starting a new job when you’re working remotely

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’ve just accepted my very first job offer and should be starting in a few weeks’ time. The job will be 100% remote due to COVID and I’ve been informed that the office won’t be re-opening until January at the earliest. Do you and/or your readers have any tips for my first few days and weeks? On the positive side, I know exactly how to find the bathroom and where the coffee is kept, but I’m worried it’s going to be much more difficult to forge relationships and learn office norms. I also graduated before COVID kicked off so I’m not even used to studying remotely.

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 139 comments… read them below }

  1. OP - first job*

    OP here – I’m actually moving from doing a PhD in chemistry (in a very laid back environment) to working on educational policy in a different university. I kept the question to Alison quite vague because I know I won’t be alone in this situation and I’m sure there will be lots of people who could benefit from more general advice/tips

    1. New to School*

      Hi OP! Congratulations! Can you give advice about how you found your new job? I also have a STEM PhD and am interested in working in educational policy, but never quite know what job titles to search for or job boards to use.

      1. OP - first job*

        I’m based in the UK, and I know that the majority of the commenters are US-based so I don’t know how helpful some of my more specific recommendations would be. I’ve got some general pointers, but happy to provide specific websites etc if you are also in the UK

        – My role is specifically with a students’ union/association which is where I concentrated the majority of my job hunting. I did a lot of representation work as a student which gave me the edge over some candidates who had been in the workforce longer but hadn’t actually done representation work themselves.
        – Universities themselves. I picked a few that I was really interested in and kept a close eye on their jobs boards. For more general searching, there was so much variation in job titles that it was tricky to pick key words. Pretty much all universities here operate on the same pay-scale, so I would search for generic terms like ‘policy’ or ‘project’ or even ‘student’ and narrow to my level by sorting by salary
        – Learned societies will usually work on educational policy at both school and university level. For example, the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) or American Chemical Society (US). Don’t limit yourself to just the field you did your PhD in – just having research experience will be invaluable
        – Funding bodies and charities are also a good place to look. A lot of the bigger charities will do a lot of lobbying and funding bodies tend to be attached to whatever governmental department decides research policy and priorities
        – Local/national government departments might also be a good place to look

        Hope this is (vaguely) useful!

        1. New to School*

          Thank you so much, that definitely helps! I’m based in the US, but can look at local universities and national societies here!

          1. Former prof*

            I am a science ed PhD retired from teaching in a STEM university dept. Take a look at jobs available through NSF EHR or DUE. Yes to the professional societies as well. Check your state’s dept of education. If you are a recent PhD look at postdoc positions on grant-funded programs – you can look at NSF’s lists of funded programs. Many universities have centers for science education- talk to the directors about what they recommend. Also check the regional federal education labs – WestEd in California, NWREL in PNW, and eight more. Also check out science museums – they have education staffs. Good luck! Science ed is a great field to be in!

    2. Rebecca*

      Hi OP! I also have a PhD in chemistry and now work in project management in academia. This maybe doesn’t address your question so directly, but one thing that took me a while to understand is how the “deliverables” are different. In grad school this is really clear: results and papers; in the work world, it may look very different and be harder to define, so I think this is really good to be clear on especially since working remotely makes everything more confusing!

      Forging relationships will probably be more difficult, especially if you, like me, are a hide-in-the-lab, please-don’t-talk-to-me type of introvert. My advice would be to attend all the meetings you can, listen, and then don’t beat yourself up if you can’t connect with coworkers right away. I’m sure I can also learn some things in this vein from other commenters. Good luck!

      1. lurker :)*

        I just wanted to re-iterate what Rebecca said here! Connecting with your new teammates takes time. I started a new role about a year ago and we went fully remote shortly after I started. As I started to be able to take on work, my relationships with my coworkers developed naturally. So be patient and be as open and available to hop on any call and help out with anything, and it will come!

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Attend meetings and write down (or otherwise note) questions to ask a coworker later – that’s a good way to start getting a sense for office norms or background information you may not have yet.

      3. OP - first job*

        Thanks – this is a really good point about deliverables. I am actually extremely extroverted by the standards of my former reclusive colleagues (partly why I’m changing careers), but suspect I will be less abnormal in a “normal” office environment

      4. Libervermis*

        I agree with attending all the meetings you can. I started a new role in February where my primary job is supporting faculty in certain programs, and COVID hit before I could meet everyone. I’ve been at pretty much every faculty workshop or training just so people get to know my face, even if the training itself wouldn’t be something I’d attend just for me – and it’s worked! Met a couple colleagues for the first time in person at an outdoor meeting a few weeks ago and one said “oh, I’ve seen you on all the trainings”.

        Congratulations and good luck!

    3. Lauren*

      Ask your manager who you should set up 15 min calls with that would be relevant to your work, but not necessarily on your team. Sometimes this would be a digital content person or dev who will post any of your policy on the university site. Perhaps PR. Ask about how their role intersects with your team. This allows your manager to farm out part of your first week.

      Ask for past policy documents to read through as well as brand guidelines.

      Make sure you chat with a peer and ask if there are any staff meetings that you need to be added to if your manager hasn’t already done so.

      After your 3rd day, you should have a list of things to work on. So confirm with your manager and ask about her timelines of each and priority. Also ask if your manager would like to have a weekly 15 min status call to check in to switch to biweekly after a few weeks.

      All of this shows you are organized, available, and taking initiative to introduce yourself. In any new job, your goal is to take away items from your boss. Make her life easier.

      1. LMM*

        These short chats were really useful to me when I started a new job! This is great advice. Helps you meet people beyond your team throughout your organization, and they’ll remember you as the person who came to them for advice when you need their help with something.

      2. LilyP*

        From the perspective of someone welcoming new all-remote coworkers, a short video touchbase really helps attach a face+name to a new role/workflow/contact and helps me remember you and think of you in other contexts. People like to be asked for their expertise/opinions so it’ll often make a positive first association too.

        Also, make sure your manager or buddy-coworker adds you to any ongoing social calls or channels or activities!

      3. definitelybecky*

        I agree with this 100%! I started a new job at a university (staff position) at the end of August, my team is almost entirely remote, and it has been difficult in many ways.

        The best thing I did (and still do, actually), was set up short video calls with colleagues – co-workers, people my manager suggested, people who I was communicating with about a project, people I knew I would be collaborating with in the future, etc. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the question “what advice can you give me that you wish someone had told you when you first started here?”

        Also, figure out how people informally communicate, and join! My team uses MS Teams, so I made sure to join in conversations there, spent a little bit of time observing how people use it, but then ask your questions, say “happy Friday”, whatever else you can to contribute and make yourself part of the team.

        Also, sometimes when I had questions, I’d ask my manager “who on the team would be the best one to tell me about this”, instead of always getting answers from my manager. YMMV depending on your situation, but I have a team of about 8 co-workers who all have basically the same role as me so it has been helpful to spread out the questions and get to know different people and their areas of expertise.

    4. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Oddly enough, I’m going to be in this exact situation in a little over a week…and in a completely different state, no less! This thread is beautiful timing for me.

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        Well, not 100% exact…it’s not my very first job, but it feels like it after being unemployed since April!

        1. OP - first job*

          Congratulations! I’ve been unemployed since January so the thought of starting up again is pretty daunting. Good luck with your new role

    5. Artemesia*

      Congrats. Everyone knows these are weird times. I’d contact the people you will be working with and acknowledge that — ‘usually we’d have a time to chat or get coffee to get acquainted but here I am starting the job in my basement. Could we set up a time to chat on zoom in the next week so I can get to know you a bit as we start working together?’

    6. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Congrats on the new job! I started a new position literally hours before the county-wide lockdown would shut down the office. I was essentially given a laptop and told to figure it out.
      A few tips for you:
      -Over familiarize yourself with your org’s preferred group communication tool whether it be MS Teams, Slack, Skype, etc. It is going to be your friend. But at the same time realize that if your workplace communicates in long e-mail chains instead of a group chat, well, that’s the work it works and you’ll just need organize your inbox accordingly.
      -Upload a photo of you (a well lit, shoulders up headshot where people can easily see your features) to your Outlook/Teams, etc. You want people to recognize you when you call into video calls!
      -Ask for what you need. Whether it be office supplies, knowledge of where common resources are kept, or even just how PTO is supposed to work. Remember that people generally tend to take a lot of things that are specific to their workplace for granted and won’t remember that “Oh OP doesn’t know that we file the llama file under C for Camelid.”
      -Find someone who can be your “stupid question buddy”. My new job has me reporting directly to a VP and CEO, not the people I want to ask “Hey, how do I submit an IT request?” But, the friendly cost accountant is more than happy to fill me in on those types of things.
      -Be kind. Kind to yourself and to others. Remember that you’re e-meeting these people for the first time during what is for many, the most stressful situation they’ve ever been in. Give yourself room to breathe and to learn. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”! No reasonable person would expect you to know everything you need to know in the first 3 months!

      1. No Longer Looking*

        Unless there is a lot of turnover, most of the people you interact with will know you a lot sooner than you know them. That’s ok, forgive yourself for it. One thing I did was, we had a big staff meeting on zoom in my first month, and I took a screenshot so I had faces to try putting names to. It isn’t perfect but it’s a start.

        I definitely +1 finding the Stupid Question Buddy.

        I started a new accounting position a month after lockdown. I did find that the learning-via-zoom went smoother than I expected – take a LOT of notes of course on any procedures and processes, even if they seem user-friendly and obviuos. If necessary, ask them to run though something twice, once fast for comprehension and once slow for notes. Whether that is as helpful for you as it was for me is as much about your learning style and what you’re learning, but when WFH it’s a lot harder to poke your head around the corner to ask a quick question.

