Virtual On-boarding: Starting Your New Job, From Home
by Andrew Heinceslater, Consultant – Altis Melbourne
Starting a new job can be a stressful time. No matter how many times you go through the experience, it doesn’t get any easier. This is number 11 for me, and let me tell you it isn’t always the first day that is the toughest.
It’s the following days of a new job that become more difficult. Navigating the office politics, for example, does the team find it acceptable to buy a coffee in a takeaway cup? (they do not).
There is also a feeling-out period where you establish what time you are expected to arrive and leave. How you are meant to dress? Is a bowtie too much? And the most important rule: Never reheat fish in the communal microwave.
Altis does a fantastic job of making the process as easy as possible. What causes me the most stress is the unknown of what to expect, however, day one was planned out for me with office tours and virtual meetings where needed.
A challenge I wasn’t expecting was onboarding from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first few weeks are important for establishing connections with your new teammates and trying to show worth where you can. It is made more difficult when doing that over virtual meetings from the surroundings of my home office.
In all honesty, the first few days working from home were extremely difficult as I think it may have been for most, regardless of onboarding or not.
There were the regular challenges that all of us are facing, like setting up a dedicated office space, sourcing a monitor, dealing with my puppy crying at the door all day wanting to play. Then there is the added layer that I have had to contend with; I was yet to meet all my team face to face, there was still some uncertainty from my side whether I was providing any worth to the team.
Next came the feeling of isolation and I don’t mean it in a physical sense where I felt like I was stuck in an apartment all day. The lack of connecting and socialising was hard to adjust too.
On top of that, I was the new team member and internally I felt there were these expectations of what level I was meant to be at. Just to clarify these were all internal, there was nothing to suggest that these even existed except for the time I had by myself. With these building up I could feel my confidence waning, and confidence was something that normally would be a strength of mine.
What Should I Do?
Living with someone helps ease the burden, even if they do make you take more than 3 showers a week. I do sympathise for those individuals that are completely isolated.
From a company perspective, Altis provides incredible resources and communication, especially during this tough time.
You can only get out what you put in though so below are a couple of “survival tips”, without being too melodramatic, that have helped me through the last couple of weeks.
This may sound like counterintuitive to social distancing, but if there are virtual meetups, lunches or end of work drinks, do your best to be there with your camera on. One of the highlights of my working day is the 10 am coffee catch up with everyone.
Being on camera is uncomfortable, but guess what? It’s uncomfortable for 90% of people. Interacting helps build the team morale and connections that you would be doing if on-site or in the office.
If you are yet to meet your team members, set up a half-hour meeting with questions that you want to know about them like their previous work, personal interests, the biggest challenge on the job. This gives you the opportunity to get to know your team better but also build connections that you would not have otherwise had the opportunity to in the office over lunch.
If you are starting to feel that you are not contributing or your confidence levels are dropping, be proactive and set up a time with your manager to offer help in whatever area is needed. Whether it be something very simple as organising the playlist for the Friday drinks or offering to assist with projects or work that you wouldn’t otherwise help with.
Even present an idea or suggestion that can help the business, what’s the worst that could happen? . At least you are putting your self out there and contributing.
Personally, I think this is the most important. If you feel that you are alone, or isolated, or struggling, talk about it. I can assure you that you are not the only one.
This is a tough time for everyone, and I know I am one of the lucky ones to be apart of such a great company. However, It doesn’t mean I should feel guilty about finding it hard over the last few weeks.
I guarantee that there are other people out there that feel the same and would love a chance to share. Talk to your manager, your HR rep, any team members that you feel that you can confide in.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this field by any means, I just wanted to share that if you are finding it hard to adjust to a new job or even the new role it is normal and talking about it helps. We are in this together and if you need to reach out I am always happy to lend an ear.