Starting a New Job from Your Kitchen Table

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With the prolonged social distancing in the UK, the chances are more of us will have to take the leap and change jobs while working remotely. Imagine your first day, already on a video call from the kitchen table in your flat. You feel overwhelmed, with one question spinning in your head: “How do I do this right?’” 

It’s a learning process for us all, and we need to look beyond training. Remote onboarding is new territory for most; employees and organisations alike.

After going through your new employer’s travel policy and compliance training, you might still feel more present at your kitchen table than in your virtual office. Below are some key pointers to help employees and employers alike create a virtual collaboration space and a sense of community.   

Video calls, video meetings, video games

Your first few weeks at a new job are usually spent absorbing information, and that will not change. You’ll need to sit through hours and hours of people explaining their roles, and attending all-hands calls where dozens of acronyms thrown around make you feel more confused than ever. Still, none of that will make you feel part of the team – but virtual team building activities just might do the trick. Whether that’s a cooking class, dance session or a pop quiz, there are hundreds of ways to help you feel like your new colleagues are more than a bunch of talking heads on a screen. Read our article on virtual teambuilding.

Make it about more than work

Schedule a happy hour with your team. You’ll steal an hour of their week, but you’ll get to know them personally. It might be months before you’ll sit down together at a local pub. Once deadlines come creeping in, your team members need to feel they can rely on each other. Good managers are also those who support you when personal life gets bumpy, so help them help you by letting them learn a bit about who you are outside of work.

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Contrived spontaneity

Replicate those casual chats you would have when meeting at the coffee machine in the office. During your first two weeks, try messaging five people in the organisation that are not in your team and have a casual video chat. Maybe don’t talk about holiday plans, but anything from favourite food to checking if they have any unusual hobbies is not off limits. The internet’s a great resource for non-work-related smalltalk topics. Organisations can make this kind of ‘contrived spontaneity’ part of their onboarding and could provide a checklist of questions that a new joiner should tick off.

Introduce your skill-set 

After a few weeks you will have introduced yourself and built relationships with your colleagues. Still, you need to make sure that you continuously build a brand for your expertise and skill set. Yes, personal branding is a thing. Offer to help; as a new joiner you’re in a unique position to see things with fresh eyes, so don’t hesitate to make use of that. Get your fingers on as many projects as possible, join meetings and give your opinion on video huddles. Worst case scenario, you will learn by receiving constructive feedback on your suggestions.

Seamless communication

If you went through this checklist and thought for a second that all these video calls might be difficult to orchestrate, it could be time to rethink your communication tools. Calling all managers: it’s time to take one for the team and check out how RingCentral can help with keeping up team morale and keep teams connected in a disconnected working world.

Get reliable video conferencing for your remote teams

Originally published Aug 20, 2020, updated Jan 17, 2023

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