how do I start off on the right foot in a fully remote job?

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

I recently starting working remotely at a medium-large size company after working at a smaller company for several years. I am glad for the change and everything is going well, but I am finding it harder than I thought it would to get to know people and establish solid working relationships on this larger team. At my last company, not only was my team quite small, but I started in the office before transitioning to WFH, so this aspect of working was a lot easier and just happened naturally.

I’d love some advice about good ways to get to know people and make a good impression when starting at a remote company with large departments. To be clear, I am not looking to be best friends with anyone here, but I think having a good rapport with my coworkers helps with the work I do, especially when reaching out to departments outside of my own, and I of course want the leadership teams to know me and think well of me. I generally want my work to speak for itself, but that seemed easier to do at my previous company where I often spoke and presented to company leadership.

Readers, take it away in the comments.

{ 122 comments… read them below }

  1. Viki*

    Cameras on for introductions, find a way to get into the coffee chat, more emojis than you expect (still in the range of professionalism but a :) is not the end of the world), and hello/good night in the team chat.

    I work on the other side of the country from my department, and we tend to do explain your week in a gif on Fridays, and explain your weekend in a gif on Mondays, with every day saying hello and good night, and some other random news (ie kids did this cool thing, has anyone seen this new movie etc), nothing serious but it makes things easier to make people seem like people.

    But also, it will come in time. Comradery will grow over more time, and if the first month or two it’s just a smiley face at the end of a text message, that’s still enough,

    1. Over It*

      Yes to all of this. I know a lot of people have FEELINGS about being on camera for meetings, but being on camera at least a few minutes for intros helps people put a face to your name and will make you feel more human to them. Putting a photo on Zoom/Slack/Outlook or whatever helps too.

      I think setting your own expectations that building rapport takes longer virtually than it does in person, especially if your work is not very collaborative. Meeting for coffee is great if you’re in the same city as someone. But otherwise finding moments for one-on-one connection is important. Try scheduling 15-min calls instead of always defaulting to chat or email (within reason–if something is super simple just email, but try to take more complex conversations in real time instead of emailing back and forth). Also learning a couple facts about the people on your team like the name of their dog or favorite sports team and having 1-2 minutes of small talk at the beginning of a call or the occasional non-work related chat message can go a long way! Once you get to know people better after a few months, you can dial back on the social stuff if that’s not the vibe of the company culture or even your own personality.

      Finally for leadership, in a remote environment, you have to toot your own horn more to get people to notice you. It feels awkward, but looping in your boss and their boss if appropriate can help them see you’re excelling. It doesn’t have to be bragging; you can send an email like, “Just wanted to let you know where we are with XYZ project. Pleased to report we’re a week ahead of schedule and everything has been running smoothly!” If you are in a more senior position, encourage more junior people to share accomplishments and amplify those in front of management when you have the opportunity to try to create a culture of recognizing success. Depending on the size of your org and nature of your position, skip-level meetings and trying to get face time with leadership is good too.

      1. Corporate Goth*

        If you’re permitted to use a pet photo as your profile photo in Slack, you will find your people over time as well. :)

        1. Lizzo*

          Yes to this–we frequently have Slack Huddles where it looks like a bunch of dogs are getting together to stare at each other.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree with your point about expectations also. I started a new job that is fully remote. Of course my relationships with my coworkers isn’t the same as what I used to have with in-office coworkers I used to go out for drinks with every week. But as long as we can all work together pleasantly, I consider that successful. I have made an effort to forge other social connections in other ways.

    2. CR*

      I started a new job fully remote during the pandemic and this is good advice. Participate in the group chats, cameras on for calls, if your company does any kind of virtual socializing like happy hours make sure you participate.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I started this job remotely, and very deliberately decided that as the first new person to start fully-remote, I should default to camera on and appearing engaged in meetings, with a limited budget of when I can turn it off if I’d be yawning on-camera or whatever.

        I’m also quite active in the social channels on Slack (although I try not to be SO active that it looks like I’m not actually working).

        I also really make an effort to show up when there are chances to meet people in person, even if it’s inconvenient or will mean that I’m awkwardly masking for half an hour in a bar. (And I am a moderately-outgoing introvert, so don’t imagine that I’m one of those life-of-the-party people who can pull this off non-awkwardly.)

        Two and a half years in, I definitely don’t have the kind of relationships that I used to have with in-office coworkers, but people know and like me, my work is recognized, and I’ve been promoted. I’m pretty sure the above stuff helped.

    3. Miss Muffet*

      Agree with all of this, too. And take the opportunities when they come to chitchat with folks – what did they do this weekend/on vacation … do they have kids, pets, whatever. But I also agree with cameras on, at least in meetings where they make sense. For instance, even if it’s just to start with on any calls that are training sessions. Maybe once the screen share starts, it doesn’t make sense but seeing faces really helps.
      I’m a small part of a large team and one of the guys that got hired shortly before me started a regular (every couple of weeks, I think) New Hire Touchbase and we just keep adding people as we go along. It’s super informal/safe space where we can ask questions or see if anyone else has an idea for something we’re trying to solve. Usually someone else in the group has experience or knows the right person to contact. We typically are cameras on there, and there’s a lot of just “hanging out” chat too. It’s been a great little thing for all of us.

    4. Bad Candidate*

      How do you do this when no one else does? My company is 90% remote. No one uses their camera in meetings. At all. Ever. No one is chit-chatty in the team chat. Which has 71 people in it, so if everyone posted good morning/good night, honestly that would be overload. People are too busy and overworked for comradery. Which I realize is another problem entirely.

      1. JSPA*

        maybe a “quick off-topic request” late on a friday every couple of weeks, comparable to the weekend threads here?

        “Quick off topic, if anyone here is a scifi fan, I’m looking for a book suggestion for an intellectual thirteen-year-old who’s into scifi, minus any ‘mushy bits.’ Birthday is in 2 weeks.”

        “Quick off topic for next weekend, if any of you are in eastern iowa, any suggestions for U-pick berries when we pass through?”

        if nobody else does this, you can stop. But in the meantime, you’ll probably connect with a few of the team.

      2. Always a Corncob*

        Turn on your camera in 1:1 or small group meetings. In my experience, when I turn my camera on after joining a meeting, others do, too.

      3. TechWorker*

        Is there no smaller group of people with whom you work together often (or even just report into the same mgr) for which it would be reasonable to have a smaller chat?

          1. Artemesia*

            When you are new is it possible to ask individuals to take a coffee break with you to chat and get to know each other. ‘I’m new and don’t know folks on the team; would you be up for a 10 minute coffee break this week to just chat?’

      4. Grumpy_old_it_guy*

        Get Lensa AI (or something similar) to generate a really nice avatar pic. The more polished the better.

        1. BubbleTea*

          A fake picture, do you mean? This seems like an odd thing to do – surely an actual photo of you is better.

      5. Miss Muffet*

        I just ask outright- usually best to do it in advance of the meeting in case people do need to prepare a bit. But just a hey – it’s hard meeting everyone by voice only – any chance we could do cameras for our next 1:1? – I’ve almost universally gotten yeses (and we are generally cameras off because we’ve all been virtual since the olden days when no one had bandwidth for video)

  2. Irish Teacher*

    Honestly, from my experience of correcting the state exams, which is always done from home, things like meeting deadlines, being easily contactable, letting your line manager know of any possible delays in your work and taking care with detail are all very important. Also of course, being open to feedback.

    Being polite and thoughtful when contacting others is also helpful.

  3. President Porpoise*

    At the very least:

    – Set up some introductory calls between you and your team, and any others who you may work with peripherally.
    – Attend any and all on-site events or other teambuilding activities (whether virtual or remote).
    – Be polite, punctual, helpful, and on camera (and camera ready! Don’t look too rumpled).
    – Listen more than you talk to get the lay of the office political situation, and then proceed accordingly.

