Several months in the work-from-home environments necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are settling into our new work routines. But what do you when you’re starting a new role as a fully remote employee? The first 90 days of any new job are critical. Yet, many of the best practices for getting to know colleagues and employees, getting the lay of the organizational land, and communicating future plans and strategies are not possible when the organization is dispersed.
7 ways to succeed in your first 90 days as a remote worker
We recently shared best practices and tips for IT leaders to optimize their virtual onboarding processes for new remote employees. On the other side of the table, there are steps that IT leaders – or anyone – can take to make a good impression during the first three months of their new virtual positions.
1. Be intentional about meeting people
“When you are hired, you will most likely be given a list of initial people to meet with,” says Lisa Rangel, former recruiter and managing director of Chameleon Resumes . “Do LinkedIn and internet research to find other people to potentially meet with and ask in these initial meetings who on your list will be best to meet with first and get feedback.” Don’t wait for people to come to you. “Reach out to people at the company without a formal intro when possible.,” Rangel says. “Show initiative.”
2. Make one-on-ones productive
“Ask questions that allow you to learn about your colleagues’ roles, responsibilities, business priorities and challenges,” advises Margery Myers, Principal at executive coaching and assessment firm Bates Communications. “This will allow you to build a ‘mental map’ of the organization while you establish relationships and better understand how you can be a good partner to your colleagues.” Always end these convos by asking who else you should talk to to widen your network more quickly, Myers advises.
[ Need advice on looking good and being effective in virtual meetings? Read also: Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better. ]
3. Ask about virtual events or gatherings
It may take some time to get on the invite list for whatever virtual social gatherings are taking place, so ask around. “In addition to building your network, this will be an opportunity to get to know others socially,” Myers says.
4. Develop a digital communication strategy
Simply replacing the traditional ways you’d get to know your team and colleagues – office meetings and lunch or coffee dates – with video conferences is unlikely to be effective, says Martha Heller, CEO of CIO executive recruiting firm Heller Search Associates. “Rather, think through what your new digital communication strategy should be, regardless of what you might have done in the past,” Heller says. “You might consider doing a five minute video every morning on your priorities for the day, or run a video series that lets project teams present their work.”
IDEXX CIO Ken Grady recently shared his own approach to creating connection in a virtual organization. “Survey your team to learn what works best for them, and respond with a communication strategy that takes their feedback into consideration,” advises Heller.
5. Pay attention to virtual presence
Be aware of how you come across on video. “That means not only thinking about how you look, but about your video set-up including placement of your camera, background and lighting,” says Meyers. “Unflattering camera angles, poor lighting, and messy or distracting backgrounds can send a message about your professionalism,” Myers says.
6. Make every meeting count
“Because you don’t have the opportunity to meet people in the hallways or stop by someone’s office, each virtual interaction has greater impact,” says Myers. “Make sure each one counts by being prepared for the meeting, whether that’s going through any pre-reads, knowing what’s on the agenda and being prepared with good questions or comments.”
Although there may be a tendency to stay in the background and gather info in the early days, speaking up during group meetings is a good idea. “This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your curiosity and interest in others by asking questions about people and their projects,” says Myers.
[ Can you ask for a raise during a pandemic? Yes, read: How to ask for a raise during COVID-19. ]
7. Contribute to the evolving new culture
“If, like the vast majority of companies, your new company’s culture was developed through face-to-face interaction, that culture will have to change,” says Heller. “Rather than try to replicate the culture on video, become a critical leader in changing the culture for your brand new digital world. Be proactive with your CMO, CHRO, and COO on defining a new digital culture and then instilling that culture in your team.”
[ Are you leading culture change? Get the free eBook, Organize for Innovation, by Jim Whitehurst. ]