How to start a new job when we’re all working remotely

27 October 2020
Beginning your first job after uni always brings a bewildering array of customs, relationships and procedures to learn. When Sarah Said started at Think HQ in August, she found that the post-COVID world of remote work has made getting settled a whole new experience.

Not too long ago, I received a call that wrenched me away from the clutches of post-grad uncertainty.

It was official. For the first time, I was a full-time employee.

As vivacious as the news had left me, celebrating these milestones felt odd. My sentiments were muddied by the global pandemic and relentless 2020 disasters. I was situated in what felt like a year of collective mourning. 

Despite it all, I made room for gratitude and celebration. A bounce in my step I hadn’t seen since the BC days (Before COVID) remerged. My resolve was strengthened. I knew this position would allow me to pay my dues. To give back and situate social good at the forefront of my working life.

Soon after, I found myself awash in a sea of paperwork, virtual strangers, and comms acronyms. I scrutinised the company culture through my webcam and sent many, many emails. The virtual office became my new normal.

Change can be exhilarating. But it can also be isolating and intimidating. As we virtually navigate our way through the pandemic, those emotions are further complicated.

As a woman who has hurdled, waddled and skipped through numerous milestones amid these tumultuous times, I’d like to think I’m rather informed on the matter.

 Here are my tips on making the transition as seamless as possible:

Tip One: Outline your boundaries

Transitioning into a new job can be jarring. Even more so when the “office” is situated by your bed. With no buffer of train commutes and conversations with strangers at the coffee shop, the line between work and home is blurred. Now more than ever, it’s imperative to draw that line in permanent ink.

This can mean different things for different people. For me, it means dressing up and spritzing perfume on my wrists. Figure out what it means for you. Wearing jeans indoors? Dangly earrings? Whatever you decide will allow you to reframe your mindset for the day.

Work commutes were once passages of time where the transition could be graceful. 

Now, a long train commute can be a brisk morning walk. Lining up at the coffee store can be slowly brewing your beverage of choice. Slow your mornings. Savour tastes, sights, and sounds. Ground yourself as you recharge.

Tip Two: Structure your day 

Ah, the double-edged sword of a formless day. While the spontaneous among us may rejoice in this amorphous blob of time, we must maintain a balance. To keep some semblance of structure, write up to-do lists and schedules. Note what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve been thrown by so it’s easier to report to your supervisors and receive feedback. At the end of the day, you are your own manager. Hold yourself accountable. 

Tip Three: Speak Up 

Quick office check-ins and breakroom chats are relics of the past in this virtual world. The wholly virtual nature of communicating can make newcomers feel somewhat isolated from workplace culture. What once could be mentioned in passing at the office can easily be overlooked in a slew of emails.

Now, we all need a little more exertion and patience.

Be proactive, schedule meetings with your team, and ask questions. While you may feel as if you’re bothering your supervisors, extend yourself some grace. Do not be afraid to ask for direction and clarification. Remember: You’re learning the ropes through a computer screen. That is no small feat.

Tip Four: Celebrate

Finally, congratulations. As our personal and professional communications migrate online, it can be easy to click away, update our feeds, and move onto the next thing.

Pause. 

Acknowledge this momentous occasion (with some cake perhaps). Recognise the feat of what you’ve accomplished as our world makes some renovations. 

Above all else, prioritise yourself. It is easy to get so absorbed in this shiny new world that you forget your own. Reach out to your loved ones, take regular breaks, and get some fresh air. 

As for me, these now-familiar faces plastered on my laptop screen offer me a newfound hope. While many of us have yet to meet, I feel incredibly grateful to be here. Engrossed in a company filled with incredible people bound by a drive for change. 

Sarah Said smiling
Social Media Co-ordinator