    1. sofar*

      YES re: the intro calls for team leads you’ll work with. I love it when a new person Slacks me with a quick intro on themselves and then asks to set up a 30-minute call with me to just literally chat and figure out what it is that I do. That way, when you DO need these complete strangers to do something for you, you’re not just like, “Hi my name is Ann, I started 2 months ago and I need you to do this thing for me HALP.” You’ve already respectfully reached out in an attempt to figure out who they are and what they do.

      1. Hanani*

        Yup, my office (hybrid) had me set up these meetings with my colleagues when I first started. The explicit purpose was to get to know my colleagues as people, learn what they did, and learn how they tended to interact with my role.

        1. Venomous Voice*

          You can also manage this the same way you would manage relationships with coworkers who work at different sites even when all are in-office. If someone helps you out in a pinch or gives you additional information that helps further your knowledge, make sure to send an email thanking them! When someone does something that ROCKS, tell them . For anything they do for you on a Friday, even if just providing a response and you know it’s likely to be your last interaction with them for the week, add “Have a great weekend/holiday!” to your “thank you” email.

          Of course, don’t go overboard thanking everyone for ever simple response since it clutters inboxes, just make sure to show genuine gratitude when appropriate. Be appropriate, but be real, and be kind.

    2. ferrina*

      Seconding the introductory calls! I love inviting people for virtual coffee to get to know them. Most key:

      1) How has my role traditionally interacted with yours?
      2) What’s one thing I can do to make your life easier? What’s one thing I should avoid that would make your job much, much harder?
      (everyone loves that second question- they are happy to tell you about that person that just won’t fill out the documents, or hold them to unreasonable timelines, or whatever. They like that you are actively trying not to be That Person)

      1. AH (they/them)*

        Seconding all these thoughts so far: I started a mostly-remote role last year, one which is new to this workplace, in a VERY relationship-focused workplace (where remote work definitely exists and is agreed on, but leadership somewhat grudgingly honors it bc “how can you ever have a relationship if you don’t work in person”). Scheduling intro calls, explaining my role, and asking both, “tell me more about what you do,” and “how can I support you in that work?” (camera on and at my most friendly) went a long way to making those connections and getting people to reply to my emails.

    3. amoeba*

      Yeah, intro calls are great. I did them as well when I started, even though I’m not remote – but that was during lockdown times. But half the team is in other locations or in HO on any given day, anyway, so even though I’m now 90% on site, I’d probably still set it up in a similar way if I started now! (Maybe with some of them in person, but I don’t think it would be more than 1/3 or so…)
      I also think it’s really good that my manager told me to set these up (and with whom), so I didn’t feel bad about taking people’s time or awkward about asking. But now that I’ve done it once, I probably would also do it without being told in my next position.

  4. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    1. Use your camera.
    2. Engage in the group chats and personal chats. Just the act of saying good morning can go along away.
    Understand that not getting that personal face
    time is one of the downsides of 100% WFH, so you got to put in those extra efforts online. But in the end be yourself.

  5. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Same with any job. If no one is training you, train yourself. Go through stuff and start noticing how stuff is generally done. If you just don’t have access to any systems, keep escalating that as an issue.

    I notice the biggest issue nowadays is lack of training and lack of delegating stuff to new employees. But I also notice that it’s almost like a psychological trick where if you start trying to learn yourself, even if you do it all wrong and look at the wrong stuff and make the wrong conclusions, it makes people want to jump in and help. Even if it’s done in a negative way to correct your bad assumptions

    Also maybe put the chat app you use on your device, if you can. Calls/texts/emails tend to come as soon as you step away from your desk, and you don’t want to appear as never available:-)

  6. Happy meal with extra happy*

    I’m not sure how your work is set up, but at my company, we have small, concrete teams/divisions within a larger department, and cross-team work is relatively common. If there was someone on another team who I had some interactions with, I think it would be seen as normal/not unusual for me to reach out to them, say that I’m new, and would love to chat briefly about what they do.

  7. GreenShoes*

    I tend to set up introductory meetings for my new hires with people. It may be couched in a ‘learn what this department does’ but the equally important aspect is for the new hire to get to know others.

    If your boss hasn’t done something like this, you can do it yourself. Either ask around to find out if there are people you should be meeting or ask your boss specifically for a list of contacts in your company. Then you can set up introductory meetings (30 min max) to introduce yourself, find out what they do, and to start to build your network.

    1. Code monkey manager*

      This. I was very recently in the same boat, and setting up 30 minute calls with everyone whose name I heard was incredibly helpful in the first month. If there are ERGs or social chat channels, definitely join them – I’m absolutely uninterested in finding a BFF or whatever at work, but the small social engagements mean that the first time someone sees your name, it’s not when you’re asking them for an annoying favor. But the 1:1 calls are the most important.

  8. Rafster*

    Does your company have an onboarding program? We schedule 1:1 meet & greets for all new-hires with the people they will be working with, starting from the core team and expanding outwards during the first 3 weeks. No agendas, just chit chat, and we respect everyone’s calendars, but it’s a company expectation, including with execs.

    Even if they don’t have a formal program like ours, you might be able to schedule them yourselves for the people you want to meet. It depends on the culture, of course. Some people might blow you off and refuse to make the time.

    We also encourage informal groups on Slack based on interests. We have topics ranging from dad jokes to the future of AI where you can trade jokes and talk about current issues with other interested people.

    I think this is all easier in smaller companies, and culture is a big factor. We also have a “no assholes” rule, even (or especially?) for Sales, so grandstanding and big egos are not encouraged.

    1. allathian*

      My team of 20+ people does this, and when our skip-level started two years ago when we were still fully remote, she requested 1:1s with each of us to get to know us and our work a bit. It certainly made her more approachable.

  9. Jane Bingley*

    When asking questions, tack on an offer to connect via a quick call! Some people will prefer to reply via text/email, but lots of people (especially for a newbie) will be happy to chat about your questions for 10 or 15 mins. It’s a good way to connect, to put faces to names, and it can also help you understand the context behind the answer better and ask follow-up questions.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yes, this! When I was onboarding a new employee in my mostly-remote job, I encouraged them to get on a video call whenever possible vs just emailing. It helps to build those relationships, and the question is often more complicated than the new person realizes, and it’s always easier to explain “in person.”

      In person, these are the questions we would have swung by someone’s desk to ask, so a 15-minute call doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I completely agree. I work with a lot of new people in my fully remote job and sometimes they don’t know how to ask the question they actually need to ask. Having that quick Teams call helps to clarify things, make sure that we are looking at the things we actually need to look at, and helps build the team.

  10. SereneScientist*

    Seconding above suggestions around turning on your camera during calls, doing intro 1-on-1s with folks around the org, not just your team.

    Having worked primarily with remote colleagues who weren’t in my office or even in my region, I found that it helps to take really any opportunity to speak with someone–whether because you have a quesiton, they have a question, or you’re just working on something together. Provided your org’s culture is open and friendly, I generally have found that most folks are amenable to these kind of connection-building outreach. And trust that the process to build will take some time without the benefit of frequent in-person time but it is possible!

    Very best of luck to you, LW!

  11. Somewhere in Texas*

    I worked full remote for almost 5 years, so it took time to build those relationships. Luckily we had built-in in-person time, but the little moments/efforts helped to build better rapport.

    I always log into virtual meetings a bit early so if anyone else is there early I can chat with them. Generic small talk is a great way to glean things to build rapport on. Does someone always have coffee or tea? Ask them what blend they are drinking. Cool mugs? Share yours. Someone mentions they’ll be out of office on vacation? Ask where they are headed and add a line in a post-vacation email that you hope they had fun.

    If you have the bandwidth, sharing a skillset to help the broader team works as well. Just be cautious to not do your job or get taken over on a task that isn’t your responsibility.

    1. Colette*

      That’s what I was going to suggest – if you are able to, call into meetings a couple of minutes early and make small talk.

