Earlier this year, I started my first ever remote-first job, and it was a lot different than my past in-person experiences. So in this article, I want to share with you seven tips for success that I have found helpful in positioning myself well in my remote-first job.
If you’re in a similar spot about to start a new remote job, then stick with me because in this article, I’m going to share seven tips that you can start to use to see success immediately and start making a big impact on your remote team.
Tip 1: Pre-read what you can
A week or two before you start, what I want you to do is reach out to your direct manager and ask for any materials that you might be able to preview ahead of your actual first day. The reason why you want to do this is because it’ll show your manager that you’re a go getter and also it’ll help prepare you for your first day so that you are taking in less new information than other people that might be onboarding at the same time.
This will allow you to have a headstart in your new workplace, as well as prepare you for some of the common questions that you may have had to take half the week or a few weeks of settling in to actually start asking. In my case, I was starting this year with another startup. And so they were generally fine with giving me these materials ahead of time. While your mileage may vary depending on how corporate or formal your workplace is going to be.
In the case where you are able to do some prereading, what you’re going to want to do is do a read through, and then write down questions that you have around the materials that you have reviewed. These questions are going to be the immediate questions that you ask in your first onboarding sessions with your direct manager. The more prep that you do before you actually start, the less overwhelmed that you will be in your first few weeks on your new remote job.
Tip 2: Think about how you’d like to be known
Before you start, I want you to think about how you want to position yourself in this new company. During your first week, you’re inevitably going to have a lot of meetings with new people.
So it’s really important for you to think about how you want to position yourself and think about the sort of impression that you want to leave with these people. You want to think about how you’re going to explain what you’ve been hired to do, what certain things are important for new coworkers to understand about you in how you work.
It might be helpful for you to also think about what things about your personal life you’re open and willing to share upfront versus things that you’d like to keep for yourself because it’s a part of your personal life and not your professional life. And then you’re going to also want to think about two or three fun facts that you want to share, because that can make for great natural segues when you’re talking more about these personal topics, as opposed to work-related topics.
Ultimately, how you position yourself in the first few weeks with your new coworkers can set the stage for how they lay out your first 90 days. And so it’s really important for you to leave a strong first impression.
Tip 3: Learn the company’s cadence.
The third tip I have for you is to understand what your company’s cadence is. It’s really important for you to understand when the key meetings are on a weekly, biweekly and monthly basis. This way you don’t miss any important meetings and you’re adequately prepared for each of these meetings, with your contribution of whatever it is that’s expected of you.
The best way to figure this out is to talk to either somebody in the HR department or to ask your direct manager in your first few days of onboarding. The faster you understand how your new company operates as an organization, the quicker that you’ll get into flow with the rest of the organization.
Tip 4: Get to know the company’s org chart.
The fourth tip I have for you when it comes to starting your remote job is to get to know your organizations org chart ASAP. It’s really important that you quickly understand who is responsible for what and who the key players are within your organization. In the case where you’re working for a smaller company, this will likely be done in 20 to 30 minute meetings in your first few weeks.
However, in the case where you’re working for a larger company, they might space this out to a few weeks of your onboarding as you get to meet everybody. Sometimes these sorts of org charts will be provided for you, but in the case where they aren’t, and you’re going to want to make one for yourself so that you know where to direct your questions to later on in your first 90 days on the job.
Tip 5: Learn from your coworkers’ experiences.
The fifth tip I have for you is to learn from your coworkers’ experiences. The best way to do this is to ask them this question when you’re having your one-on-one meetings with them. If you’re going back to your first few weeks of onboarding, what would be your number one piece of onboarding advice to me?
This sets a great first impression because it sets the tone that you are here to be productive and a contributing member of the team. And also that you’re asking for their advice and for their help early on, as opposed to later on which shows that you’re eager to do a good job.
Aside from asking this question, here are two other questions that you might ask your coworkers. What do they enjoy most about working at your company? And also, what’s something they’re excited to be working on this quarter? The first question is a great way for you to learn more about the organizational culture and the second question is a great way for you to leave the door open for you to reconnect with them in a later conversation in checking in on how that thing is going for them.
Tip 6: Batch your questions
My sixth tip for you is to make sure you’re batching your questions. As you’re onboarding, you should always be taking notes. Take notes about the questions that you have before your onboarding session, as well as after, when you’re actually doing the work. Then from there, once you have three or more questions, that is the time for you to surface those questions to whoever it is that might be able to help you on that.
The reason why you want to take this approach as opposed to the common approach of just asking questions every single time they come up is because frankly, that becomes annoying for the person that’s answering questions for you. What’s much better is for you to give them a series of questions that they can answer all at once, as opposed to disrupting their workday several times in the day.
The only exception to this is if your manager have explicitly told you that they prefer one-by-one questions, but nine times out of 10, you will find that managers will prefer multiple questions at once, as opposed to the one-by-one approach.
Tip 7: Solicit feedback early and often
The seventh tip I have for you when it comes to getting started in working remotely is to solicit feedback early and often. In the case where your company has been doing this for a while in terms of onboarding remote employees, they will have some sort of check-in times dedicated in the first few days at the end of days or in the middle of the day to see how things are going. This is the time in which it’s appropriate for you to not only tell them how things are going, but also to ask for feedback.
In the case where you don’t have these sorts of check-in times, you’re going to want to set these times up with your direct manager. All it takes is 15 to 20 minutes or so, and it’s a great time for you to surface up things earlier, as opposed to later. The reason why you want to do this is because if you’re the ones soliciting this feedback, as opposed to waiting for your manager to give it to you, it shows that you’re more proactive about giving great work product, and also making sure that you are onboarding quickly.
This is also the easiest way for you to understand how you’re doing in relation to your own manager’s expectations of you and your onboarding.
Here are two questions that I would ask your manager in these sorts of meetings.
- How do you think I’m doing so far in onboarding? Is there anything you’d like to see more of from me in the week ahead?
- What are two to three things you’d say are most helpful for me to learn to do next in getting ramped up?
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