Top tips for starting a new job remotely

Kayleigh Jacobs-Rutter, is a creative copywriter at Hallam. She graduated from University of Gloucestershire 12 years ago, and offers her advice for new graduates who may be struggling to adapt to this new remote working world

I started my new job at Hallam around four months ago, in between this year’s two lockdowns. To say it’s been strange is an understatement – it’s probably the weirdest new job experience I’ve ever had!

Permanent working from home isn’t forever – but it definitely has lasted longer than many of us thought it would back in March. For graduates who want to meet their colleagues, and experience the world of office work, this can be a nerve-wracking time, especially when mixed with the standard imposter syndrome felt by all of us at the start of a new job.

But it does get easier! Read on for my eight tips on starting a new job remotely:

1 – Everyone finds it strange at first

When you start a new job, you’re used to going up to your new colleagues and being introduced to them physically. Small talk happens naturally when you pass people on your way to get a cup of tea or coffee.

It’s difficult to force personal interaction when you’re new and working from home. Getting used to messaging people when you’ve never met them and working out how to approach them is very odd.  But people understand this, and everyone is out to help each other. It’s going to feel strange at the beginning – but it will get easier in time!

2 – Cherish the extra focus time you have right now

As a writer, I’m used to having time to focus on my writing, and then coming together with my team to share our work as a group. In fact, working from home has been a blessing for focusing without feeling like I’m blocking people out with my headphones. You have far more opportunities to quietly get on with work.

This is why, with more flexible working, I believe more people will opt to work from home when they want to focus in the future. I’d suggest every team has daily demonstrations or stand ups where you can come together and chat through the work you’ve done, to keep the collaboration running.

3 – Suggest an open online ‘room’ for the office experience

We have a Google Hangouts ‘room’ that we often leave open all day, so if someone wants to talk about something non-work related, or has a work question, you can easily do it within the room. This has given me a great opportunity to chat and say hi to people. We also have a lunch time ‘cafe’ which is, in a similar vein, an online room for people to have their lunch and chat like they would in an office, if you choose to.

4 – Make an effort to ask people about themselves

When you’re in the office, many of us have that tentative period where you don’t really know how to approach people. That’s exactly the same when working from home. I’m quite personable, so I have missed talking to new people, but it’s hard to talk to people outside of your direct team.

When you get the opportunity to chat to new people, make an effort to ask them questions about themselves. A simple ‘how are you doing’ or ‘what did you do this weekend’ can spearhead the conversation onto something more personal. The more you find your feet and get used to people, the easier it’ll be to chat to people.

Even if you’re talking about work, ask your colleagues how they started learning that system you’re struggling with, or how long they’ve been at the company. Try  and act as if you’re physically together when on calls.

5 – Don’t be afraid to ask questions about new technology

I’m a massive technophobe. And at Hallam, we use a multitude of different systems to get our work done. In my first few months, I’ve had a few mishaps with technology. But our technical director and office manager have always been there to help me.

You’ll eventually get the hang of the different systems, but don’t worry about things not working. Your first few weeks will all be around training you on how to use the systems anyway, and it’s better to ask a question than just sit quietly and make an assumption, only for your issue to then get worse.

6 – Make sure you have a daily routine

If I don’t have a routine, my world falls apart. The nights are getting longer, so it can be hard to get up before work starts, but I recommend acting as if you’re going to the office anyway. I’ll call my mum to catch up while I’m eating breakfast in the dining room, and read the news. Some people work fine in their PJ’s or joggers,  but that’s not me.

I always get dressed for work in jeans (never loungewear!), because that’s what works for me. I still wear my slippers though!

7 – Track your progress

I’m a big fan of making lists. Making a list of what you need to do that day, week or even month, and having things to physically cross out can be fulfilling and really help you to be more productive. You’ll also eventually realise that you’re picking things up as you go along, and finding difficult tasks get easier as time passes.

Lists will help you to track your progress and be aware of the work that’s coming up. You can also move your work around if needed.

8 – Don’t know what career path you want? Read, ask, and read more

Many of us struggle to know what job to go into after completing our degree. If you don’t know what specific job to do, you should read as much as you can. Read widely about different career paths, and consume newspapers and online articles about people in different fields that might inspire you.

For instance, in my field, we have people who did journalism, English literature, English language, creative writing, linguistics and even marketing degrees.

 There are so many different niches and approaches to take, as well as different roles you can experience, so it’s important to get a broad knowledge of absolutely everything.

Finally, you’ve already made a great decision at UoG

I loved going to University of Gloucestershire – I’d probably say it was the best decision I ever made. I did really well there, loved my tutor, and the staff. So if you’re reading this, you’ve already made a fantastic choice in going to this university!

In the meantime, keep looking forward. Life will eventually get back to some sort of normality, and you will meet your colleagues. Hopefully these tips will help you in the transition phase.