      1. AJ*

        Yup. Small talk about the weather, sports, pets, travel. Whatever you’ve got. Also pictures and photo bombs from cats and dogs always go a long way to humanize people. I just added my favorite NBA team to my chat name and it’s been a fun way to chat and get people to ask me about it for example. Congrats on the new job!

  12. teensyslews*

    Some tips from my last role which was primarily remote and most of my team was across the country:
    – If possible try to match up your work time to the time zone most people are in, if it’s a cross-country org
    – Try to set up intro meetings with your team + people from other departments you’ll be working with frequently
    – Choose someone you trust and ask them some questions about company culture – is it OK to reach out to a new contact cold with a meeting invite, or should you do a preamble through IM? How often do people meet with leadership?
    – Ask for more high-profile work that will give you some visibility in the first 6 months
    – Participate in team chats, chit-chat before meetings, etc

  13. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    My company went from no work from home to fully remote for 2020 and 2021. We hired a a couple new people during that time.

    Speaking from the other side, a long term employee to a new employee in a functional department: We’ve been waiting for someone to join the team! We want to help you get up to speed; we want to build work relationships with you as well.

    Follow their lead about video on or off, but try to have at least one call with a question or discussion with each person vs messaging or chats. You’ll be able to find out how they want to be contacted and share your preference as well.

  14. SarahKay*

    Do you have a feasible (feasible for you) option to visit the site at some point, even just for a couple of days? There’s nothing like having met someone in person to speed up relationship-building, plus it gives you a feel for the ‘rhythms’ of the office – when is a good time to ping someone vs when they’re all frantically getting x done for the daily meeting, etc.

    1. She of Many Hats*

      Related to that, how many of your team are local to you? Can you organize an after-hours meet-up for a BBQ, a pint at the pub, burgers at that new joint or something similar?

  15. mli25*

    – Being camera on or camera is key, especially early on. It also helps to ask around about what is “normal” for your company/team. Ex: my company uses cameras, but my client rarely does
    – Ask what meetings/channels/folders/etc. you should be a part of and make sure you are in them. If you have the ability to self-select into channels, see what might be of interest (personally or professionally) and join
    – Meet and greets are valuable. They let you meet folks and ask questions. Or at least build a list of people you can reach out to. Ask what they do, how they interact with your team, and how they like to communicated with (IM, meeting, phone, etc)
    – Be patient. Like any new job, it will take time to get up to speed and feel settled in. The same is true for 100% remote

  16. PotteryYarn*

    Some of this is easier to incorporate once you’re already established, but we have a Teams channel just for fun stuff—pictures of animals and kids, memes, interesting articles or videos, new music we like, etc. We also do a little introduction segment whenever we have a new hire and everyone fills out a short “About Me” quiz (Name, position/tenure, where are you from/where did you go to school, what do you do for fun, personality quiz results, etc.) and shares it on the Teams channel. I think even just including a small amount of water-cooler chat in your one-0n-one interactions as you get started (How was your weekend? Do you have any plans for XX holiday coming up? I like the poster in your background! etc.) to help break the ice with people and start building the relationships can be a tremendous help.

  17. QOTM*

    Ask your manager and close colleagues who they think the most important partners and stakeholders are for your role, and ensure you have a 1:1 introduction with them. Ask the same question as you meet more people, and follow up with every new name. Find the org charts and learn who is where, who reports to who, etc. In those meetings, go past intros and ask about what they are working on, what are they most excited about right now, what are their biggest challenges, and what are their key needs from your role. This is how you start figuring out what people’s needs and expectations are, and how you might be able to add value. Of course check with your manager to confirm they’re aligned with where you’re being asked to contribute. Additionally, work out loud. Use team meetings, chat rooms, or whatever makes sense to talk about what you’re working on, how you’re approaching it, and invite feedback.

  18. Miss Kitty*

    Consider selecting your favorite baked good or coffee sampler, and send a little “Hi this is me” box to your coworkers.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I wouldn’t recommend that anyplace I’ve ever worked — it’s too far out of the norm. And honestly, doesn’t help you get to know anyone!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I like to bring baked goods in to work when I’m in the office, but I wouldn’t mail them to anyone, that seems weird and/or ingratiating.

    2. garblesnark*

      If the coworkers are also all remote, and you have a small team of ten people, this sounds extremely expensive.

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Please don’t do this. If a new coworker did this I’d think they were out of touch and/or desperate.

    4. zebra*

      I would *not* recommend this. Not only shouldn’t you be spending your money to buy gifts for your coworkers, you also don’t know anyone well enough yet to know about their dietary restrictions or their sobriety or their home decor and who may or may not welcome particular gifts into their home. Plus, even if the information is available to you, it’s really creepy to hunt down your colleagues’ home addresses in the company directory before you have even spoken to them one on one. This will be out of touch in most work environments.

    5. Lizzo*

      I have done this, but only once I’ve gotten to know a colleague, and only because I wanted to cheer them up when they were dealing with challenging things. We also have a company culture where this kind of thing is normal.
      Keep this in mind but don’t lead with this.

  19. ArtK*

    This doesn’t help the LW, but something that companies with lots of remote workers should consider. My company uses Slack for communications and there’s an app called “Donut” that will pair people up and push them to have a conversation. I’ve had some good exchanges with my colleagues this way. I wouldn’t be surprised if Donut or some other product would work with Teams.

    1. Green great dragon*

      We do this by hand – we finish our monthly divisional meeting by being divided up into 2s and 3s to spend 10 mins talking to each other. You can choose to talk about your work, and when there’s a new person it’s often a quick summary of what we do. Or something else work related, or something not work related at all (more likely with established team members). Groups are mixed up a bit so people aren’t talking to their closest team members.

      LW could suggest it!

  20. Em*


    I’ve been working remotely since 2008, and here are some things I’ve found that really help:

    Is there a team social chat? Post in it. Even just “good morning!” is good, but I’ve found that silly little things that might get people involved are even better. Yesterday I wrote that “I forgot today was window-cleaning day for my building. Imagine my surprise when I heard someone knocking on my fifth-floor window.” with a gif of someone looking very surprised, and my teammates took it up and ran with it — some time later we had a whole story about how to turn my apartment into a defensive supervillain lair and we’d all had a good laugh. Someone else posted a picture she took of the aurora borealis on her recent trip and we all oohed and aahed.

    Is there a team work chat? Post in it. (Seriously, this is a theme :p) Ask questions (“hey, I was looking at the documentation for X and this paragraph is confusing me because Y, does anyone have a moment to help me figure it out?”). Answer questions (“Hey, I know this, here’s the link!”) . Discuss the things you’re working on. (“Hi guys. I’ve noticed with client B that they often have trouble with ____________________ . Has anyone else noticed this?”)

    Have video on during meetings at some point. I know. I hate being on video. HATE it. But just to say hello and wave to everyone at the beginning, and at the end to wave goodbye makes a big difference. I also make an effort during meetings to be active in the chat. (“Here’s a link to that article Geraldine mentioned!” is helpful and pertinent.)

    Your user icon doesn’t HAVE to be a picture of you (I recommend it, but some folks prefer not to; if it’s not you, go with a pet or a plant or something, don’t have a picture of your child or some other human being, this is work, not facebook), but keep it fairly consistent and don’t change it every few weeks. People will associate you with your icon — imagine if someone at work came to work with a whole new face (not just new hair, different in every respecrt) every few weeks. It’d be very disconcerting and difficult to remember who they are for most people!

    To get to know individuals — find excuses to work with them. “Hey, Nicole, I know you work on X thing that is related to my Y thing. Could you take a look at this process with me so I can figure out how X thing and Y thing can work better together and see if you can spot any potential pitfalls of this change I’m thinking of?”

