When ringing in the New Year on December 31st, 2019, many people joked about having 20/20 vision. However, no one could truly predict what 2020 would bring. Did you have your graduation canceled? Was an internship put on hold due to the pandemic? Have you spent far too many hours alone with your pet (who is likely still wondering what the heck is going on)? The ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly challenged all of us in different ways, and for some, we have had (or will have) our first taste of starting a job or internship remotely during a pandemic. So...what now and how, you ask? Read on for a few (hopefully) helpful tidbits of advice for navigating this uncharted territory from someone who’s walked the walk!
Tip 1: Read About Your Company
Although you probably know a decent amount from the interview portion of your job search, many people begin on-boarding with knowing only basic things about the company itself. Since you won’t be able to go into the physical office buildings, the best way to become acquainted with your job is to go through online media. What does your company’s web page say is their mission? What’s the latest news with company decisions and leadership? Who does the company serve, and what type of language is repeated on its website? Feeling connected to your new job starts with fostering connections with your company. Read and understand the mission and vision to know the nitty-gritty of who you’re working for.
Tip 2: Learn the Culture
Company culture refers to the way other employees talk and act while at work. It is a social order one usually learns over time while working in the office. To understand culture remotely, you will have to be more direct in your approach and intentionally connect with your coworkers. Some ways you can do this is by asking colleagues what they love about the company and making notes about how others communicate in meetings and via email correspondence. Allow yourself sufficient space and time to figure out the social norms of those with whom you’re now working.
Tip 3: Connect with Your Supervisor
It’s a given that you are going to face some unique challenges when working remotely. Whether you’re not understanding exactly what your tasks are, or you can’t remember any of your login information, make sure to connect with your supervisor on a regular basis to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Don’t let yourself struggle; managers are there to help you, and whatever problems you encounter can likely be alleviated by discussing the issue(s) at hand with those who are best suited to find solutions..
Tip 4: Keep a Routine
One of the hardest things about working remotely is sustaining a routine. With nowhere to be, time can start to feel meaningless. I mean, why not sleep in a little and start work later? Why not have a long lunch and pick up for lost time after dinner? Slipping out of a routine can be easy, but ultimately it will hinder your performance and quality of work/life balance. No, you don’t want to be scrambling at 11 p.m. to finish a project and sleeping in until 11 a.m. just because you can. Be somewhat strict with yourself and try to stick to a consistent schedule. Working wherever and whenever may feel freeing, but it can also lead to an unproductive and unhealthy way of living.
Tip 5: Mimic Office Life
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t have all the same benefits of office life! Make sure to get up every once in a while to converse with other coworkers (AKA mom and dad, sibling, partner, roommate, and/or furry friend), and make sure to grab some lunch in the “break room” or go for a walk and get some fresh air outside. Also, make it a priority to have a designated workspace, just as you would at the office. Sadly, your bed doesn’t count (or at least it shouldn’t!). Get your desk, chair, and computer ready first thing in the morning for a day of focused work with reasonable breaks throughout.
Tip 6: Forgive Yourself
This one seems obvious, but many people struggle to do it. You must be ready to forgive yourself for your shortcomings. We are all living through an unprecedented time, and we are becoming the pioneers of remote work for future generations. Forgive yourself for not understanding everything on day one, forgive yourself for not meeting every goal you might have set pre-pandemic, and forgive yourself for not being the perfect employee during such an imperfect and stressful period.