or low-cost training courses online. If you’d like to attend one, do your research and propose one to your manager. Seeking opportunities to learn is always well-received, and your new skills could make you better at your current job.
- Check in on your progress: Feedback is beneficial in any role. While it doesn’t have to be anything formal—consider asking your manager to regularly critique your work. This way you can adjust as you go and continue to manage expectations.
Challenge #4: The uncertainty of returning to the office
Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty with when and how companies will bring their employees back to the office. Will your job remain remote? Will you be expected to eventually be on-site? If you are on-site, what will it be like to meet your co-workers in person for the first time?
As things are continuing to change, you should start considering what your desired outcome to these questions would be. If you’ve come to like working from home, perhaps you want to bring that up to your manager. If you’re itching to get into the office, start asking your co-workers questions about the space so that you can become familiar. And, if you’re nervous about meeting your co-workers in person for the first time, don’t be. Starting as a remote employee actually gives you the advantage to get to know your co-workers from afar. When it comes time to go to the office, you’ll likely already feel comfortable with everyone on the team.