    Remember tone of voice doesn’t happen over text. Sarcasm will be a lot less obvious, which everyone knows about, but also so are joy, distress, interest, empathy. Say it with your words. “Oh wow, that’s fascinating! (Followup question.)” “Oh geeze, poor Client, that sounds so frustrating.” (There’s some pretty cool linguistics work being done on emojis-as-gestures; I love a good emoji, but try to limit them to one per message.)

    It’s a lot harder for all this stuff to happen accidentally when you’re working remotely. Do it consciously — it’s worth it.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Thank you for posting this, it just saved me a whole lot of typing :) I started a new remote job a year and a half ago and this is what I did. I also scheduled short 1:1s with my team members as a “get to know you” thing. It really helped on the interpersonal level, plus I learned who was especially good at what, or if anyone had a strong area of expertise.

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Good advice, but double check the your org’s policy on user pics. Not all, but some companies (mine, for example) the user icon DOES have to be a photo of you. Specifically a work appropriate one with you and no one else in it (aka no wedding photos with your spose or pics with your grandkids).

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. My employer also specifies that the photo has to be reasonably identifiably you, so while nobody’s demanding that you change your photo every time you cut your hair or change its color, or grow a beard or shave it off, you can’t have a picture of yourself in a “see no evil” pose with your hands covering your face, either.

        In my team, we tend to have cameras on in meetings whenever we aren’t sharing the screen, and cameras off in meetings when someone’s sharing the screen, because the screen sharer can’t see the audience anyway, at least not the way our system’s been set up. I like this because it lets me do something with my hands while listening to the presentation, like playing a mindless puzzle game like Candy Crush on my personal phone (with the sound off) that doesn’t require too much of my attention that would look odd but really helps me focus on what’s being said in online meetings.

  21. mlem*

    This is something that really benefits from the company’s/group’s buy-in. When my company went WFH in 2020, my group purposely set up purely-social-hour video meetings, and I think they’ve really helped. We still do them (half an hour or so twice a week), and we try to focus more on personal life conversations and internet quizzes than on work specifics. I also purposely make space in meetings I’m running for some amount of personal conversation before the official start and after all required items are done (so people with pressing commitments don’t have to be frustrated by idleness).

    I don’t mean this in an insulting way at all: Have you asked your supervisor or team about social channels/events? They might not have thought about it, or might not want to impose them on more reserved newcomers.

  22. practical necromancy*

    I found myself in a similar situation a few years ago! I was a friendly fish from a smaller pond, suddenly dumped in an isolated exhibit in a large aquarium. It was hard to get to get to know my coworkers and build trust when I could only talk to them through a screen.

    1) I would recommend you find a “you” thing. Something people can know you as/identify you by. For me, it was “fun facts.” I would draw a little picture and share a fun/cute fact from the internet. People liked to comment on the daily fun facts, or question them, or share a story related to them. I made a lot of connections that way (and learned a lot of trivia). 2) If that isn’t your style, maybe start by inviting folks to short coffee breaks via zoom. I would say no more than five to ten minutes so there’s no room for awkwardness. Light & brief. 3) Smile on zooms, and have a good headshot of yourself smiling as a profile pic. If people don’t know you well, but know that you smile easily and are polite when they interact with you then that’s really enough to have a good a reputation and build from there. 4) Go easy on yourself! It takes twice as long to make connections when you’re in a big office, and even longer when you’re remote – so if things feel like they’re progressing slowly then that’s totally okay! I wish you luck!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Re 1) — yes! My daily emails start with a random holiday — like today is National Best Friends Day. Sometimes when the holiday is like, National Ice Cream Day, I’ll use it — “If you like your ice cream in a CONE, please work on work queue X, and if you prefer your ice cream in a CUP, work on queue Y!” (I assume that people who are like “No, I want an ICE CREAM SANDWICH, no cone or cup!” will just pick whichever queue :P )

  23. LTR FTW*

    I work for a fully distributed company. I agree with all the above points (especially camera on!). One thing we do is have a weekly water-cooler chat, where we hop on a call with our larger team for 30 minutes to have non-work related discussion. It’s not required, so if you’re swamped you can opt out. But it’s been a great way to get to know people.

    We have someone who owns this meeting, and they have different themes each week. Sometimes it’s “bring a pic to tell us about” or “show us your pets”. They’ll sometimes do “spotlight on [employee name]” and that person (a volunteer) comes to the meeting with a little presentation about themselves — people have talked about hobbies or their hometown, one time someone did a cooking demo. Sometimes we’ll play a game — they make quizlets on various topics and we compete. And once in a while it’s just open chat.

    It sounds like forced fun, and maybe it is… but we’ve all gotten to know each other a lot better!

  24. Jiminy cricket*

    The little things mean a lot when you’re working remotely. Like every picture of every pet in the team chat. Share a picture of yours. Remember when people come back from vacations and ask about it. You probably won’t become fast friends with coworkers you meet remotely, but you do need to make yourself visible in all the possible places.

  25. Not that other person you didn't like*

    Have something that people can get to know you by. This could be the appearance of and introduction to your cat in occasional meetings, your themed backgrounds (space or cake or StarWars), or mentions of a weekend activity (hiking, book club, radishes in the garden). It helps people personalize you and gives people something to talk with you about. I’m not saying you should be fake about it, just a bit more deliberate in letting people see who you are.

  26. Young Business*

    +1 to all the advice shared about setting up introductory calls. I prefer having them one-on-one as opposed to doing entire team calls although that is a more time-consuming endeavour.

    Maybe it’s too early, but you might want to start brainstorming a list of ways you can be helpful to others that makes sense for your role and helps you get a bit more visibility. In my case, I started to share industry news on a regular cadence and I noticed a few people I had never met know who I was from that. I also made a point to insert myself in conversations in our instant messaging system where I truly thought I could help or offer support . My grandboss took notice and appreciated that.

    Maybe you could ask if your team or department will meet for an on-site, or are there peers in your region that you could try to get together with for coffee at least once or maybe on a regular cadence? I find it makes a huge difference to get regular opportunities for face time and makes the remote work a bit less isolated.

  27. Nicki Name*

    1. Show up early for meetings and make small talk. How was your weekend, any big plans for the next one, etc.

    2. When introducing yourself, give your location. That prompts other people to give their location too. If they don’t, ask! Knowing where they are can help with work by knowing when it’s very early or late in their time zone, and with rapport by knowing what’s going on in their part of the world. For instance I know which of my teammates are dealing with the awful wildfire smoke this week and commiserate with them.

    3. Get on the Teams, Slack, or whatever channels and subscribe to both the work and social ones. Watching the work ones will help you understand the company culture, and participating in the social ones can help you make connections across the org chart.

  28. Horned Toad*

    – Don’t be afraid of reaching out to anyone when you’re working on a project together. Unless they’ve been actively chilly or rude during unscheduled chats, then you’re fine to poke your head in their Teams chat.
    – Thank people often and sincerely. I have a close work relationship because I treated another department like they mattered. And they do! Don’t go overboard, though, as it’ll seem disingenuous.
    – Use connections you have by default, like your manager. My boss paired me with someone for a project, and we took off from there. I wouldn’t have reached out to her myself, but by being assigned to her, we had a chance to talk.
    – This is mainly for not driving yourself crazy, but turn off the read receipts in Teams. It’s a text. You don’t need to wait and stare to see if they’ve seen it yet, and if they’re avoiding you, and why they’re ignoring you, etc. They’re not doing that. If you start feeling that way, then turn them off!

  29. Qwerty*

    Set up 20min 1x1s with people! Since you are new, these can be “intro” calls where you talk business for the first half and just for the second half.

    As you go on, pick some people to have just non-work 1x1s with to substitute the idle conversations that would have cropped up in the office. They can be one-offs or recurring every 2-4 weeks (whatever your mutual need is). They can be people on your team, from other teams you work with, or just random other employees that you happen to get along with.

    When future people join the team/company, remember this feeling! Reach out to them not just when they start, but over the next couple months as they settle in. Try a combo of IMs and informal video calls.

