While organisation’s across Australia begin to transition back to the office, the way in which we interact with our workplace will be radically different. Remote working will become a permanent fixture for many, workplace attendance will be modified, start times will be staggered and the physical office space will have to be re-designed to ensure safe distancing. These changes will have significant impacts across many aspects of working life, but one considerable change will be how new employees are transitioned into a new role and company.
Starting a new job can feel a little overwhelming at the best of times; there are a lot of new people to meet and a lot of new things to learn about both the role itself and the organisation. But factor in a global pandemic and the process can seem unimaginable. How can you get to know your team when you’ve never met them in person? How do you notify someone when you’re having trouble working out a new process? And yet, over the course of this year, many organisations throughout Australia – Design & Build included – have been able to successfully onboard new staff remotely and made them feel a welcome addition to the team. We’ve collated some tips below to help new employees navigate this new way of working and ensure they can put their best foot forward.
Prepare for meetings
Your first week especially will include a lot of meetings, some in person but depending on the organisation, a lot might be virtual. No matter the medium you’re using to meet with new colleagues, clients or other stakeholders you should always prepare yourself for these meetings. Find out who the person you are meeting with is, and what their role is within the organisation. You can easily do this through LinkedIn or staff directories, intranets, and the company website. Researching who you’re meeting and learning how your role with interact with theirs will give you some context for how you’ll work together in the future. You can also ask them for advice which can not only provide you with valuable information but demonstrates that you value their opinion and expertise, which builds foundations for a strong relationship. Part of preparing for meetings is also being punctual. Even when working from a computer at home, it’s important to not to keep any of the people you’re working with waiting, as this doesn’t create a good first impression or bode well for fostering positive future relationships. Try and log on for the day or to meetings at least five minutes beforehand, just like you would in an office.
Punctuality can also refer to your response time in getting back to people. With so many offices now working remotely and coming into a physical office at different times, it isn’t as easy to determine what people are working on or quickly check in. Responding to emails and chat messages in a timely manner helps to confirm things and ensures your colleagues aren’t left wondering. Doing this from the beginning of your role, sets the precedent that you’re organised, focused and willing to contribute.
Get involved with your new team
An important aspect of starting at new company is understanding it’s culture; it’s shared beliefs and values as these underpin every action and objective the organisation has and will ultimately dictate what you do in your role. Hopefully your organisation will go through these with you on your first day, or ideally have a document ready for you that outlines these key objectives and values, that you can process ahead of time. However, a big portion of a company’s culture is wrapped up in the language colleagues use and the way in which they interact with each other.
As a new employee, you would pick up on this behavior gradually, through daily office interaction. However, with work teams now operating on different schedules and people often not being in the office at the same time, it can take a lot longer to establish relationships and connections, and determine from behaviour on what actions are valued within the team.
To counteract this, experts encourage manufacturing these daily interactions through conducting daily check-ins with your colleagues – perhaps over the phone or via a teleconferencing app. These conversations don’t have to be long, but not only do these check ins give you the chance to build stronger relationships with your team- especially team members you don’t often cross paths with in the office- but gain an overall sense of belonging. During these conversations you can ask colleagues about your current projects and ask what they’re working on, to get a better sense of everyone’s role within the company. Regular check-ins provides you a chance to gauge on what your colleagues thinks is most important within their role or in the company.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Even when working within an industry you’re familiar with or a role you’ve had previous experience in, starting in a new company will always have elements of the unknown. Every organisation will have a unique way of doing things that a new employee will need to learn and the most efficient way to do this is ask questions. Some employees might start to feel a little self-conscious about ‘interrupting’ or ‘bothering’ their colleagues with constant questions in the first week or month, however it can actually be quite the opposite. Asking in-depth questions demonstrates to your team that you have a vested interest in your new role and are wanting to do things right, which creates a great first impression. It’s also in the best interests of your new manager and colleagues that you make a strong start in your new role, so they will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and guide you through those early stages. And most importantly, there is never a stupid question; asking questions when they first occur to you, will prevent misunderstandings further down the track that could negatively impact both your and the greater team’s productivity.
It can be a little harder to ask questions when you’re not face to face with someone in a meeting or having a conversation, so if a question occurs to you while you’re at home, make a note of it so that you can look back on it later. This can help if you’ve emailed someone a question and the email gets lost in the noise- by having a set of physical notes you can go over daily, you can remind yourself about certain things you’re still waiting on an answer for.
Set SMART Goals
Once you start to feel settled into your new role and have been properly introduced to the key people you’ll be working with, you can start setting up your key goals you want to achieve in your new role. Organise time with your manager to set SMART goals which you can achieve for the first month, six months and year of your new role, in order to develop and progress your skills and knowledge. ‘SMART’ goals, mean goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-scaled; ensuring your goals follow these criteria will help maximise your chances of fulfilling them. Your SMART goals, especially in the early stages don’t have to be large, the aim is to help you keep focus and have something to strive for in those first initial weeks and months. Especially, when working remotely, these goals will also help you to maintain focus and feel like you’re staying on track in the absence of having your manager and your team physically around you.
Once your goals have been set, ensure you arrange regular and routine catch ups to update your manager on your progress. This helps to demonstrate how motivated and driven you are.
Check Your Tech
If you are having to start a new job remotely, one of the most important things to check prior to the first day is your technology and the office set up as your technology; computer, software etc. will be your lifeline. Your organisation might deliver a new computer to you for your first week, or provide you with a laptop on your first day but it’s important for you to check your hardware as soon as you can; that everything works, your connection is strong etc. It’s also important to familiarise yourself with the software and tools you’ll be using in your new role; especially the platforms you’ll be conducting your video calls on. This will help alleviate some anxiety, as it’s one less thing to worry about during your first week. It also ensures that you’ll be able to hit the ground running as soon as you start and if there are any issues, you can resolve these straight away.
It’s never easy starting and settling in to a new organisation, and it can feel especially daunting having to navigate this process when you’re not sharing the same physical space as your new team. But it is possible and the right preparation and a proactive attitude, you can smoothly transition into a new team, and a new organisation and build the foundations for a strong and prosperous future with the company.