    7. Ditto*

      Congratulations on your new job! I was in the same boat starting a new, unexpectedly remote job at the start of lockdown, so appreciate what a weird situation it is! Some things that helped me were:

      1. Setting up short, half-hour calls with people you’ll be working with, but over a virtual coffee rather than a meeting. Zoom calls can be so draining and I found it better to do this in short chunks as an informal chat rather than trying to meet everyone at once. My manager helped set these up, so if you have an orientation in your first week, see if they can do the same for you. It can be scary, but the payoff is worth it.
      2. We had a new starter the other week joining our team meeting and she took a screenshot of us on Zoom so she had a reference image to match names to faces when she was speaking to us over email. I just thought that was a nice idea!
      3. We’ve got a Slack channel where people post short updates about what they’re planning for the day. It’s not a perfect system (the temptation to appear busy!), but it helped me think ahead and keep a record of what I’d been doing. You could do the same but at the end of the day to keep a personal note of what you’ve covered, trained on or done in the day.
      4. Treat virtual calls like you would a physical meeting, in that you’d take 5/10 minutes either side to walk to the meeting room, get set up and settled. Give yourself a break either side and step away from the screen for a breather.
      5. Check in with your employers DSE standards and if you’ve got the opportunity to get some ergonomic furniture, take it! A few weeks in on my crappy old desk chair and my back was killing me. It’s not slacking to take the time to stretch or rest your eyes, it’s taking care of your health at work.
      6. If you’re using a work laptop, pack it up and put it away each day. A comment on another post articulated it best, but we’re inviting work into our homes like we never have before; don’t feel tempted to it outstay its welcome.
      7. The first few weeks will be hard, it’ll get easier, and then it’ll probably get hard again. We’re trying to make it through a life-shifting pandemic and if your mind’s not on work 100% of the time, that’s okay.
      8. There will be days when someone’s emailing you every few minutes, and days when no-one emails at all. The majority of jobs have an ebb and flow of work so if you’ve got some quiet time, savour it!
      9. When you start any new job, your inbuilt reference library of what to do is reset. This really unsettled me when I first started, but it’s completely normal. Sometimes you won’t know all the answers. But, if you’ve had your chats with the team and got to know what they do, you’ll know who to ask to find out.
      10. Confirm with your line manager what the expectations of your new workplace are. I went from a workplace where we were expected to be present on slack immediately to one where we don’t have meetings on Fridays or outside of 10 til 4. And guess which one I’m more productive and happier in?

      There are undoubtedly other tips out there, but these are the things I wish someone had told me. Good luck!

    8. well wisher*

      Hey OP!
      Congrats! If it helps, I started my second job (fully remote position) during covid! Most of my coworkers are in another country, which makes it a tiny bit trickier as well. Here’s what’s worked for me:
      1. See if you can get a 1:1 meeting with people whose departments work with yours, or will affect your work. They will benefit getting to know you, and you’ll have a face to the name if you ever need their help.
      2. Make informal coffee chat meetings with your team the first month. These are 30 mins to just get to know them as people! This will help them feel more comfortable with you and vice versa.
      3. Listen a lot to learn how the organization works. If you can figure out what people want and what is valued, you can begin to add your own value much earlier!
      4. (If possible with your job) find hours and work methods that are good for you. My coworkers are 5 hrs ahead so I log on early, and also log off early. I also know when is good to take a break and when I need to be fully alert.

      Best of luck, and it’ll be so great when you finally meet them in person!!

    9. Esmeralda*

      Congrats on the job!

      We hired several people into our academic adjacent department at a large R1 university this year. Two of them were hired completely online, one worked very briefly in person before the university closed down in the spring.

      We already have a very robust training / onboarding to cover all aspects of the job, as well as mentoring (I’m the mentor for all our new hires). So I have been meeting with my mentees biweekly since they were hired. We discuss what’s going well, where they have concerns or challenges, go over specific situations they have questions about (trying to be a little vague here so I don’t out myself!), discuss university and division/department policies, talk about office culture sorts of things, and, as they become more comfortable with their job functions, professional development. I observe them in some of their core functions. I’m available outside our meetings to answer questions. And I check in at least once a week with a “how’s it going” or “here’s a weird policy thing you probably don’t know about”. Also at our staff meetings I translate shorthand for them (who’s “Bob in Admissions” and what does that acronym mean, etc)

      It’s all been virtual.

      This is a bit unusual at universities, I think. So I’d suggest finding someone who can do some of these things for you. Identify someone who seems in the know and friendly/helpful. Your supervisor could help you with that.

    10. Anony-Mouse*

      I’m introverted and so is most of my team. But one of the newer employees (of six months) Sergei reached out to the newest employee Melinda when they started. Even though Sergei was also relatively new, he offered to be a type of mentor Melinda. I thought that was great.
      Hopefully someone will reach out to you when start, but if not, I’d say you should just reach out to your new teammates. Send them emails or IMs and start getting to know them. Ask them questions about the work too, and about themselves. Great way to get to know folks and get to know your job too.
      Congrats on your new job!

    11. EngineerMom*

      Lots of meetings! They don’t have to be video, but make a point of having meetings with folks you will be working with frequently on an individual basis, kind of like mini informational interviews.

      We had some interns over the summer where I work. Normally they’re onsite, but this year, they were all remote. The ones that had the most success scheduled individual meetings with most of the people on our team, just to have 15-30 minutes to get to know them and talk a little bit about what they did. Then, when they needed advice or assistance later, they had a “bank” of folks to contact.

  2. Also Started Remote in the Pandemic*

    I did this too! I’d say my best advice is to try and get video chats set up one-on-one with your co-workers in the first few weeks to get to know them and get a face with the name. It helps so much to have that connection!

    1. Sumrie*

      I’m in the same situation, and I did this also. It did not even occur to me, but my manager sent intro emails to everyone in our team, and to people in other departments that had the same role as I do to schedule a time.

    2. Smithy*

      Just started a new job a month ago, and 100% agree with this. Setting up one on one chats with co-workers on your team, other teams, etc. is really helpful. It helps with getting a face to the name, but also having your new co-workers put more of a face and identity to you.

      Just this week in one of those meetings that included my boss’s boss and someone from another team, I was asked to “describe my team”. My boss’s boss ended up being very impressed with how I answered and she also noted the fact that I was “able to do that while clearly moving” (thank you to the u-haul boxes on Zoom). If I don’t necessarily interact with her for another few months, it provided a number of ways to leave an impression beyond just what I was saying.

    3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yes – definitely. My company is remote for most positions, so when we onboard new people, as part of training we ask them to reach out to coworkers (on their team and outside their team) to have a quick chat about what they do, company culture, WFH set-up, etc. It’s really nice to get a chance to talk to people and start developing rapport. Even if your company doesn’t actively encourage it, you could do something like that in your first few weeks. It’s basically the equivalent of “hey, I’m new, let’s grab coffee sometime and chat”

    4. WegMeck*

      After the first few weeks of getting to know your immediate team, don’t be shy about setting up this kind of 1:1 “coffee date” with folks from different departments with whom you only occasionally work, too. We’ve had a handful of folks start at my workplace during the pandemic and several of them have reached out to set up 30 minute informal 1:1 “coffee chats” with me, despite not being colleagues who work together.

      This is a great way to do some work on those bonds that might normally form from passing each other in the office kitchen, etc, and has made it much easier for me (as a more tenured employee) to get a sense for how to communicate with my new colleagues as well and helped me remember to loop them in to conversations that might be relevant to their day-to-day, etc.

      A lot of offices also have informal slack/google chat channels (ex: channels where folks post pictures of their cute pets or talk about new recipes). Make sure to ask about whether things like these exist explicitly, since that’s typically one of those more organic things that’s not likely to show up on an on-boarding plan. If these exist at your company, it can be a great way to get some of that more “organic” visibility into the broader organization and your coworkers as people.

      1. cleo*

        Agree about asking if there are any informal / random channels or chats. And I’d also ask if there are any regular virtual socializing things like happy hours or coffee hours. Those also tend to be less official and not make it into on boarding but are good ways to meet people.

    5. Sam*

      We had two new people start during this time as well! We have 15 minute video chats each morning as a team (usually 5 of us) to chat about what we did the night before/hi how are ya, anyone super busy today and need support/help with items? What are you working on? I find this helps keep us connected, and really helped to get to know the new staff. It also helps to know who is getting swamped and who could take on a bit more. It’s a good mix of work chat like, ” I have back to back meetings today so don’t expect quick turnarounds from me” to life stuff, “I’m ducking out to pick up the kids from Daycare at 3, so expect to see me online later tonight than usual”

    6. Anonys*

      I actually think in my company onboarding processes have improved since the pandemic. I started a few weeks before WFH began and I honestly felt quite lost in the huge open space office in the beginning, didn’t know anyone apart from my immediate team, etc and felt people were to busy to introduce me (Im an extrovert but shy around new people and taking initiative in approaching people when I feel “new”)

      I think WFH has forced the teams to be more structured around onboarding – making a real effort to set up coffee calls for new hires with people from other teams/departments and stuff like that because it won’t happen organically now. I’m not saying I would have preferred to start as wfh, obviously there is huge value to getting to know people in person, going to lunch and such, but I’ve already suggested that some things should be kept on even when we return to office.

    7. iceberry*

      I also changed jobs this year and have been completely remote. In addition to one-on-one’s in the beginning, I have a standing weekly one-on-one with a few members of my team, where we generally try to not discuss specific tasks, but have more “water cooler” type discussions that aren’t typically happening in the remote environment. Relationship building is so important.

    8. Code Monkey the SQL*

      Agree as well! We had folks start just a couple weeks before lockdowns, and having a face to put with a name helped a lot.

      They’ve done well despite everything – I hope your remote start does too.

    9. Same*

      Same here, started a new job completely WFH til further notice and moved to a new city just a few months ago. I agree with everyone else here and will just add to not be afraid to speak up right away if there’s something you don’t know, don’t wait until you have your next scheduled meeting, ask right away.

      As for the more interpersonal stuff, I personally have a hard time with names and faces even in person, so I actually took some screenshots during those early introduction meetings, so I could keep a face to the names even when just sending a quick chat message.