  30. Jujyfruits*

    What does your company offer to help people connect? At one remote job, there was an app on Slack that randomly paired people up monthly so you could connect for a zoom meeting. It was a fun way to get to know a lot of people in different departments.

    Also, there might be a list of people you should meet while you onboard – schedule short meetings with people to introduce yourself and learn more about what they do. That was part of a structured onboarding for me, so it might be more of a challenge if you don’t know who you need to meet. Ask your manager or teammates who you work with the most to get started.

    Join social Slack/g-chat channels (pets, sports, hobbies, etc) as that will also help you get to know people in a more casual way.

  31. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Ask your manager and/or the colleagues you’re working with to make sure that you’ve been added to any Teams/SharePoints/whatever cloud collaboration you’re using that you need access to. This seems really obvious, but I’m still shocked by people I’ve been working with for literal years now who have only just joined some of the cross-departmental teams I’m on that they definitely should have been on from the start.

  32. Thunder Kitten*

    1) make sure you are added to all the communication channels.
    2) more frequent 1:1s with your manager than you might do otherwise.
    3) be responsive – respond to communication promptly, even if it’s just an acknowledgment that you’ll get back to them later.
    4) be kind – don’t just share about yourself, take interest in others.

  33. HR Exec Popping In*

    Ask for a mentor to expand your network. Establish ongoing, periodic check-ins with peers or others your work touches to stay connected and keep those meetings even if you don’t have anything to really cover. These build relationships and keep you and others informed about work that you are each doing.

  34. Mayor of Llamatown*

    I started my current job 100% remote eight years ago, on a team that is entirely remote, so I’ve been at this a while. Lean into being more intentional and proactive in reaching out to people. All the things you would do in a “regular” job like setting up time to meet with coworkers – make that a huge priority. You have to be very intentional in building relationships.

    A lot of people are saying turn your camera on. Definitely do that the first few days, but pay attention to the culture on your team. On my team, we rarely turn on cameras, and if a new person continued to have their camera on for weeks, it might feel a little out of sync. However, other teams at my company have their cameras on more often, so the expectations can really change. Every remote workplace is different, just pay attention to the norms.

    And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You won’t have many nonverbals to pick up on, so you’ll have to also be more proactive about asking questions around things like cameras on/off, meeting etiquette, etc. I have mentored new employees and really focus on verbalizing our “norms” for them so they aren’t left wondering.

  35. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    There’s all the social stuff folks have already mentioned, but I find things you can do through the work to be more effective at cultivating strong remote relationships. This is all probably stuff you’d want to do anyway, but it’s even more important in a remote context:
    – Do what you say you’re going to do by when you say you’re going to do it, or inform people otherwise, 100% of the time.
    – Make sure you communicate extremely clearly, in writing and verbally. Give people much more context than you think they should need. Be approachable, open to questions, validate peoples’ curiosity about your role.
    – Be the person making sure projects have clear decision-makers and otherwise alleviating natural frustration that can arise in collaborative work, if appropriate for your role.
    – Don’t shy away from the hard conversations, but do them over the phone/zoom – never over email/chat.
    – Pick up the phone if you’ve had a few email back-and-forths about something. So few people actually pick up the phone now and it makes SUCH a huge difference in remote relationships. Plus, this makes you a non-contributor to Zoom fatigue, which I think people appreciate.

    1. S*

      +1 on picking up the phone! I did this just the other day (except it was Zoom, but that’s our culture) once I’d had a few back-and-forth messages over teams, and I just knew that talking it out would be more efficient!!

    2. Lily Potter*

      +2 on picking up the phone or videocalling. The written word is just too transactional. I don’t care how many smiley faces you put into emails or slack messages; you’re only going to get to know people by having real conversations.

      Also concur with whoever it was that said to attend any and all in-person social events (best) or “in-person” social video calls. I don’t care if you hate company picnics or Christmas parties. It’s essential that you show up, get the lay of the land, and get your face in the faces of your co-workers. You might even have fun!

    3. allathian*

      I’m just as fatigued, if not more, by the phone as by Teams. Teams calls are fine, especially if they’re preceded by an IM request for a call, but my organization is too large for us to have everyone in our contacts, and unless I know the person who’s calling well enough to recognize their voice on the phone, I get very flustered and the experience is extremely unpleasant. Thankfully my organization requires all work requests to be in writing, with a strong preference for using our ticketing system, so that helps eliminate most calls.

      I don’t mind the phone, heck I’ve even worked in an outbound call center when I was younger, but ironically I don’t like getting cold calls myself.

  36. S*

    I’ve worked remotely for 18ish years, and last year I moved to a new job within my company, knowing no one. Here are my tips:
    * Make sure you’re showing up at team meetings and asking questions. Let your voice be heard. Take advantage of your status as a new joiner to ask really basic questions (you might just help others who were embarrassed to ask!)
    * Schedule one-on-one intro meetings (camera-on Zoom is great, but even a phone call is better than nothing) with people. If you’re on a team, talk to everyone on the team. And find out who your key stakeholders outside the team are, and set up intro calls with them, too. Have a summary of your background ready, as well as some questions to ask them.
    * When/if it’s possible, try to get into the office. And when you’re there, prioritize face to face meetings. In my experience, once you’ve met someone face to face, it’s much easier to collaborate remotely.
    * Be friendly over remote-based tools. Like, literally shoot people a “good morning! just saying hi!” message over slack or Teams or whatever.

  37. Maggie*

    ohh! I was going to ask this question tomorrow! I’m starting a new remote job on Monday.

    – my boss’s boss has weekly open office hours, which I eventually want to attend, but I want to make sure I go there with a purpose and I worry 1-week in might be too soon. Has anyone done this?
    – I want to meet with as many teams as possible at first, but don’t want to feel like I’m steamrolling anyone. Should I talk with my boss about which teams to meet with and see what he says?

    I was to come across as eager to learn, but I don’t want to start too fast ( I want to observe how the culture is, is it more urgent or slower, etc)

    1. GreenShoes*

      my boss’s boss has weekly open office hours, which I eventually want to attend, but I want to make sure I go there with a purpose and I worry 1-week in might be too soon. Has anyone done this?

      Can an introduction be that purpose? It’s never a bad idea to get the grand boss’s perspective on the team, your role, goals, etc. (This could be ‘gumption’ done right!)

      Some questions to ask :

      What functions does your team have?
      What is the focus for this year from your perspective?
      How does my role contribute to that focus/goal?
      Are there any teams/people that you think I should get to know?
      I’ll be working on X project or in Y function; where do you see that in the future/anything I should know from your perspective/do you think it’s working well or do you think some changes are needed

    2. Over It*

      Don’t be shy about these things! Attend your boss’s boss office hours on week one unless your boss tells you otherwise. You can say you just wanted the opportunity to introduce yourself, and if conversation is slow you can ask a few questions like what they’ve enjoyed working on lately, where they see the department going in the next few months, or follow up on any questions you have about things you’ve learned in onboarding that are more big picture. And don’t feel weird about meeting with other teams either, but talking about it with your boss first is a good idea. He can tell you who the best person to get in touch with is on each team and which teams you will work most closely with. You may have to stagger those meetings over several weeks or a couple months, so prioritizing departments you’ll work most closely with is best. Good luck on the new gig :)

    3. Nicki Name*

      “I’m new and want to see how things work here” is a perfectly good reason to attend the open office hours.

      For meeting new teams, find out if your team has regular meetings with any other teams and ask if you can tag along to one instance of each meeting to introduce yourself. For getting to know other teams that your team doesn’t regularly interact with, developing social connections may be a better bet.

    4. Green great dragon*

      I reckon week 2 is the perfect time to go – you’ll have a bit of an idea of your own role which means grandboss doesn’t have to cover the absolute basics. Introducing yourself is a great reason on its own, but you could also ask how they see your team fitting with the rest of their command, ask what they’re looking for from your role, ask what their boss is like, any tips for getting to know customers, any tips for getting their boss onside?

