We are back with another insider’s perspective into the new “normal” of starting a job.
Let us introduce you to Shane, a Financial Accountant who made the big move from practice to an exciting industry role a couple of months ago. We caught up with Shane to hear more about his experience of onboarding remotely and how it has differed from starting a job In the office.
Shane Leahy | Financial Accountant
How have you found starting a job remotely?
I thought I would find it more difficult than I have, to be honest. I had been working from home (WFH) for 6 months in my previous job so from that perspective it was a relatively straight-forward transition. I was familiar with the pitfalls of WFH and was able to negotiate them a little easier than when I first started doing it.
The one thing I found that did not translate well to a remote setting was training; I think this just works better in a tactile, office environment. You really miss the ability to bounce questions off your work mates when you are not physically present in the same room and I have found that element of the on-boarding process challenging. Technology has helped to bridge that gap but not fully.
What are your top tips to anyone starting a new role remotely?
Get yourself a proper WFH set-up…a good desk, quality office chair and second screen are essential. Take your normal breaks as you would in the office and try to get outside for a walk, or even open your window every so often to refresh the air in the room you are working in. Don’t let the boundaries between work and personal time get blurred and clock off on time when you can. It’s very easy for the work day to bleed into the late evening and night if you don’t keep a close eye on the time.
Would you recommend starting a job remotely?
Yes, I would, provided that the company you work for are fully committed to the onboarding process and to training you in properly. It will never replace starting a new job in an office but the drawbacks do not outweigh the opportunities that a new job presents.
How are you finding online collaboration with colleagues?
I think it has worked well in my organisation, although collaboration is not as central to my line of work as in other industries. Zoom, Slack, Google Drive and other technological innovations have been key here and I think they manage to fill the gaps that WFH presents pretty seamlessly. Having said that, I feel that they cannot fully replace face to face collaboration and there will always be a desire for this, it’s what makes us human.
Are you spending a lot of time attending virtual meetings?
Usually, 2 hours per day on average.
Do you catch up with colleagues over virtual coffees regularly?
Yes, we have a weekly virtual coffee date at 11am every Monday morning and on Fridays we have a random coffee catch up with someone from a different department in the company. I think that is a great idea. It gives you an insight into what is happening in parts of the organisation that you’re not familiar with as well as meeting other employees outside of your normal work group. I also set up weekly chats with workmates where we talk about non-work things to take our minds off the job.
How has the virtual onboarding experience differed from previous onboarding experiences in person?
I suppose the strangest thing about virtual onboarding for me has been not having the opportunity to meet most of my work colleagues in person. When you are used to seeing someone on a screen it can be quite disconcerting meeting them in real life for the first time. I met one of my work mates for the first time about three months after I started the new job and I was shocked at how tall he was! I was used to seeing him sitting down at his desk on Zoom and I found it all a bit strange.
Somehow, I feel like I would know my work mates a little better personally had I not had a virtual onboarding, but that could just be a perception issue. In previous onboardings, there was usually a significant social element, e.g. going for work drinks, team building events etc. that obviously you cannot do remotely with any great ease.
Did you feel nervous about starting a new job remotely?
I suppose I was a little nervous that perhaps the onboarding process would not go smoothly due to technological problems or things that were outside of my control. In a way there are less nerves when starting a job remotely as there is none of that awkwardness of being shown around the office on day 1 and being introduced to everyone as the ‘new’ guy. I was more nervous about the fact that I was making the move from practice to industry and that I wouldn’t somehow be up to the job, but luckily that hasn’t proven to be the case (I don’t think!).
Are you comfortable reaching out for support/help in a virtual working world?
Yes. I would not hesitate to set up virtual meetings or to drop colleagues calls on slack. My company are very open to that and actively facilitate effective communication.
Keep an eye out for the next edition of this blog series…