    10. Quinalla*

      Yes, hopefully your new coworkers will sent some of these up, but if they don’t, ask for it yourself. Try to do it as a joint lunch or something else that makes it easier for people (right now lunch isn’t always the best time for people so YMMV) and I would make an effort to IM/call/video chat with people everyday. Right now when I have that impulse to turn and tell someone something like you could easily do in the office, I’ll send a quick IM. If I have a tougher question or need to run something by someone, I’ll see if someone is available for a quick video chat or phone call. It is significantly more effort to do this kind of thing now, so be prepared.

  3. MyDogIsCalledBradlyPooper*

    I am interested in this from the other side. I have a new employee starting in a couple of weeks. How do I support them as a manager? How do I get them up to speed on processes and monitor their performance without spending hours on Teams with them everyday? They will be a part of my daily scrums so I can introduce them to my team easily. How do I introduce them to the other teams in our group, we cannot just walk around the office one morning and to brief introductions.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      On top of all the other orientation you might normally do, make sure there’s clear guidance on which tools are used for what purpose, as well as what expectations exist for how you’ll collaborate using the various tools, e.g. are you now a DMing culture at work when previously you called each other? Has everyone fully migrated to Slack/Teams/whatever and now emails are saved for very formal occasions? Is everyone sharing files from personal cloud storage accounts or is there somewhere more central that things live? If you’re in the Microsoft ecosystem, which SharePoint sites / Teams should they have access to? etc.

    2. Ronit*

      do you have staff meetings, or larger team meetings that they could conceivably pop into to “meet” folks? Or is it possible to set up a zoom where other managers can come to “meet” them and pop in any time during a set hour to introduce themselves and say hi? Also, depending on your physical location and proximity to the new person (and current restrictions in your state), can you send them a package with some supplies, a coffee mug, any branded swag, or a gift card to buy some stuff to set up their work space?

    3. RemoteCoffeeBreaks*

      If you’re working accd to Scrum you should be able to monitor their progress in your daily stand-ups. Is there someone on the team in the same meetings, processes etc as the new colleague? Have them tag along with that person for a day.

      I set up an additional daily 15 minute afternoon call with new employee in the first 1-2 weeks they’re really starting to work on their own projects so they have a fixed time for one-on-one time with me. And they knew they could message me at any time in between.

      When introducing a new colleague maybe add 5 minutes to your daily stand up and then have all members of your team individually set up a 10-15 minute intro call with the new person. Tell them also to grab a coffee or tea and please introduce themselves.

      I’ve found that those coffee breaks/kitchen talks/social interaction is what’s missing most for my team. So I’ve specifically started planning for those – since those in-between meeting moments don’t happen as they would in the office.

      So that’s also my advice for OP: Set up meetings. Ask the people you’re working with the most for an informal meeting – like grabbing a coffee, but via Zoom. One on one or see if you can get a coffee break room in your new team to say hi. (Due the limits of technology, one on one is easier for actually getting to know people.)

    4. Everdene*

      I had a new start a couple of months ago, it is far from ideal but everyone being remote made it easier for them to conect with colleagues from other locations. To prevent ‘zoom fatigue’ I didn’t try and squash all introductions into the first few days but spread things out. Rough schedule was:
      Week one: Get to know team. Daily team meetings + daily 121 with me + 121s with each team member, each briefed on a specific area and had personal chat.
      Week two: Get to know dept. Daily team meeting + 2-3 121s with me + 121 with my boss + 121s other teams in our dept.
      Week three: Get to know wider org. Daily team meetings + 2 121s with me + 121s with colleagues from other depts that will be useful.

      Last week we met in person for the first time for an outdoor walk. They have been meeting colleague with most similar role weekly (as restrictions allow) for coffee and chat. We also have weekly informal Teams happy hour on Friday.

      They have gradually built up work product (no starting fast, I thought that would be too much) and can ask me or others in the team for support as needed. From what I can see, work is at a high level. Only thing we can’t do is observe a client meeting, but I feel confident this isn’t an issue.

    5. Smithy*

      If you have the time, set up one on one meetings – even if for just 30 minutes – with not just their team, but also other teams/individuals they might work with. Connecting with people over video chat one on one or in a small group is far different from a larger meeting.

      Additionally, depending what their overall onboarding looks like – having someone start with a calendar with meetings schedules can serve as a helpful break from HR/reading/etc.

    6. OP - first job*

      Obviously I haven’t started yet but one of the things which has already been very helpful was a chart of who’s who in the organisation which was included as part of the job pack. As someone else mentioned further down in the comments, it’s tricky to get to know names and faces remotely and being able to look people up in advance has already helped me feel a bit more prepared.

    7. TheLayeredOne*

      My team was 100% remote pre-COVID and when we bring on new people, there’s a set schedule of supervisor meetings, trainings, learning sessions, coworker 1:1s, team get-to-kn0w-yous, etc. It keeps people busy the first couple days and gives them a solid intro to the company and the team.

    8. Malarkey01*

      Our large organization started something (actually right before Covid) where new employees fill out a quick survey (like where were you before coming here, hometown, college attended, fun fact about you, 3 words to describe you, and if you were a sitcom what would be your theme song) along with a quick picture). I rolled my eyes the first time, but it’s actually a good way to introduce someone new in a large organization and we’ve found people in other groups reach out to the new person when they get these to say “hi, I’m Bob and work in llama grooming. We’ll talk a lot about blanket styles, and cool we have the same hobby”.

    9. drpuma*

      We’ve had a few new people join since COVID. In addition to the good suggestions here, I would recommend being extra crystal clear with your new hires about how quickly you expect them to ramp up and gain proficiency in their role. They may be sitting at home quietly for the first few days or even weeks, and you can preemptively ease their minds about how much downtime they should expect to have.

      For new people who were not on my immediate team, whenever a meeting wrapped up early rather than ending it I would make the explicit ask, “We have 5 more minutes – ask me anything at all about our company. I know you’re not getting to run into people in the hallway so I want to make sure you have time to ask questions.”

    10. AMR*

      This might be dependent on your team’s culture, but we had a new employee start with my org the first week we were fully remote and we arranged for a virtual happy hour one night — just an informal way to get to know each other and make sure she had faces to names. A virtual team lunch or informal meeting like others have suggested would also work!

      My department also has a streamlined onboarding process that includes a structured meeting schedule with every member of the team. This way, the new employee not only gets a sense of the various projects and responsibilities people have (and how that will relate to their own role), but it’s also a chance to actually talk to everyone at least once in their first month. It was easy to convert that to a virtual version as well.

    11. Ama*

      I just hired someone in August and we are WFH until at least next year. We already had regular orientations with individual departments as part of our onboarding pre-pandemic and have continued those as video calls so she was at least able to meet everyone pretty early on, but I’ve really tried to encourage my new hire to reach out to other coworkers to chat about projects where we might be able to collaborate or get useful background info. We are a department of two, so any place where she can get training or info from someone who isn’t me I encourage, in part because I want her to know who she can go to for help if I am sick/taking vacation, and in part so I don’t have to have all the burden of training. I will say I lucked out in that she’s really good at looking at old versions of documents and being able to mostly figure out how to do things so that has made training a lot easier because I can just say “take a look at this file and try updating, we can talk about anything you get stuck on.”

      One other thing I did the first week she was employed was host a “happy hour” and invite everyone, where we just chatted and did an icebreaker question (very neutral, just “what’s something you’ve watched/read/listened to lately that you’d recommend?). I’d say about 75% of our 35 person office popped in for at least a little bit (it was the Thursday of Labor Day weekend so many people were out) and several of my coworkers later said they really enjoyed it — it had been months since we’d had any kind of just social Zoom and people liked catching up a bit.

    12. SomebodyElse*

      I found that for the first few weeks a daily 30 min meeting with me and new employee is good. It allows for all those questions that pop up during the day, some of the housekeeping stuff like access and equipment, I use it for additional onboarding overview type topics (historical context, site video tours/explanations) and just other conversation and to get to know the new employee.

      These meetings are specifically not very structured and very informal. Then as we both get a comfort level I start backing these down to 2-3 times a week and after a month or 2 they morph into our weekly 1:1.

      If they last 5 minutes, that’s great, if they go over by 30 min not a problem. I always schedule these for the end of the day.

      The other thing is I start with a ridiculously long and detailed onboarding plan, which includes 1:1’s with primary contacts in the organization (these contacts I schedule a meet and greet and the list then becomes a reference for who to contact). I explain that it’s mostly for me to make sure I don’t forget anything, but I think it also gives the new person some confidence that there is a plan and they won’t just be winging it from afar.

    13. iantrovert (they/them)*

      As a Product Owner on a scrum team that doubled in size when we added new remote folks earlier this year, I found that getting them up to speed involved a fair amount of work on the existing team’s side. We got together ahead of the onboarding and basically mapped out what things our team works on and what knowledge, tools, and access is required for that (and how to attain those–including “who knows about this when you have questions”). Having a pretty significant time zone difference meant that for the new folks, resources needed to be accessible when the rest of the team was asleep. It was pretty helpful to create documentation specific to our team’s domain, which doesn’t really overlap with others, and while we also did online training sessions with our more senior team members after scrum, we recorded those for easy review. In the end we had created a fairly substantial set of training documents and in the process, instilled the value of documenting-as-we-go in the engineers ;)

      In terms of getting to know each other, we have made a point to do a ‘team-building’ 30-60 minute long event about once a month–we’ve done a scavenger hunt, a “photos of your favorite x”, shared recipes, and played some Jackbox games. Sounds like a lot, sure, but a little intra-team competition in games and talking about various things that we enjoy and how others relate to those has gone a long way toward team members being more understanding of struggles and collaborating to solve problems. For external folks, we tend to cc our team on those emails anyway, and once the team mailing list was updated, they could see and participate in conversations as well. Having an in-team chat group helps too, especially with the mindset from everyone that “hey, stupid question, but…” is okay and welcome–and means that if you don’t know where to go or who to ask, you can find out and nobody will judge you for it–and if someone is hesitant, it’s easy to pop open a new chat window with the new person, the external person, and say, “Hi So-and-so! I wanted to introduce you to NewPerson. They are a new developer on OurTeamName who will be handling the XYZ, and so will be contacting you for the requests related to that in the future.”