  38. Sharon*

    Schedule “get to know you” meetings with everyone you are expected to work with. Ask them what their role is and tell them what your role is and what they should go to you for. Also, if there was someone in your position before you, telling them “I’m the new Ben” or whatever may help them connect the dots.

  39. Justin*

    My job is not fully remote – I go in sometimes bc I get bored at home – but none of the people on my actual team work in my city, so it’s very zoom-based.

    1. Set up 1 on 1s with anyone you might work with. Yes, ask about their roles, but honestly it worked better for me if I got a sense of them as people. It’ll take a while to figure out the roles, getting a sense of the people helped me a lot.
    2. Try to be camera on at least at first. Whatever this means for you, show yourself through that little box.
    3. Ask a lot of questions.
    4. If there are ever events in-person and you are comfortable with such a thing, GO. I ended up really liking my coworkers on the 3-4 times a year I’m with them.

  40. Itsjustanothergirl*

    I work for a remote only company and we do a bunch of things to help with getting to know each other.
    1. Slack has a plugin called ‘Donut’, which sets up weekly chats with another employee (different one each week). Ideally you spend that 30 minutes talking about yourself, family, hobbies, etc. I’ve met and friended so many people doing these
    2. We have fun channels for pretty much any interest you might have. Jump in if you can (or start them if these don’t exist yet). Pet pics, garden pics, cooking pics, you name it, people love to see it.
    3. We do a yearly in-person retreat. We’re distributed around the globe, so it’s a chance to see and get to know people in other time zones/other departments. These end up being more relationship-building than getting work done.
    4. Be a go-to for the thing you’re great at. I’m really good at troubleshooting our product, so anytime someone asks for help, I’m in there helping out. Now people I haven’t met yet are coming to me directly.
    5. Be the awesome you you are and the rest will see it. :D

    1. Justin*

      Number 3 is what we do too (well, national). Honestly meeting people I had come to really like in person for the first time last summer was one of the most exciting experiences of my life.

  41. Pogo*

    Mostly just lean in to the everyday interactions. Reach out on Teams or Slack or whatever you use. People will absolutely get to know you through these interactions if you aren’t overly formal. Like, you are talking about a procedure and have a question, but you have a funny story about something similar, throw it in the chat with that person. And use emojis!

  42. Face Made for Email*

    There’s a lot of good advice here but I just wanted to add my experience about one aspect of this: I’ve been working at an all-remote company for two years and have great relationships with my co-workers, and I’ve only ever been on camera with any of them once. So if you cringe at the advice to have the camera on, at least in some places, it may not be crucial. While it’s true that we’re in a niche industry that is Extremely Online, I don’t think that purely online relationships are foreign to the mainstream anymore, so I don’t know how much that really has to do with it. Absolutely make sure you reach out to people, indulge in small talk, be part of group chats, etc, to develop relationships, but your face may not need to be part of it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, this is the case where I work. If I never see you on camera, and you never see me on camera, that’s perfectly normal.

      This is very much a culture issue, so I would go without however people at your new company handle it.

  43. Lauren*

    My team was mostly in-house so the few remote people basically gave our bios and then no one else did. I have no idea who is on my team, and I feel so disconnected that I will probably start looking for another job. Don’t rely on anyone to do this stuff for you. On your 3rd day, get a list of everyone you should know and make 15 min meetings introducing yourself.

  44. Gender Menace*

    Not the OP, but I’m in a similar boat, starting a fully remote office position after working frontline retail for the majority of my life, and I’m nervous about the tranisition!

    My new boss has already scheduled a meeting with the people I’ll be working closely with, but I was super curious about what other places do. These comments (especially anything about Slack) are VERY helpful!

  45. Eliz*

    I started a new job last summer which isn’t totally remote for me, but we all work from home to some extent and some team members are not located nearby. During my second month on staff after the initial on-boarding, we had daily “office hours” on instant message, initiated by our very thoughtful communications person. It was in everyone’s calendar Mon.-Thurs. for 30 minutes in mid-late afternoon. If you had an important meeting or deadline there was no guilt for sitting it out or answering way later. At the top of the 30 minutes, my coworker would pose an icebreaker question, i.e. “best concert you’ve ever been to,” “what’s your favorite snack item,” “what was your first job,” etc. But crucially, all pretty neutral things you’d be able to come up with a work-comfortable response for. Everyone would pop in to answer/chit chat when they had a few minutes, and sometimes we’d just chat about how our days were going/random topics without a prompt.

    It sounds a little cheesy, but it genuinely helped me get to know everyone in the absence of time in the office together, and helped build team rapport. I would note that we have a very small core staff of five so we’re agile in a certain way! But I could see initiating something like this within a more immediate team/department even if your org is bigger. Might not work for every group, but I observe that I’m on the introverted end of the spectrum particularly when I’m the new person, and in some ways found it easier to get to know this team than the team at my previous, completely in-person job which I started years ago.

    Less cute, but I have other satellite coworkers/partners that I work with a lot and have never met in person. We mostly work together by email on admin type things, and it’s been helpful to schedule monthly check-ins on video chat (tailor that timing to whatever the needs of your job are, obviously). I always make a written agenda we can both add to with “how’s it going” at the top, and we show up to say hi even if it turns out that all it is is 10-15 minutes of “no big news but nice to see you, and I’m working on that doc you need.” Also a good way to save some time for those little questions that don’t seem important enough to email or just to remember there’s a person behind the email address. I always feel a little anxious and awkward going in because who loves video meetings, but good about it afterward!

    Good luck!

  46. I'm More Fun Than I Sound*

    This worked for me, but wasn’t something I publicized–I live out of notion and have a TERRIBLE memory for names, so I created basically a database that included everyone I talked to, and at minimum their role & organization (consulting, so lots of outside partners). They mention a pet? Pet info goes in their notes. Kids? Write down their names and ages. Hobbies? Those too. Kept this up for about four months before I felt like I had enough information about everyone to hold a polite conversation if I needed to, and folks love being remembered. They don’t need to know that my database is doing the remembering for me.

  47. Junior Dev*

    Show up for group meetings a couple minutes early and ask anyone else who joins early how their day is going.

    When you have a call or a meeting with 1 or 2 people, start off by asking how they’re doing; if you remember something they’ve mentioned, like a hobby or a kid who’s about to start college or something, ask them about it.

    Just doing those 2 things has gotten me a much better relationship with my colleagues at my current remote-only job.

  48. girlie_pop*

    I’m in the first fully-remote job and these are some of the things I did: During my first couple of weeks, I scheduled 15 minute one-on-ones with people I’d be working with and some that my boss just said it would be good to know. They were mostly just personal introductions with a little bit of discussion about our jobs and things like that.

    I also participate in a lot of the slack channels about different topics (pets, cooking, reading, etc.). I know that kind of thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s a good forum for interacting with people on other teams and getting to know folks a little bit better while discussing things that aren’t strictly work-related.

    My company organizes “Coffee talks” every month where wee sign up and get randomly paired with someone and have a 30-minute chat with them sometime during the month. I always participate and I really enjoy it; I’ve gotten to know people who I never interact with otherwise and it just makes me feel like part of a team.

    I also have a standing event on my calendar each week to reach out to someone I haven’t talked to in a while just to say hi! (I have ADHD so don’t come after me lol). I just send them a little Slack message and say, hey, how’s it going, it’s been a while! I jus wanted to say hi and see [how’s the new house/how your dog is doing/how your trip to Canada went/what fun hikes you’ve been on lately]. It’s a nice way to keep in touch and develop a little bit deeper relationship.

  49. DeeDee*

    I started a remote job about 4 months ago, and I set up a bi-weekly call with a coworker who started the same day I did. It’s been great to have a buddy to talk through all the things we’re learning and trying to understand — it helps that they and I are on a lot of the same projects, but not all, so there’s plenty to share.

  50. zebra*

    A bunch of people have already mentioned setting up 1:1s with people who you’ll work closely with, but I also want to make a plug for just asking to talk with people who seem friendly even if you won’t work closely together. This is a bit dependent on company culture, of course, but in general don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who just seems fun or nice or well connected and ask if they’d be interested in a 15 minute zoom chat over coffee to introduce yourself and *not* necessarily talk about work. If people are too busy or uninterested they can politely decline, but there are always a few people in any workplace who would be thrilled to have a new person to talk to over coffee, even if you won’t work together much — but those are the people who will be instrumental in introducing you to the social dynamics of the workplace.

    Also, personally I find that it’s very helpful to have a pet, particularly one who likes to butt in during calls and sit right in front of your camera. My cat provides lots of conversational openers.

  51. Tara*

    Yes to having your camera on as much as possible (I turn mine off if I’m eating and that’s about it) and yes to emojis! I consider emojis to be crucial to digital communications, whether it’s clients, co-workers, or anyone else I work with. Obviously no poop emojis, but they make a huge difference in conveying tone. My fully remote team is huge on emoji reacts and we upload custom ones- it’s a fun game that even quiet people participate in. Make sure to have a display picture, and I do recommend a professional looking photo so that people can recognize you. I’d go further than camera on for introduction unless there’s a genuine need to have your camera off. I find that not only are people more aware of my presence, but having eyes on me keeps me from indulging in bad habits like being on my phone. I know lots of people hate being on camera, but I rarely have more than 2 hours of video meetings a day and I think it’s a small price to pay to be engaged with my co-workers and being able to work remotely. Big company wide meetings I generally shut it off, but for team meetings I highly recommend keeping it on.

    Speak up! Even if you don’t have a proper “contribution”, saying thank you, giving an emote reaction to what other people say, etc, shows you as being present.

    Do you have social channels on your teams/slack/discord? Post some pics of your animals or hobbies, respond to whatever interests you. Join a committee if it makes sense.

  52. Elizabeth West*

    My job is partly remote (my whole team is) but in office three days a week. One thing that helps when a company is remote is profile pics. So many folks don’t show themselves on camera, but then they don’t have a pic either, so I’m talking to a set of initials in front of a disembodied voice.
    It really helps me to connect a face with the voice.

  53. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    First, not helpful but it just takes longer. In my experience, getting to the place you describe takes almost twice as long as it did at an in-person job. I really REALLY struggled with that in my first virtual role, but you can get there eventually.

    Now, advice–see if your org has employee resource groups (ERGs) and join one or all that interest you. Attend the meetings, participate in the activties–our womens group has TED Talk discussion groups and a book club group each month. The LGBTQIA+allies one has a fun run and a rock painting planned for June. That and going to trainings is how I’ve made some of the best connections

  54. Maggie*

    Forgot to add more questions to my post above. (starting Monday at new job)

    – What should you talk with your boss about the first day? Things like (1) specific goals of the position (2) what priorities should I focus on the first month?

    I don’t want to make it seem like I need to ask his permission on everything

  55. Katefish*

    I have a mostly remote coworker (sometimes goes to a satellite office) who’s great at bringing her personality (kids, pets, sports) into our team chat without overdoing it. It helps that she rocks at her job and is responsive to emails. If you have a team chat, definitely chime in!

  56. VivKeill*

    One thing my team started doing after we had been together 8 months and had never really gotten to know each other was virtual coffee breaks. I put a teams meeting on our calendar for 15 minutes set to free time twice a week. Our only rule is that we try to not talk about work. The idea was to try to replicate, at least a little bit, that office environment where you stop by someone’s desk and be like, “wanna walk to get a coffee” and you have a little convo – it’s been really great to connect with people.

  57. WendyCity*

    At last, an Ask the Readers I feel qualified to answer!

    Camera on for any new introductions, of course. I highly recommend using a profile picture/headshot for Teams/Slack/Outlook/any communication software you’re using.

    Also, be bold about messaging first and setting up meetings just to get to know a coworker! Know your company culture, of course, but especially those first 90 days, it can help to establish yourself with people who you may not work directly with all the time but still need to know.

    Log on early to meetings – even that two-three minutes of small talk with the meeting organizer and other early birds can make a good impression.

    Figure out a specific way to plug in to existing office culture (which does still exist virtually, I promise). Sharing pictures of pets or kids? Being really good at finding the perfect reaction gif? Sharing a killer working playlist? Err on the side of being too friendly at first, just to make yourself a known quantity.

    Our department also designates one person per biweekly meeting to do a “getting to know you” presentation (especially helpful given that a bunch of us are new hires).

  58. WantonSeedStitch*

    I had a new person join my team last summer who is working in a parallel but separate role from the others on the team. Those others are organized into two sub-teams under their own managers (my direct reports), but this new person reports directly to me. I recommended that he attend a virtual team meeting of each of the two sub-teams to get to know the others and learn about what they’re working on, and he did so–and then contacted each of the individuals after the meeting to book a short 1:1 meeting with them. I thought that was a great proactive move to build relationships, and it certainly seems to have been well-received.

  59. Peon*

    In general, I hate meetings, but this is a time when I’d encourage you to invite yourself where it makes sense. We have a daily stand up meeting that I encourage newbies in other groups to drop into (they never do) because it would give them helpful context. There are also some kinds of project and working meetings I’d invite a new person to, even if it doesn’t directly affect them, because it can be a really helpful way to learn what goes on behind the scenes and a great way to see concretely who does what and how.

  60. Jenni*

    I found it very helpful to have 30 minute intro calls with as many people as possible during my first 30 days where I always asked some variation of the same questions to everyone 1) how long have you been in your role 2) what do you do 3) what are your biggest challenges 4) how can my role help you? And then depending on their answers, the conversation would naturally evolve. My entire division would also do intro calls usually within someone’s first week or so where they’d prepare a presentation about their professional history and their life outside of work including pictures of family/vacations/hobbies/pets etc and their work style/philosophy. Usually this was a great segue for the 1:1 intro calls later because people would share things they have in common or ask questions. Now I’ve been nearly fully remote for 2 years but have awesome relationships with most of my team.

  61. triplehiccup*

    many people have mentioned intro 1:1’s which are a great way to start. once you’ve hit it off with some people, see if they want to have periodic 1:1s just to chitchat. I do this with 4 or 5 people, generally on a monthly basis, and it’s a great way to keep abreast of the larger org as well as enjoy a social connection.

  62. wink*

    I started a remote job during the pandemic so I didn’t actually meet any of my coworkers until 2 years in. It was my first remote job, and I honestly felt so much more connected to other people than I expected to. The contributing factors imo:

    1. Camera on culture across the org
    2. Daily stand-up with my immediate team
    3. Culture of icebreakers at the beginnings of meetings of all types
    4. Memes and gifs encouraged in project communications :)
    5. Annual in-person company-wide retreat (including karaoke!)
    6. Managers schedule 15 minute coffee chats with new hires and roles they’ll be working with frequently
    7. Quarterly team retreats (some virtual, some in-person) that include team building/social activities

    All that put together, and I feel like I have genuine relationships with my coworkers!

  63. nnn*

    Assorted thoughts with no particular order or thesis:

    – Be responsive! Answer your email/chat/phone right away whenever possible, so people never have to worry about reaching you.

    – The laughing reaction emoji is your friend (if the system your employer uses has it). Someone makes an attempt at humour that you don’t disagree with, click the laughing reaction emoji even if it didn’t make you laugh out loud. People feel positively about people who laugh at their jokes, and it doesn’t take any acting skills either.

    – The word “normally” is your friend when it comes to calibrating expectations. “Do people normally raise their hands in this kind of meeting, or just speak up whenever they have something to say?” “Do we normally send documents by email or share them by Teams or…?” “Do people normally inform the team when they’re stepping away to grab a coffee, or just go grab a coffee?” This lets you calibrate expectations and get information about What People Do rather than What The Rules Are.

  64. It's Me*

    As someone who’s had to go through this very thing, I echo a lot of the advice above and add, a quick request for help via chat can go a long way. Sometimes it can be a “Someone in a meeting said X, could I ask what that meant?” request re: insider knowledge, sometimes it can be a “Boss said to look through Y file but didn’t say where that is,” etc. Just a little favor that makes folks remember you’re new and adrift, and then as they help you, exchange some light pleasantries and start building connection. And don’t undervalue cross-talk on messaging services!

  65. *kalypso*

    I started remote at my current work; I attended the relevant training on my first day but since then have only attended social events, union meetings and one or two all-staff meetings, and WFH and attend meetings or group instructions/sessions by Zoom. Everyone else is office-based, but since I started and since one COVID lockdown where we weren’t considered essential enough to be allowed to go in anyway, everyone has been a lot more flexible in being able to work from home for things like having tradespeople in, flextime to pick up the kids and then finish up from home, not well enough to come in but fine to work for some of the day, etc. and so the culture has become more hybrid as time has passed, which has made things a bit easier than they were as it’s been a bit more normalised to chat in our team Zoom (introduced specially so people could talk to me, and some people still forget to log in) although you can tell when someone else is WFH and not just me.

    It’s a bit different when everyone’s remote as everyone is then making an effort and there’s more likely to be virtual social channels or events – I’m not sure from the post whether my situation is similar to yours or completely different.

    In my situation I have good rapport with my direct manager and one coworker on my level, and everyone else is at the polite-but-stick-to-work level, with one person I dread talking to (and of course, is who I have to talk to most often!). Part of this is personality – my direct manager is a really good manager as well as our senior admin and office manager, and part of that is that she puts the emotional labour in on behalf of the big boss in terms of arranging birthday gifts, professionals day gifts, bonuses, and the soft HR tasks; the other person I have good rapport with is closer to my age and we have interests that overlap, but when she started and was still learning and had more time, she’d IM with me in her lunch break and made the effort to respond to me saying ‘hi’ when I logged in, whereas everyone else just didn’t and still doesn’t. A lot of it, despite my best efforts, is just personality that way.

    On top of things people have already said, things I have done to try to improve my relationships with my team and build a good reputation, apart from doing my best to be good at my job:
    – When someone asks me to do something, I respond to acknowledge that they asked and that I’m starting it (usually I’m starting it right away – if I’m not I let them know when I’ll get to it and how long to expect it to take, or if I need them to answer questions before I can start) and again when it’s finished. If anyone asks me to do something I prioritise it over my regular duties, even though I don’t have to.

    – I don’t ask questions unless I’ve already tried to find the answer myself, but when I ask questions I’ll phrase it like I need a bit more help than I do, which sounds a bit counterproductive but I’ve genuinely found people respond better that way. For example, I was given emails 1 and 2 in a chain of 3, and I went looking for email 3 in the inbox and on the file and on the server, and I knew very well it wasn’t there because it was not there and searches of all possible locations only brought up 1 and 2. When I wrote to ask if we had email 3 I was just like ‘hey, I got email 1 and 2 but not 3. I did try to look for it but didn’t see it, can you please let me know if I missed it?’ not ‘hey, you only gave me emails 1 and 2 and we don’t have email 3, can you double check and pass it on if you have it?’ For some reason people in my office respond so much better that way, ymmv depending on the personalities you’re dealing with and whether you’re dealing with people above or below you, but an extra degree of humility or ownership compared to how people in the office talk to each other can be a very useful tool.

    – Picking up scut work or time-consuming annoying stuff when you can. People remember it and view you as a team player, so it makes up for things like offering to grab a round of coffees when you go to the kitchen or adding a bag of fresh lollies to the lolly jar or picking up someone’s printing for them or whatever the small communal teamwork task is. I’m the one who gets on live chat with the software helpdesk and sits in the queue for an hour and a half then tries to explain our weird issues to people who are great at troubleshooting but not using the program, or researches how to do x or which is better, y or z, or when it comes time to build the massive progress update spreadsheet by entering values cell-by-cell because it can’t be a database or SQL query because the boss isn’t exceedingly technologically literate.

    – Being consistent about how you report and update your manager, especially if they don’t already have a system in place or don’t really care how you do stuff as long as it gets done. I write my manager an email when I finish for the day even if it’s just ‘I finished everything and did not sit on my hands for the other two hours of my shift’ or ‘Today I entered 450 items into the database and updated page 3 of the spreadsheet’. My manager now trusts me to get stuff done and will only assign me new work or let me know when something needs to be prioritised, and nobody is ever worried that I’m slacking off because they can’t see me (especially important where some people are slacking off or it’s been a concern or joke that WFH means you can be lazy). I did give up on jumping into the team zoom if I had 2-3 hours free because I’d just get ‘no we don’t have anything you can do, it is very quiet, sorry nobody responded to you because we had lunch’, but my manager knows I have capacity and has a sense of what my normal workload looks like even though she can’t see me nutting away or how many files I have open or who asked me to help on what etc. For you it might be an email once a week or sending task notifications or however it fits in your workflow and software – just be sure to do it consistently and regularly so your manager can get a sense of your work and workflow and capacity, and has an opportunity to check in with you if they don’t get the information they need. (My manager had me send my check-ins to the whole team for a couple of weeks because she found them helpful and wanted everyone to have the information and a sense that I actually do stuff, so I have affirmation that it’s fine for me this way. If you don’t get it it’s fine and helpful to ask if there’s a specific way you need to check in.)

    – Setting clear expectations about when and how people respond to you. It doesn’t have to be as on-the-nose as ‘I need to know this by next Wednesday’, or ‘I don’t need this to finish my work today so if you’re busy you can backburner it until later’, but because people can’t always chat with you in passing or in the break room and can’t see you work, they genuinely may not know what you do or what’s important to you, so when you do have to ask for stuff, including something about how important it is or when you need it by lets them fit that in and also let you know if there’s something that means they can’t do that, or allocate time to have a conversation if it’s needed, or just be prepared to respond to you to get you what you need instead of waffling around it, which gives people a sense that you respect their time and contribution enough to let them get on with it. You can also set expectations around how you communicate with people so they know what to look for or what your expectations are – part of the reason I can email my manager with a progress report every day I work is because I also explicitly said ‘if I have a question and I need a response, I will send it in a separate email with question in the subject’ and I send my timesheets in an email with timesheet in the subject and my updates have ‘update’ in the subject, and my manager can prioritise her email accordingly and knows I won’t be upset if I just get my payslip and not ‘thank you for your time sheet, i will process your pay tomorrow’ and then my payslip and then ‘i processed your pay so you should get your payslip soon’. But that did take a bit of back-and-forth to establish, and communicating expectations and I even explicitly said ‘I am sending updates so you know I actually showed up since you can’t see me at a desk from your desk’ at one point.

    Not all of this may be applicable to you, and a fair tl:dr; is just to communicate clearly and often and make your expectations and needs explicit since there’s often no way for people to intuit them when you’re not in the same place, and work reputation and rapport kind of follows.

  66. Opie the Dog*

    Set your boundaries early. Put your lunch on your calendar as “out of office.” Set your calendar to your working hours and enforce them.

  67. I have RBF*

    When I started my current remote job, no one even said “good morning” on our team chat. So I started doing it when I first got in. Why “good morning” as the ice-breaker? Because it serves a purpose of saying “I’m logged in and ready to communicate today”. I’m now not the first person on my team to break silence in the morning, and we have a lot more chit-chat than we used to as the team comes together.

    We don’t have a “cameras on” culture, but we do have the custom of using a unique avatar for our presence, mostly comics or SF&F based.

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