How to Handle Starting a New Job Remotely

While unemployment is still an issue across the United States, the economy is still moving along, and people are finding new jobs.  These jobs are often remote, so while they are starting something new, they still are not leaving home.  Working remotely can cause an issue for many people, but there are things you can do to help navigate the tricky waters of being the new person on a virtual team.

While you are working, you are not home

When you work from home, it is easy to be distracted by so many things such as the laundry or the dishes.  The television may also be forever present wherever you set up your workspace.  Then there are the kids who may be going to school remotely and the dog who just wants to play.

While you cannot completely ignore the kids or the dog, you can set boundaries with your children about work time so you are not interrupted every few minutes.  Unfortunately, the dog may not understand those boundaries, so you'll have to figure out that on your own.

As for other chores, when going to work in an office, you cannot take care of the laundry or the dishes.  Work time is not a time for household chores.  If you cannot get those chores completed before work, they should wait until the workday is complete.  It is hard to give your new job your complete attention if you are thinking about how long you have before you have to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer.

Get Dressed for work

Even though anyone you see on video is only going to see you from the shoulders up, you should dress as if you are going into an office.  To a point.  You don't have to wear a suit and tie, and you don't have to break out your good shoes, but you should also not be connecting to work in a t-shirt and bathrobe.  Clothes help with your mindset.  If you take the time to get dressed for work, you are giving yourself the time to prepare for work.

Schedule as many meetings or check-ins with supervisors and colleagues

Working remotely makes it harder to get face time with your co-workers.  Time with co-workers is when you learn about the company's ins and outs and learn about the company's culture.  This face time is important so you can get to know the people you are working with and learn the language of the company you are working for and what those unwritten rules and goals are that everyone seems to know even though it is never officially communicated.

Gather your mentoring team

When you start a new job, there are the people you are going to talking regularly to learn the ropes and how to do the job how the company wants the job done.  These mentors can be supervisors or managers, or they can be co-workers.  Mentors generally help you in two different ways. The first way is to help you do the job you were hired for, and the second is to help you navigate around the company for things like human resources or who to call for technical support or other issues you are bound to run in to.

Announce Yourself

If you are on a video call with several people, you may be tempted to stay quiet and listen to what is going on.  You may not have anything to contribute, so you will not want to bother anyone.  While you should not interrupt the meeting's flow, you should announce yourself when you log on to the call, letting people know you are new.  Most of the time, the person running the meeting will introduce you and give you a couple of seconds to say hello.  Use that short time wisely.  You can show yourself to be confident in just a few seconds with a smile and a quick "hello" in a strong voice.  

Ensure you are correctly centered on the screen so people don't see half of your face or the top of your head.  When you are on camera,  you should also make sure your lighting is adequate and that your background is clean and professional looking.  The last thing you want is to be introduced to your new co-workers and have your setting be a messy room.  A messy room can be a point of some good-natured ribbing for people already known in the company, but it leaves a wrong impression for a new person.

Don't be shy to ask for help

When you are new, you are always going to need help.  If you are new and working remotely, it is your responsibility to remain engaged with your co-workers and make sure you do the right thing and work as expected.  When you are unsure about something, ask for help and try to get on a video conference as often as possible.  Email or a voice over a phone is a challenging way to build a relationship with your new co-workers.

Take plenty of notes

You may get information in an email or receive a packet through the mail, but you should also keep a notebook or a diary of things you need to know so you are not asking for the same information repeatedly.  It is hard enough to start a new job.  It is much harder to start a job remotely.  Take as many notes as possible and until you learn the job and the culture, keep your notes handy, so you know how to navigate the waters of your new job.