      We also have a few social groups, and it might be worth letting them know that those exist, and how to get in touch with the organizers.

    14. Daisy-dog*

      I started my job in late April, so I’ve been remote for almost 6 months. I didn’t actually know what we did until we had our Town Hall meeting in July. I knew the gist (and this industry is brand new to me), but it was real hazy. Of course, I had been immensely busy in that the 3 months prior. So maybe offer to do a weekly introduction to different aspects of the business. I did actually get a really good explanation in the interview, but it didn’t sink in.

    15. Aemilia*

      I started a new job three weeks ago that’s currently WFH, and one of the best things my manager was to ask my team members to set up 1:1 zoom casual catch-ups with me over the first week, and ask other managers in our branch to add me to one of their regular meetings so I could meet colleagues outside my immediate team. It made me feel really welcome, and also took the pressure off me having to reach out and set things up while I was still finding my feet.

      For the OP, I’d cosign all the advice given. Ask the stupid questions, join in the slack banter – people understand that it’s strange right now and at least in my experience are really generous.

  4. B Wayne*

    Don’t worry. You never know, the company may have a 14 hour on line computer training all ready for you covering everything from computer and phone safety, harassment, biases and so forth. So, just take it as it comes, it probably will be frustratingly boring every so often before someone thinks of you doing “X” and brace yourself, they just might have an extensive training program all ready for you to undertake.

    1. C in the Hood*

      Actually, you may want to ASK if there’s any computer training/orientation materials that you should be going through in the beginning. I also would hope that your manager would have an “introduction to the team” virtual meeting so you’ll get to know who’s who & what each does. If not, that’s a question you may want to ask. An org chart may be helpful as well, along those lines.

      1. EmmieAndIzzie*

        I started a new position 4 months ago. I am in the office and 90%+ are remote. I have asked fir a phone list (response was we don’t have that which I later found!), org chart (blank look response and then asked why). There is 150+ employees. I have huge roadblocks and it’s very frustrating.

      2. umbrastaff*

        I’m onboarding a new person just this week and set up a few short virtual meetings to meet the team, got them a buddy to ask all those random questions of, and an org chart too (that seemed to help a lot). And actually yeah, there are… many hours of trainings to come, haha.

  5. Rambler*

    When you need info, call someone. Or reach out via IM, and THEN call. We have a few new people in our group who just started from outside the company, full remote, and the one who started calling me with questions, I feel much more connected and comfortable with than the one who has only been IM’ing, for the most part.
    When you’re new, it’s easier to make phone calls, because you need a lot of explanation that is tedious to type, and then you get the benefit of voice, tone, sarcastic side comments, jokes, and the “while we’re waiting for this to load, tell me about you” stuff that you would get if you were sitting at someone’s desk.

    1. Green great dragon*

      Agreed. But maybe IM them first with a ‘free now or is there a time later today I could call?’ so they have time to do the ‘tell me about you’ bit when you call.

      1. Rambler*

        Yeah, that’s what I meant when I said IM and then call. Find out if they’re free, and then when they are, switch to voice. You get a lot better sense of their personality that way and it is easier to connect. :)

      2. Camellia*

        Find out office norms for use of IM and email. In my office, for IM, we always send a Hi or GM first and then wait for a response. It’s like the polite knock on the office door to see if the person is available to interact with you right at that moment. If no response is received, try again later. I sometimes wait until the person does respond but I have to know their pattern – DO they respond or did they delete the IM and you have to be the one to reach out again?

        Also in my office, email is treated as urgently as an IM. You are expected to see and respond to emails as quickly as possible. None of this ‘check my email once or twice a day’ where I work!

        I always warn new people about these two things since I think they are a bit different from the norm. Find out what is normal for your new place.

        1. Camellia*

          To clarify, we literally do just send “Hi” or “GM” because you never know when that person is sharing their screen with others.

    2. OP - first job*

      That’s a really good point, thanks. It can be so tricky to gauge tone via IM so I’ll definitely try and be proactive around phone (and video) calls

      1. NewWorkingMama*

        I feel like be careful with this though. In my office culture, this would be weird. We’re very much an IM team unless we’re setting up time to go over something specific.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Same (and my team has been fully remote for years and years pre-COVID) — we have 22 people who either IM or email with questions, and one guy who calls me. Invariably, with the one guy who calls, it’d be so much easier if he just IMed me so we could both copy and paste account info to look at the details, because when he reads off the numbers aloud on the phone, he always has to correct himself at least twice, and then I’m sending him screenshots via IM of where he should be looking while I’m on the phone with him because that’s easier than trying to describe it, and … meh. :P

          1. Rambler*

            I get this, but what we do is if I’m on the phone with the guy and need to do something technical, I open the Skype window and share my screen with him, or have him share his screen with me. Then you walk through it together on the phone and screen. Or we’ll be in the middle of a conversation and I’ll shoot the link he needs into the IM.

            Phone does not have to be mutually exclusive with IM/email/screen sharing. You can do the things together.

        2. TheLayeredOne*

          Same. My team uses Slack and calling someone without Slacking first would be weird, and a little intrusive. If it’s a complicated or technical question, then we move to a Zoom. Or you Slack someone and say “hey, do you have a few minutes to Zoom about x?” But calling out of the blue would be very out of sync with our team culture. (Personally, I’ve worked in both types of offices and in some ways I prefer phone-first culture, but it is what it is!)

      2. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, as with all of these questions, it depends on your office, which you won’t really know until you get started and working with people.

        But if you can find someone that is helpful they may be able to give you specific information on how things work best, and they can certainly point to you that, say, an IM first before a phone call/video call is the norm. That is typically the case with me. We IM first, and sometimes the conversation is just via IM (depending on the person) and other times people want to get on a call, so once the person responds, we can get on a call and discuss. Some people just prefer IM vs phone calls.

  6. lisa*

    I started my current job in August as a fully remote employee due to COVID, so I feel your pain! A few tips that would have been helpful to me:

    – It’s gonna feel weird. It just is. I don’t think I had fully internalized how weird it was going to feel.
    – It’s harder to get to know names and faces when working remotely; I keep an org chart open most of the time to help me try to fit each person into the bigger picture. (We’re about a 70-person organization, so small enough that I’m expected to know everyone at least by name after a certain amount of time.)
    – See if HR can assign you an orientation “buddy,” to connect with for random questions about office culture, processes, and the like. I hated having to direct every tiny question to my boss, and once HR assigned me a buddy I had an alternative person to go to.
    – Accept that something are going to take longer to learn than you’d normally expect, since you’re both learning to navigate a virtual workplace and learning a new job. Be gentle with yourself and know you’re doing your best.
    – Definitely get a regular check-in time set up with your supervisor if at all possible, since you won’t be running into them in the hallway for at least the next few months.

    Good luck! I’m finally starting to get the feel of things, and you will too–it just takes a bit more time and a bit more effort.

    1. OP - first job*

      I’m not normally great with names and faces at the best of times so I have to admit to having done a bit of LinkedIn stalking. When I applied for the job, the job pack included a complete organisation chart which has come in very handy. An orientation buddy is also a great idea

      1. MissDisplaced*

        To be honest, I’ve been at my job for 3 years, have 25+ years of experience, and was used to working remote at least part of the time. But since March, it still is more difficult sometimes to arrange time with people and get up to speed on things. Realize this: your supervisor may not have time for you!

        I highly recommend both an “onboarding buddy,” and trying to set up (with your manager’s support and approval of who this should be) a mentor/sherpa/guide to the company once you’ve been there past your initial onboarding and 60-90 days. This is especially important if you’re new to the work force in general! All companies have a culture and processes you have to learn all over every time. So ideally, this person would be someone who is respected within your team and/or larger organization (say if you’re in marketing, accounts payable, R&D, etc.) and who has been with the company a fairly long time.

        I work in a huge global organization, the largest I’ve ever worked at, and I when I started I was kind of thrown in. Fine, I had the experience to be productive “to myself and team” right off. What I didn’t realize is how very “political” this organization truly was, and how difficult it was to break in as an outsider who wasn’t there 15+ years as most were just to get the simplest of work done. It really takes a lot to navigate it–even after 3 years. They even speak their own language full of acronyms and abbreviations. I was definitely not set up for success.

    2. TheLayeredOne*

      I love the idea of an orientation buddy! Also, be proactive in asking questions about communication, office culture, etc. – things that you would normally learn by observing. Most important to me would be how do people communicate? What’s the right way to ask someone a question, or check in on a project? How will you and your supervisor check in? In some offices, people might on Teams or Slack all day; in others it might be better to save questions for a regular Zoom call. Don’t guess, just ask! Hopefully your new supervisor and coworkers will understand that this is a weird situation and be ready to help you acclimate.

      1. Stella*

        Asking about communication methods is a really great point and also realize that you may have some false starts. I started at two new part-time jobs at a college in April. With one supervisor, all the details were laid out about when and how to communicate with the team. With the other, it took a lot of back and forth with the supervisor to figure out the best method of communicating for projects. I think we went through 3 methods of communication before settling on something that worked.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      I like the work buddy thing. My old job had a mentor program. I would say even if it’s not a formal thing that HR does, reach out to your supervisor or boss and ask if there is someone who you could buddy with to ask questions, etc.

    4. Joielle*

      My department recently hired a couple of people and I was assigned to one of them as a “peer mentor” – basically the “orientation buddy” role you describe. I think it’s a great idea! I made it very clear to the new employee that they’re welcome to IM or email me anytime with any questions – no question too small. And I’m usually not in meetings, so they’re not interrupting me if they get in touch. We’ve also had a couple of video calls to virtually “meet” and informally talk about different topics. I think it’s working well!

