Starting a new job is never easy, and starting a job in the middle of a pandemic is even more challenging. Working remotely means you won’t be able to meet your colleagues and superiors in person, with online onboarding processes and self-guide work. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t forge meaningful connections with your co-workers even though you’re separated by screens.
Here are 5 tips to help you build relationships when starting a new job remotely.
1. Connect with your new team via LinkedIn
Being the new kid on the block can feel a little awkward, but there’s no need to be shy. Take the first step to display your proactiveness by connecting with your new team via LinkedIn. This shows your colleagues that you are interested in getting to know them. Looking through their posts can also let you have a better understanding of their areas of expertise, as well as the company culture.
When it comes to introductory meetings, you would also be able to better identify who you are talking to and their role in the organisation. This helpful contextual knowledge can help you to prepare yourself prior to your first meeting with them with a deeper understanding of how their roles will interact with yours.
2. Get connected to existing resources
Make use of your organisation’s existing resources to assist you in networking. Prior to the introduction of the work-from-home routine, most companies already have existing tools for employees to stay connected even when they are not communicating face to face. Some common tools include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp, or Slack.
If your organisation uses Slack or a similar platform for communication, ask your colleagues which of the channels you should join. It could be both for work and for fun, and you may even find channels related to your interests and connect with like-minded co-workers.
3. Set up virtual coffee dates to meet your colleagues one-on-one
Doing your job well involves internal networking. During the onboarding process, it is likely that you will have some free time in between job training. Make it a point to put aside at least 30 minutes of your time once a week to solely focus on networking. Reach out to the people you work directly with, such as your manager, your peers or the people who report to you. Avoid making the mistake of taking a backseat and assuming that human resource or your manager will set up these meetings for you. Working from home means that you don’t have to fret about popping by someone’s desk and hindering their work progress — they will likely respond to your invitation when they are available.
4. Share personal anecdotes that could become bonding points
Imagine you’re having lunch with a colleague in real life — you would likely be talking about your personal life, previous job experiences and other small-talk topics. Do the same during your virtual sessions and share personal tidbits that your colleagues may be able to relate to. Letting them know who you are outside of work can help to forge a closer bond. For instance, try sharing a personal story about an experience you have had — it could be something funny that happened at your previous workplace, what you’ve been doing during the stay-home period, new hobbies you’ve picked up, or future vacations you’re dreaming of. When they reciprocate, be a good listener and show genuine interest in getting to know them as a person.
5. Organise a social event for your team
You may be new to your role at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t organise some fun team bonding events. Create an event outside of work and give your co-workers something to look forward to. It could be something as simple as an after-work tipple (but make sure you adhere to safe distancing rules and size of group gatherings!), or even virtual hangouts. Before you know it, you’ll feel embedded in the team instead of the newbie.
6. