What To Do: Starting a New Job in a Virtual Work Environment
February 17, 2021
By Michael Blood
Over the past 12 months, COVID-19 has shaped the way people operate, especially in regards to business. Unlike the past, companies have started hiring remote employees, meaning a completely virtual onboarding process, without ever having met teammates face-to-face. This is something most people have never experienced before, and it brings on a new set of challenges, as well as opportunities. Starting a virtual position can potentially impact an employee’s ability to absorb content, make new connections, and immerse in the company culture. While at first this may seem like a daunting task, it is certainly possible to get off to a great start at a new workplace. This article will offer suggestions, as well as ideas to make the transition to a virtual workplace as smooth as possible for new employees.
When starting a new position, it is important to make an effort to reach out and engage as many new team members as possible. One way to do this is in the form of direct one-on-one virtual meetings to get to know colleagues on a more personal level. Instead of a typical cut-and-dried zoom call, consider ways to make the communication more fun and personalized. Once a new employee establishes themselves, he or she should utilize common interests as a way to connect with their colleagues. A “walk and talk” phone call or a “coffee and catch up” meeting can go a long way to establishing an emotional connection with colleagues that is more likely to last. In addition, attend as many virtual social or networking events that are coordinated by the company as reasonably possible. These can be entertaining, team-building events or exercises that allow new employees to experience the company culture firsthand, while also getting a chance to enjoy themselves.
Be sure to also take advantage of the increased flexibility provided by working in a virtual environment. Many starting out in new positions are fortunate to be saving time and money while avoiding the daily commute to and from work. Employees can use these additional resources to their advantage and increase their productivity by working longer and more efficiently than they normally would have been able to. This can allow them to get ahead on projects and to establish themselves as a trustworthy and productive team member in the eyes of their coworkers. It is also important to make sure that a remote workspace has a strong, secure, and reliable internet connection. A secure connection can be established by utilizing a VPN (virtual private network) connection, as well as active encryption (WPA2 or WPA3) on a home router, which scrambles information sent over a network so outsiders can’t read it. This helps to ensure the protection of proprietary company or client information that is valuable and in one’s possession.
It is also helpful to designate a room (other than a bedroom) as an office space specifically to be used for work purposes. This helps to create a separation between work and home, which can often become blurred together when utilizing a home office. This is more critical than most people think, especially for those living at home with family members or children whose needs can be disruptive or require attention. Having space carved out allows for the privacy necessary to work at the maximum potential. Also, employees are encouraged to take small breaks throughout the day to refresh their mind and maintain focus and productivity. At night, it helps to completely power off work technology, and take time to disconnect to be ready for the next day.
There are many challenges facing new employees entering the workforce, especially during this critical time period. Working in a virtual setting has both its positives and negatives, and it will take time before new hires are fully comfortable. However, with adequate foresight and preparation, they can set themselves up to succeed, and even exceed expectations for a positive virtual working experience. Remember to remain patient, and that there will come a time when there will be a return to normal office activities. Until then, employees must continue to make the best of the current situation with the tools and resources at their disposal.
Digital Intelligence Newsletter - Q1 2021