  7. M*

    As someone who started remotely, with a relocation expecting to go in once or twice a week, and then full time in January, later finding out it’s not until July…

    I recommend lots of video chats, communicate/encourage relationships via whatever chat function is used. Whatever onboarding or training is done in groups, reach out to others in the group with you, even during the training to make a connection.

    I also encourage regularly scheduled check-ins with your boss (in person, too, but it’s even more important now).

    Good luck! It can be done!

  8. Been There*

    Congratulations! That’s awesome that you found a role, especially during all of this COVID craziness. You’re giving me hope :)

    My last job was 100% remote before COVID. What worked for me was checking in frequently. I started right in the height of their busy season and if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn because of the natural out-of-site, out-of-mind that just happens when people are really busy. Plus it gave me the opportunity to build those relationships.

    You don’t have to do it every hour, but a few times a day if no one is reaching out to you. Once you get to know people and the job, things will just start flowing, but I remember my first couple of weeks were kind of awkward because if I hadn’t reached out, I would have just been netflixing all day and that made me uncomfortable.

    Good luck and congratulations again!

  9. kt_lo*

    I was recently in this same position, starting a new role remotely about 3 months ago, and my best advice is to be aware of and manage your anxiety. For me, the hardest part was being alone with my thoughts so often–normally you are distracted by setting up your cube or learning your way around the building or grabbing coffee with coworkers, but without those things I had tons of time for my brain to run wild with worries about whether I was doing enough or doing a good job, what I should be working on, if the questions I was asking were dumb, and how I would ever get up to speed. New jobs are hard and a steep learning curve is always part of it, so try to take it easy on yourself (especially in 2020!) and see the bigger/ truer picture. I also recommend setting up a 1×1 call with every member of your team to say hi and talk about their role, even if you won’t really ever have to work with them directly. Now that I’m a bit further in, I can see that most of my worry was totally unnecessary and unhelpful and that I did just fine in a tough situation. I’m sure you will too!

    1. OP - first job*

      Thanks! I’m definitely someone who struggles with anxiety too and so knowing that I’m not the only person worrying about these kinds of things is a great way to put things in perspective. I’m really glad it turned out well for you

    2. Kazul*

      This happened to me too! I couldn’t figure out why I was so anxious about everything when I started a new job recently. I think you’re right that having so much time alone to overthink things adds an extra layer of anxiety. It’s always hard to gauge how you’re doing at first, and especially when you’re trying to interpret comments via IM—so regular calls can definitely help.

      I think asking lots of questions in the first few weeks about workplace norms and how those have shifted during COVID-19 can be helpful, so you can quickly learn how people like to communicate. I’ve also been scheduling the occasional social call (virtual tea/coffee/walk while chatting) with close colleagues, so we can get to know each other and make up for some of the informal interactions that we’re missing by not being in the office. (I’m often hesitant to ask people to make time for things like that, since I don’t want to impose, but starting out remote gives you a very logical opening & excuse for doing so!)

  10. Roscoe*

    I started my new job right when Covid hit, late March. Was supposed to be in an office, then all of a sudden I wasn’t.

    While this isn’t something you can do, a lot depends on how your new company handles your onboarding. How often will you get the chance to meet other people. If its not built in, maybe ask your manager if they can help facilitate scheduling informal “get to know you” meetings with other staff members. Just like 15 minutes or so.

    Also, just know that it will feel weird for a while, but it gets better over time. IF your company has slack channels, join some and participate.

  11. Ronit*

    Ask the hiring manager or HR what your training schedule will look like- see if they are setting up meetings for you to meet your teammates, supervisors, management level folks (as appropriate, depending on size of the company). As the HR person in my company, when I have been hiring folks during COVID, I’m trying to balance the time they need to spend on mandatory training with a computer, training with real humans, and opportunities to attend meetings, and just schedule time to get to know folks in the office. It’s hard, but if the organization is supportive and receptive, you should be ok! Good luck!

  12. No Regerts*

    I just did this in mid-Sept and so far it’s going really well.

    First off, go back and read the general remote work tips to help you figure out how to set good habits. I’m 20+ years into my career and have worked remotely since the pandemic and at various other points in my career, but a new job was a good opportunity to reset some of the less useful habits I’d let creep in (I say during my 5 min pomodoro timer break…)

    What was very helpful for me was the dedicated one on one time with my manager via video chat. She’s good about having not just training discussion, but a reasonable amount of get-to-know you type chit chat in there. I also did one on one video calls with everyone in my new department. Some chose to keep it very work focused, and some chatted almost entirely about non-work things. Both were helpful, and as I’ve been getting to actual work I’ve been trying to set up video calls when someone is giving me something to work on rather than just doing it through email. Taking a few minutes at the start of each call for chit chat (pets, weather, work from home situations) also helps me get to know people a little more. But if you start feeling isolated and weird, reach out to someone and set up a call to ask them more about what they do or more about how your role interacts with theirs.

  13. garibaldi*

    Someone in my department started in similar circumstances about a month ago – they interviewed remotely and they haven’t been to our office once yet! I thought they handled it beautifully. They made an effort to set up meetings with different teams in our department to introduce themselves, and we were able to introduce ourselves. They also set up additional one-on-ones with individuals who had work that closely aligned with theirs, to learn more about processes and common hurdles etc.

    We have a Teams group chat that is more of a general message board – a place to post exciting personal updates, ask basic work questions to a range of people, etc. Our new hire has been great about participating in this chat and that has been a handy way to get to know them.

  14. Green great dragon*

    Find other newish people in the company and make links. Maybe it’s the sort of place that would totally support a ‘new joiners’ group on work time, which got together and supported each other and asked slightly less new people to come along and talk to them about work-related things and company-specific tips (ask your boss). Maybe it’s not, in which case have a chat over your lunch break once a fortnight. I know plenty of people in my company now but my informal ‘other people who got promoted when I did’ group is a lifesaver, for good advice, knowledgeable listening ears and occasional useful challenge.

    1. OP - first job*

      It’s a pretty small department but I think there will be at least one new starter – hopefully we can help each other

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Yes! Since you happen to have another new person at the same time, lean into that relationship (as long as they’re a kind and competent person!). When I worked a fully remote role, the person who started the same day as me (and had the same job, in a different region) became my most important relationship. We shared ideas, raised questions, checked in, used each other as a first check point with problems.

        I was lucky that my “start day” colleague was incredibly talented; she raised my game. And eight years later, both of us having moved on to different jobs and still living 2,000 miles away, she’s a close friend and one of the most important people in my network. We still have monthly calls — we’re talking tomorrow morning!

      2. Green great dragon*

        Definitely. But you can reach out to people in other departments too, it’s a great way to get a wider perspective.

  15. De Minimis*

    Hopefully there will be regular check-in meetings, and I agree that one-on-one is ideal.
    Try to be pro-active in communications with everyone. I started a job in April and have never met most of my coworkers (met my boss when I had to pick up a laptop.) It can be difficult and isolating. If you can forge some type of connection with someone it can really help. If there is anyone else who is also new that’s a good opportunity.
    For me it really has been tough, it wasn’t the best work environment to begin with (this is a different location but a previous employer for me so I kind of know the culture) but working remotely has made a lot of the problems worse.

  16. Mel_05*

    It will probably be hard to get to know people like you would in an office.

    My job wasn’t remote before covid, but we had multiple sites, so there were only about 10 people I actually saw every day. And there were only 5 who I worked closely with. Everyone else I only know from our project interactions. I do have a vague idea of their personality, but not like my in-office coworkers.

    Now, for people I’m on a team with, we do have zoom chats. Those are people I already know, but if someone new was added to our team, we’d chat with them on there to get to know them better.

    But, I think it really will be quite different and it’s good to go in knowing that.

  17. Sleepy*

    I’ve had a new intern and a new coworker start remotely in the past month. It feels a little awkward and distant, but I don’t think there’s a way around that.

    I recommend having really excellent digital habits–respond to every email on time, have a mastery of your tools so you don’t get bogged down in tech issues. It sounds like a little thing, but how you show up digitally will shape people’s impression of you, esp those who don’t work with you closely. And if there are any Zoom happy hours or lunches, be sure to show up. Yes, they should be truly optional, but I would treat them as mandatory for the first few months. It’s really the best chance you’ll have to build relationships.

  18. Worklifebalance*

    Make an hourly schedule for yourself. This was really helpful for me to schedule in breaks and how to spread out my work load and get into a rhythm of my day. If you can, set up one space to do your work and try to keep it there. If you need a change of scenery set an alternative location.

    Get dressed every day. Even if you don’t have a meeting. Put on something comfortable but work appropriate. I’m back to work in person but I always, even when working from home, subscribe to the Mr. Rogers’ method. I change my clothes and make that transition between work and home life. Even when I was home all day. That physical change helps me separate my time and energy and let go at the end of each day and truly relax in my space.

    1. OP - first job*

      IEven though I don’t start for a bit, I’ve already started dressing up every day just to get used to it. My previous job was in a lab and was quite manual so I’ve having to make the transition away from safety boots and filthy jeans!

  19. Mayor of Llamatown*

    I have worked 100% remotely for over 5 years, so I feel like I have a long-range perspective on this.

    Be proactive about “meeting” people. Set up time for calls to get to know them and their work, the way you might meet with colleagues to learn more about their role. Even if you don’t have a ton of questions, just meet with people to say hi and get to know them.

    See if your manager will send out information about you – write up a blurb for them about your professional background, the kind of info you would share at a team meeting. Include a professional shot if you had one.

    Mostly, just be really proactive about introductions, getting to know people, and learning about the role.

  20. Momma Bear*

    I didn’t start in a pandemic, but I had a FT remote job for 4 years and PT remote for 3.

    Before you start, make sure you have a set up for your office, the right computer/monitor setup, and compatible software. Know who to contact in IT if you have issues getting set up, especially if you have to install their VPN or something to even get connected to the office.

