Home office desk featuring an Apple iMac

Believe it or not, some companies are still hiring, many of whom started the process before we went into lockdown and all started working from home. If you are one of the lucky ones to be starting a new job now, it’s likely that you will be working from the confines of your flat and the onboarding process will happen virtually. 

Amidst all the changes, it’s likely that adapting your onboarding process has not been on the forefront of the HR manger’s mind, so you need to be both more proactive and patient when it comes to starting your new role. 

The transition into your new job will take longer and be more difficult than in person, however with our top tips to help you in your journey, you can make things easier for yourself:

1. Let people know you’ve joined the company

In a face-to-face environment, employees will notice new starters and ‘water cooler’ conversations will naturally evolve. Unfortunately, when starting a new job virtually, you won’t have these opportunities and you will have to make an effort to recreate some of these.

Let people know that you’ve joined the company via the communication channels they use, whether it’s Slack, Microsoft Teams or email. You can let them know what you were doing previously and perhaps a fun fact about you, or what you are most looking forward to in the role. You could also give them some information about your skillset so that they keep you in mind for certain projects. 

When you do enter a meeting with a sea of virtual faces try to arrange with the host to introduce yourself so at least some of your colleagues can put a name to a face. 

Keep in mind that you need to be more proactive whilst working from home. People won’t notice you in a sea of virtual faces if you don’t draw attention to yourself. Let them know that you are new and that you would appreciate help with settling in. Many of your colleagues would like to welcome you, they just need more explicit reminders to do so than they might otherwise.

2. Get to know your colleagues

Ask your manager for an organisation chart which you can reference in the first few weeks so you’ve a better understanding of what everyone does. 

If there are some colleagues you think will be useful to get to know better, ask them for a quick virtual tea break to understand more about what they do and what they are like as a person, as well as sharing what you’ll be working on. 

You might also want to reach out to those you met during the interview process or anyone you think you might click with having seen them in large virtual meetings. 

3. Ask for help

As a new starter, you’ll not be used to the processes and procedures of your company. Furthermore, in virtual meetings and via email or Slack it’s much harder for people to see whether you’ve understood or not.

If you are confused, in meetings and otherwise, don’t hesitate to ask. Once employees know that you need more information or a context to the brief you’ve been given, they will be more than willing to help you. 

4. Learn how your team and company prefers to communicate

It’s likely that working virtually, your team, company and other colleagues will use online tools such as email, Microsoft Teams or Slack to communicate with one another. 

Get to know what communication method suits them best, alongside when is the best time time to communicate. For example, colleagues might set their status to ‘in a meeting’ or ‘do not disturb’ when they’ve got a deadline in which to complete work, or you might find that some colleagues are available to engage with you fully during the afternoon when their children are taking a nap. 

You might also want to learn whether colleagues like one-off questions which they can reply to quickly or a batch which will take a bit more time. Even if you are using online communication tools, do they actually prefer you to pick up the phone or schedule a meeting and discuss something in person?

Remember that this process will take time. Firstly, your colleagues might be in the process of figuring this out for themselves, and secondly, individuals might want to work in different ways and at different times. 

5. Understand what’s expected of you

Because you can’t just stop by at a colleague or line manager’s desk to ask them a quick question, take more time in understanding your role and the tasks you are working on. Whenever you discuss a new project, for instance, be sure to ask when deliverables are due and how your boss would like to receive them.

Reach out to make sure that you understand what tools, systems, or processes you need to learn about, when you should be up to speed on them, and whether there’s any training you can access remotely or someone in particular you should reach out to for help.

You’ll also want to plan some goals with your line manager for your next month, two months and three months to work towards, which can help you focus on the job at hand, and help you move forward in your job independently.

6. Be patient

Starting a job remotely and in lockdown will not be the easiest, and remember that you company is also in the process of figuring out how it works best. So don’t expect everything to go smoothly and don’t worry when things don't go to plan.

Be patient, as the onboarding process may be slower than normal, and don't fret about twiddling your thumbs at the beginning.