    Presumably there will be an introduction to your boss/team. Find out what tools are used to communicate – will it be Teams and if so, just chat or chat and calls or chat calls and video? Is there a Slack channel? Do people prefer email? Like most offices, you will figure out the norms. Most companies that have a large remote workforce have something akin to Skype/Teams/Zoom that they use. Have you ever had a customer or coworker in another office building? I felt it was kind of like that. I am physically in an office, but if I want to reach out to my coworker in another state, I use the same tools that I do when working remotely.

    If you are onboarding a remote employee, making sure they are invited to everything they need is a really good step. Give them contact information for other team members and help them navigate the network. You will probably know how effective they are by seeing their work output, hearing them on meetings, and interacting with your existing team (do they complain about not being able to reach this person?). We had a guy who took advantage of the WFH and part of the problem was that he was not available during core hours – for hours at a time. If this person is slacking, you will know. Maybe set up a touch point meeting once or twice in the first weeks to specifically go over how things are going outside of what’s discussed in the scrum.

    Something that is kind of a bummer when you are remote is missing out on things like team lunches or team holiday gatherings. If there are any ways to bring the team together for something fun now and then and basically make everyone not feel like ships at sea, that would be great. What that looks like will depend on your team/company. I was always kind of sad about seeing the holiday parties I couldn’t attend, and having the afternoon off on the same day would have been nice. Some of that can’t be done right now, but for the future….

  21. Build Trust*

    Currently onboarding a new employee (first week) working remotely due to COVID. There is no immediate plan to return to the workplace this year, however it is a dispersed team so we all sit in different offices/states and do a lot via zoom anyway. I set the expectation that it is practice of my group to use video, even if other colleagues do not. I also argued with HR that this position could be done 100% remotely, but the company wasn’t quite ready for that and required an assigned location even though there was no need for it. Frankly it felt like a 2017 problem and not a 2021 solution.

    For the first week (going into the second week) I’ve set up a number of introductory meetings via zoom with other colleagues for my new hire. I join those meetings initially to make a formal introduction. I have created extensive reference materials for projects using collaboration tools. I also try to “overcommunicate” about what my day looks like, when I’m available, leave for the day, etc. This is a mid-high level position so my expectation is that there doesn’t need to be a lot of handholding around saying goodbye at the end of the day etc. But this is also my management style. I do have daily check ins with her at the start of each day to go over where she is in the onboarding process, training materials, who she is meeting in the introductory conversations, and why, etc.

    My very large multinational company had already put so much of their training, onboarding, etc. info on-line that it didn’t feel like a huge difference to me as a manger. This is obviously going to be different for a smaller organization. As this new hire was assigned to a completely different office than her colleagues, management, business partners, project stakeholders, meetings and work would have been done via collab tools anyway. Really the only difference I’ve felt so far is that there is no building and safety tour, no taking a photo for your badge, etc.

  22. Silly Goose*

    Try to introduce yourself to people as much as you can. Ask people’s background. If you don’t have some sort of person training you, ask your supervisor if there is somebody who can be tagged to “take you around” virtually to introduce you to people and make sure you get put into any meetings you should be involved in – even if it’s just for situational awareness kinds of things.

    Good luck!

  23. SummerBee*

    I hired a new team member this year whose onboarding has been 100% remote. We’ve tried to emphasize having introduction meetings to all the colleagues she’ll work with frequently, and our management has been good about organizing team chats and Zoom calls to maintain social connections, but there have been some challenges, including for me as her manager trying to remember who she knows and doesn’t know. For one project, I wanted to direct her to the person who will eventually sit in the cubicle next to hers in our physical office, so said a quick, “Oh, talk to M. about that,” not realizing that they had never been introduced or spoken to each other before.

    One thing that worked well was having the new employee keep a running list of questions during all the meetings she attended – background to projects and decisions, corporate standard practices, but also basic thinks like acronyms or industry jargon, and then we’d go through them rapid-fire in weekly meetings. It helped her listen actively during meetings, and was fun for me because I realize I actually know a lot about my field!

  24. Camellia*

    May I say that my office is awesome at on-boarding? We have volunteer “buddies” assigned to each new person (yes, I am one) to interact with them, be available for questions, take them to lunch or coffee (when we were in the office), and there’s also a whole set of activities they have to complete, designed to show them where to find information, how to do stuff, and so forth. It’s really made a difference!

  25. Nanc*

    Congrats on the new job! You mention you’re at a University. If they have any sort of Intranet fill out your profile ASAP and list not only your background, but areas of expertise. And poke around and look at other profiles–it will help you get to know your colleagues.
    University’s usually have a checklist of onboarding procedures which can be anything from a few hours to a few days.
    If they are providing a computer, etc., ask for any accessories you think you might need. Extra power cord (I hate having to carry the power cord back and forth when I’m taking my computer home), wireless headphones (same thing–I hate carrying them back and forth) if you don’t have them, anything you can think of that they might supply. Hard to say with budgets these days but it never hurts to ask.
    Keep us posted on how it goes!

    1. OP - first job*

      That’s a really helpful thought about computer accessories. I know they’re providing a laptop but might also ask for a keyboard so I can have the screen at eye level

      1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

        It’s also worth asking if they actually provide a separate full-size monitor: if you are working on spreadsheets or collating information from multiple sources it’s much easier to work with a big screen.

  26. Chloe the no-longer Project Manager*

    I’m literally doing this RIGHT NOW. This is my first week at a new job and am working remote with a boss and coworker in completely different time zones.

    My suggestions are:
    1 ) Have IT on speed dial because you will probably have lots of questions related to what software and equipment you need and getting permissions to have it set up. I have never had a computer 100% set up correctly for my position and doing it remotely takes more time.
    2) Don’t fret the first week, everyone knows on boarding is slow to begin with and doing it remotely even more so. You won’t necessarily be busy every day and THAT’S OK!
    3) Don’t be afraid to ask questions to coworkers and your boss. But don’t expect an answer right away either. It may take a minute.
    4) Try to have your workspace set up as quickly as possible. It will make it feel more like WORK SPACE and place for you to go every day. So when/if you do transition back to office life it will be slightly less jarring.

  27. Roeslein*

    Starting a new job in a few weeks and feeling a little anxious about not having met anyone in person, looking forward to the advice of the commentariat!

  28. Kopper*

    I was just in the same boat. I found scheduling regular calls with my manager and also scheduling “get to know you” calls with my teammates really helped. And also don’t be shy to pick up the phone when you have a question. It is harder to get a sense of team culture because you’re not in the office and able to ask quick questions or hear how your colleagues interact with each other to solve problems, but it is doable. I am lucky that I have a very sociable manager who has a daily team call that is a combination of work and the kind of chit chat you have in the office about life in general. Good luck!

  29. Jeff*

    If there’s a chat system, join more chat rooms than is strictly the norm – you can always trim down later. Especially join relevant social channels, if they exist (pets and parents and music are three super common ones)

    Establish the core hours you’ll be in front of the computer, and answer communications quickly during those periods. (This can be toned down after you get a rep for responsiveness).

    Find a peer coworker and check their calendar for pertinent meetings you might not have yet been invited to.

    Be the first one to unmute video, say hi as a meeting is started, etc.

    Don’t ever let yourself get blocked on work without raising it to your team or boss. Letting yourself get blocked for a week without letting coworkers with more experience try to help (or retask you) is an easy way to get seen as a slacker, as unfair as it might be.

  30. SaffyTaffy*

    We’re onboarding a remote employee now, and one thing she’s doing that I really like is compiling questions that can wait until the end of the day, and then sending them to me. I answer them for her to review first-thing the next morning. We still chat through the day, but it’s a good way to keep information organized.

  31. CMR*

    Congratulations! I was the hiring manager for someone onboarding completely remotely. It’s definitely a unique situation but not a total disaster. Hopefully your direct supervisor takes an active approach in getting you oriented into the position and introduced to colleagues. My new hire is, unfortunately, missing the connections you make with individuals face-to-face but I feel like the orientation has gone well. I did meet with them on the first day, as it was important to me to be able to have a face to their new supervisor. This individual was agreeable and we did so in a safe manner (masks, distanced) and it was helpful because we fired up their laptop together and made sure all the tools were working (Teams, Zoom, email, etc). If they didn’t feel comfortable, I would have conducted our first meeting remotely. Following the first day, I setup frequent video check-ins, whether to show a process, explain a bit about the organization, or just to catchup and chat. I setup “meet and greet” video calls with various managers and staff. Our initial meetings were frequent and over time, naturally tapered off as they became more comfortable with the work and able to complete items on their own. My strongest recommendation is to be open and honest with your supervisor. I think the biggest risk for a new employee is feeling disconnected or loss – not knowing workflows, who is who, how to respond to requests, etc – and if you start to experience that, let your supervisor know early. Propose options that will work for you – daily phone calls, recurring video check-ins, networking with colleagues that can mentor you on certain products, etc. The new employee I onboarded is pretty much flying solo but every few weeks, I reach out and let them know I’m still available and recognition our frequent check-ins have concluded but if ever needed, we can start them up again. This new employee is probably not trained in as many processes as they might be if we were in the office, so I would conclude remote orientation takes more time, but it’s at a very acceptable pace and par for the course with the current situation.

  32. Lucette Kensack*

    Really invest in relationships. This is true when you’re starting any job, but it’s doubly (or more) true in a remote role. Set up one-on-ones with everyone that you’re going to work with directly. Ask each of them for the names of other folks you should have one-on-ones with. The point of these conversations is maybe 20% understanding the lay of the land at work — what do they do? how can your role enable or stifle their work? — and 80% laying the foundation for the working relationships you want to have with them.

  33. Belle of the Midwest*

    First of all, congratulations to you on landing a job in this surreal time we are in. I work for a university and we have an intern this semester and will be adding another intern in January–and their work is all remote. (I keep saying when this is over we need to do conference presentations on what we learned the hard way during remote hiring and onboarding.)

    Secondly, I expect that whoever is in charge of showing you the ropes and getting your initial training going will have some kind of schedule laid out for you that might consist of a combination of online meetings and “shadowing” or sitting in with others who do the work you will be doing. Whatever software or programming they use–and you can ask about that beforehand–get familiar with it if you can before you start. If it’s Zoom, for example, you can get a personal account and use it for free for about 40 minutes per meeting, and just practice with it by talking to family and friends. It has a lot of buttons and features that you might not catch when you are also trying to learn a new job. If you won’t get the platform until you start the job, ask if you can have some time to practice once you are onboard.

    Also, make sure you have the name, phone number, Skype ID, and email of your workplace IT or tech support folks. They should be able to talk you through everything from remote desktop workarounds to specs for at-home technology if you need to use your own computer.

    Good luck to you and I hope you will update us with how it’s going once you start the new job. Again, congratulations and well done!

  34. AnonEMoose*

    I’ve been involved in training people from time to time, and I think one of the most challenging things, especially with someone new to the workforce, is remembering to tell them the things that are really engrained in me, but not obvious to someone new, and that they lack the experience to ask. It’s a gap I try to be conscientious about addressing.

    These would be things like office/company culture and norms, but other issues, too. Don’t be afraid to ask whoever is training you to back up a moment, and help you understand if something isn’t making sense. Be as specific as you can about making sense. Also ask about the reasons a process is the way it is, “Can you help me understand why we do it this way? That helps me remember the process.” Because sometimes, processes are done a certain way because they affect processes in other areas – that’s certainly true in my job.

    And take notes. A lot of notes. Not so much that it distracts you from paying attention to the training. But enough to be able to refer to in a way that will help you remember what to do after training is done. Take particular note of places to find information on the company’s internal website (if there is one).

    You’re probably going to feel dumb or at least on information overload for awhile. That’s ok. You’re not dumb, you’re trying to process a LOT of information, and because you’re new, you can’t just do the task, you have to think about HOW to do the task, plus doing the task. You’re probably going to be tired and overwhelmed, and if you’re an introvert, a bit on the “AHHH…TOO MUCH PEOPLE!” side of things for a bit. That’s also normal. Try to be good to yourself where you can, and plan to relax after work if you can. Eat a good meal, exercise, take down time, whatever works for you.

    Things are just weird for everyone right now, be kind to yourself. And best of luck in your new job!

  35. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I just started a WFH analyst job at a Fortune 500 company two weeks ago. My advice is to expect that things, especially on the technological side, might be a bit more disorganized/drawn out than if you were in the office. It took me a whole week before I could even log into my laptop because they couldn’t get my VPN access set up correctly. I was really freaked out at first but friends and some commenters here talked me off the ledge and helped me to reset my expectations; to not see it as red flags but just a something that can happen when everyone involved in the process from employee to manager to IT is fully remote and not in the same time zone.

  36. cleo*

    Agree about asking if there are any informal / random channels or chats. And I’d also ask if there are any regular virtual socializing things like happy hours or coffee hours. Those also tend to be less official and not make it into on boarding but are good ways to meet people.

  37. Bookworm*

    Hi OP! Congrats on your new job!!

    I’ve gained a couple of new colleagues where their onboarding and job thus far has been entirely remote, which was absolutely not the intention. Some tips from someone who has watched all this and was already working remotely before they joined:

    -Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As with any new job there will be lots you won’t know and in this situation your co-workers may simply forget. Not intentionally at all, but COVID does things so they may simply forget to pass along any queries you have.

    -Take advantage of Slack/Zoom/whatever your communications preferences are now. Feel free to ask what people prefer (some prefer Zoom, some prefer email, some prefer Slack, etc.) for contact. If it’s not already done for you, suggest having one on one meetings with co-workers to get to know each other: 15 minutes or so where you can ask questions like how you relate specifically to that person (ie, do they oversee you, are they a good person if you need help with X, etc.).

    -Keep in mind that this is new for EVERYONE, everywhere. No one has had the experience of trying to survive through a pandemic so this related to my first point: this is a learning experience for everybody involved. Cut yourself, your co-workers, etc. some slack. Of course, they shouldn’t scream at you if they’re stressed or something, but right now we all need a little more grace and flexibility.

    -Hope this helps! Give yourself time to adjust. It’ll be weird knowing that you’ve not met your colleagues except via video/calls so don’t be too hard on yourself. Good luck!

  38. ThePear8*

    I started what was supposed to be an in-person internship remotely this summer. I think by now most places have more established onboarding practices for remote, when I started back in end of May things were still kind of chaos and a lot fell through the cracks. My advice is: ask questions! Depending on how established your new company is with onboarding/orientation, you may still be missing key information and it’s totally okay to ask. When do I get paid? Who do I talk to for questions about X? What software should I use for Y? How do I submit an IT ticket? etc.
    As for connecting with people, this is something I’ve been wondering about myself…it’s definitely harder remotely because you can’t just pass by someone’s desk for a quick question or make small talk or invite someone out for a coffee or something, all communication has to be deliberate, not as much organic, so it’s tough. So far what I’ve done is try to participate in company social events when I can (things like bingo games every other week, and once my team played Among Us together which was great). My company also has a few “fun” slack channels for things like chatting about coffee and pets. I’ve been pretty active in the pets channel posting pictures of my dog and sort of bonded with a few people there over our dog pictures, even though they’re all on different teams and we don’t work together, it’s just a nice bit of socializing I’m otherwise missing. So explore what channels your company has that maybe allow people to get in a little non-work-related chatter/activities.

  39. Jennifer*

    I was in the same situation a few months ago. I would say if there is a slack channel or anything similar for the team definitely participate as much as you are comfortable doing. Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers about the culture or any background on the company, the kind of insider info you wouldn’t get from a Google search. There will likely be others in the same boat already or in the coming weeks. Best wishes!

  40. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    If you are in chat with other people, don’t talk over them. Don’t be obnoxious. Don’t be a know it all. Listen to those training you and those you are training with.

  41. Rafflesia Reaper*

    I was onboarded to a 100% remote company early in the creation of my team, and I set up a 15 minute one-on-one meeting with each of my new peers as they joined. My other more senior peers did as well. Just a “virtual cubicle neighbor checkin” to formally introduce ourselves, share dog pics, and answer all of those questions you might not want to ask your boss. It really opened communications and we’ve all had really good feedback about the process.

  42. LMM*

    These short chats were really useful to me when I started a new job! This is great advice. Helps you meet people beyond your team throughout your organization, and they’ll remember you as the person who came to them for advice when you need their help with something.

  43. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    When I’m working with folks in other offices, I find that I first use email etc to answer specific work related questions or whatever and that goes just fine. But when I get really specific about my thank you, and tuck a personable comment at the end of the interaction, there’s room for relationship building.
    “Thanks, Fergus, you explained that process much better than anyone else I’ve asked! I hope you’re going to get better weather this weekend than we are. ” And then, if he wants, Fergus can just say “you’re welcome” or he can say “yup, they say it’ll be sunny all Saturday” and that’s when you start chatting about your gardening or your outdoor activities. Once that seal is broken, I find it much easier to reach out by phone or whatever for a wider ranging relationship.

  44. MsMeercat*

    Hi OP, first of all congratulations on your new job, that’s amazing!
    Secondly, I also started a new job completely remote in July, so I feel for you. For one I can tell you, now being a few months in, that it gets better – at the beginning you might feel super lonely and so (so so, sigh) lost on office norms, but I can now say that even the colleagues I really only interact with in work-related convos (many of them, while warm people, aren’t very big on making an effort to connect personally while remote), I do feel more connected and integrated now. And that is, even though a) I’m doing interpersonal comms in my third language that I don’t have full fluency in yet, b) it’s my first office job in a country I only moved to in January, and c) I received zero onboarding, and my manager is that in name only, aka he has communicated to me the projects I do, and checks some of my work, but doesn’t manage at all. So, here are a few tips that I wish I would have done or that should work with even an only slightly more engaged manager than mine, and/or that I know from my previous remote role:

    – Your manager is probably thinking about onboarding already, and is aware of your situation. If it doesn’t come out, or if there are things that would additionally help, ask your manager for help – ask them to help you meet people, make connections, point out who is who, to stay 5 mins longer on a call to maybe debrief a meeting that you’ve had etc.
    – If it’s not already set up, do meet and greets with people; say something like “hey, I’m completely new, would love to meet more people, I heard you’re involved in X, would you mind jumping on a 15 mins call to get to know each other and what we do?” – I have yet to meet someone who said no to that.
    – Ask for “homework” – many companies have shared drives, intranet, wikis etc. Often – not in my current case, but often – you may end up with some spare time while things are ramping up; ask where you can go on a reading tour, as going through folders, documents, etc. will help you get a feel for the place and context.
    – The first document I create at any new job is what I call ‘starter notes’ – I take lots of notes in meetings, dump questions in there, keywords, whatever comes up; often it helps me to get back to them at a later point (you may even be able to develop some fresh ideas to improve a process or something you’re doing based off that initial ‘huh’ starting point)

    I hope this will help and best of luck!

  45. I'm just here for the cats*

    University staff here and I’ve been working from home off and on since March. I would say be as well organized as you can be. Plan out your days in advance if you know what’s being expected of you or what you need to be doing. Find out if there is a person you can contact if you have issues, and make sure you have more than just a chat or email. Working from home, you never know if you’re going to experience a tech issue and you might need to talk to someone on the phone. I remember my first day and it wasn’t until the afternoon that IT got my username and stuff set up. Also find out what resources there are for you such as IT, a mentor, or a senior member of the team. Find out if there are any team chats or anything that you should be included in so you can introduce yourself to your co-workers.
    I also recommend that you set up a space for your “office”. It doesn’t need to be a separate room or anything, but just a designated spot. I’ve found it easier to transition from home to work when there is a specific place for me. I also did an end of day routine where I would put my work laptop, papers, etc away and then take a walk or something to transition away from work. It can be very tempting to keep working when you should be done for the day. One more email turns into 2 hours of work.
    I hope you have a good first day!

  46. HermitCrab*

    Lot’s of great feedback here so I won’t repeat it. One additional thing I’d recommend is remembering that people can’t ‘see’ you unless you’re around. There’s no water cooler moments anymore. I try to post to Slack or whatever the conversational/engagement tool is being used once a day. Answer a question, ask a question, add a link to a relevant article. This helps you be a part of the conversation, and shows your manager that you are working on being a ‘part of the team’. Think of it as a to-do if it doesn’t come naturally.

    In addition to 1:1’s with team members, ask if you can have a virtual coffee break with one person from each department. This is so you can network and get introductions, and also get a download on what each person does in their own words. It’s super hard to get to know people outside of your own team otherwise and it’s worth it in my experience.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with checking in on Slack, Teams, or whatever platform the company uses once a day just to say hi. I’m a manager and it’s helpful when team members do that. It helps us all feel a little more connected and like the team actually exists.

      Also, I have everyone put any planned time off on the shared Outlook calendar I created for the department and to make sure they’re using the “out of office” reply.

      None of this is so I can track their time or their whereabouts every minute of the day. It’s we’re all aware of who is and isn’t at work that day, or who’s planning vacation when so they can work around it or make sure they get X item from that person before they leave. Working remotely, we can’t just walk over and see if someone is there so the calendar and out of office replies make it easy.

  47. ES*

    As a manager, I’ve had two new hires start in the past two months, joining an otherwise long-tenured team all working remotely. I did not meet them in person at all during the interview process. They are doing great but it is hard to connect. I had “team lunches” to welcome them where I send everyone Grubhub/UberEats/Postmates etc. credit and they can order a meal, we eat over Zoom and talk about non-work stuff. We’re very busy so that helps–they have plenty of work coming to them. Most recently, I met up (socially distanced of course) with the new hires while the weather is still nice — went for a bike ride with one, met on a coffee shop patio with another. It was a good way to say hello and I hope make them feel a little more connected.

    One of them joked that he was glad to see our workplace is not just a simulation in which he’s interacting on Zoom with a bunch of holograms programmed by an advanced intelligence :)

  48. TiredMama*

    My tips:
    (1) Morning routine is key. Try to get up at the same time everyday, make your bed, brush your teeth, change your clothes.
    (2) Do what you can to create an office set-up. De-clutter as best you can.
    (3) Try to talk with people on the phone, but ask for a time to call before doing so. “Hey, I have a question about x, may I call you in 10 minutes to discuss? Let me know if there is a better time.

  49. ELK*

    My team just hired a new business analyst, and like you, he’s younger than the rest of us (but does have a few years’ workplace experience). My advice to you, working remotely, is participate willingly and openly in every opportunity you are given to get to know your team members AS PEOPLE. Working remotely makes the human part of the workplace much harder, and you have to be intentional about it. Ask for daily Zoom meetings, ask your new co-workers if they would be willing to take time to explain what they do on the team, and use the opportunity to just chat some, if they are open to it. Ask your manager to help you find and schedule time for your team to just TALK. Our new guy has done those things and we are grateful, because we’re also wanting his transition to be as painless as possible.

  50. Richard*

    I’m appreciating the advice here, too. I just started a new job remotely, and it’s a part time job supporting full time people that are generally overworked (that’s why I was hired!) but it’s been really awkward to get any relatively casual talk time with anyone since they’re so busy. I’m hoping it gets better, but most people don’t want to linger after meetings or set up any 1-on-1 time to chat. I’ll realistically have to stick around until we’re back in person to make better personal connections.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Ask for 15 minutes max, when you start re-iterate that it’s a short call, have 2 or 3 questions about what they do, and wrap up at 11 minutes. People love ending early and they’ll have a good impression off you, and they’ll be that much more willing to have another meeting with you.

  51. Friendly Neighborhood Admin*

    Connect with the administrative assistant that works with your team. I work in higher ed, and have managed the interview process for four employees that applied, were interviewed, and began full-time positions all remotely during COVID. It can be done – and the admin (likely the person that was your contact during the interview process, if it wasn’t HR directly) is the person that will help you through this.

    The new employee’s manager gives me a list of all of the key people the new hire needs to meet in the first few weeks, and I schedule 15- to 30-minute Zoom meet and greets with the list. I ask our colleagues to come prepared to share what you do, how your department works with everyone else, etc. New employees have mentioned that this gauntlet can be a bit of a whirlwind, but ultimately is incredibly helpful to match names with faces with responsibilities before their job really ramps up.

    I am also my division’s policy/procedure/question person, so I send an email to the new hire within the first couple of days with information on payroll, how to submit IT tickets, where to park if you come to the office…all that day-to-day stuff. Make a list of these kind of things as you think of them so you get all of your questions answered. We have a division intranet where I keep this kind of information updated and available to all staff; see if there’s a handbook or website that does the same in your org.

    Ask your manager how your team best communicates – email, text, Slack, Teams – and ask for help getting up and running on this quickly. Ask your manager or a peer to add you to any recurring meetings that the team/department/division may have. Ask your manager if there’s an org chart available.

    If you are a manager, reach out to your new team members and set up 1:1’s in your first week or so if your admin hasn’t done so already. You probably met a handful of people during the interview process but it’s good to get some separate time with those you will work with most directly.

    And finally – ask a lot of questions and take a lot of notes! I wish you the best of luck and congratulations on the job!

  52. ANC*

    I had two employees join days before lock down. Please express (after a few weeks/months depending on how good your company culture is) that you really miss building relationships. As a manager I’ve gone out of my way to send hand written letters and small gift cards through the year. We’ve had 1-2 opportunities to meet up for socially distanced projects (small promotional videos) that I’d usually attend but gave up my place so new members could join- purely for bonding purposes- he had little to really do that day. I hope managers are helping out.

  53. SS Express*

    I started a new job a few months ago that has been 100% remote – same organisation, but entirely separate department where I didn’t know anyone – and it’s been going really well!

    Things that I think have helped: being really friendly via phone/chat/email/zoom (this is my natural personality anyway but it sure helps build remote relationships quickly), making room for jokes and personal conversations to build rapport, taking the opportunity to call/talk with someone when I can, and also being mindful about not pestering people with too many questions at the start. In an office it’s usually no big deal to ask the person next to you for help throughout the day when you can see they’re not too busy, but calling/emailing and potentially interrupting someone’s work is a bit more intrusive so I resigned myself to occasionally sitting around twiddling my thumbs – if you can see when someone is online/available this can help, otherwise just prioritise what you really need to ask about or save things up for a daily check in etc.

    We’ve also had a few virtual team building activities which are not usually my jam but people in my new department seem to genuinely like it (worth noting this is a marketing/PR type field), so I’ve made the effort to participate while I’m getting to know everyone. I begrudgingly admit it is actually kind of fun anyway.

  54. Baker's dozen*

    I’m going to be starting a new job 100% remote in the new month or so. Lots of the advice is really helpful, thanks. My specific thing I’m worried about is the fact there was an internal candidate who was passed over. That’s always a tricky dynamic but it feels extra hard to build up a positive working relationship with them without being face to face at any point. Any ideas?

  55. Lavender Menace*

    I’ve had to onboard a few new people since the pandemic started. It’s difficult!

    -Your manager should set up more regular syncs with you in the beginning of your time there, but if they don’t, you may want to request more regular syncs yourself. Normally, when a new person starts I meet with them twice a week for a few weeks, then pare it down to once. But in the pandemic, you don’t have the in-person socialization to meet new people, nor do you have the chance meetings and walk-bys that your manager might do – so I think I’d increase it to three short meetings a week just to increase frequency of a familiar face.

    -Ask your manager for help setting up meetings with other people on your team so you can get to know them! Those can either be 1:1s or small group meetings, ideally a mix of both.

    -Ask for a mentor or onboarding buddy, if your team doesn’t already assign you one. This should be someone who isn’t in your reporting structure, who’s been there longer than you (ideally at least a year), and can answer questions and give advice from a different perspective than your manager’s.

    -Don’t join all the Slack channels right away. You’ll be overwhelmed with notifications. (But do join some of the fun ones so you can observe how your coworkers interact. Just some, though.)

    -Speaking of Slack, ask your manager what’s the best and the fastest way to get a hold of her if you need her. Does she prefer email, or is she on the team’s messenger service all day? (I tell my folks I am way easier to reach on our chat channels than on email.) Similarly, ask her if she has a sense of that for the rest of the team.

    -Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid of “bugging” your manager; she’s there to help you succeed. Ask. If you’re even a little unsure, ask! I promise we’d much rather have you ask than confused and frustrated by yourself.

    -Don’t get frustrated with yourself if you take a while to catch on to certain tasks or to the new job in general. Onboarding a new job is already stressful enough, but it’s especially difficult in the pandemic, when you can’t meet people face to face and observe their body language and non-verbal communication. It’s totally normal to feel a little bit sluggish, so give yourself some grace.

  56. Foxgloves*

    I started a job remotely in May. The thing that helped me most was having a 15 call with everyone in my 25 person department, just to say hi, introduce myself, and learn about how our roles might interact. It was so useful! Awkward at times, sure, and a LOT of Zoom, but it made me feel much better knowing who everyone was. For my first two weeks, I had a 30 min call scheduled with my line manager first thing in the morning every other day, so he could check in on how I was doing/ what I had on that day/ an opportunity for questions/ etc. I also had a couple of early check ins with the department administrator, who was an absolute angel with getting me sorted with the random bits and pieces.

    I was lucky that I moved within my organisation (but to a part of the organisation so different it might have well have been a different organisation altogether!) so the tech set up was smooth(ish) but be prepared for issues getting into shared drives etc- and make friends with someone who will be happy to send you things if you can’t get in :)

    Understand it WILL take time to build good relationships, but it will happen!! Also, please remember to SWITCH OFF at the end of the day! It’s hard doing it in a new job when you’re remote- it feels like you have to be present/ responsive all the time. But you really don’t :) Good luck!

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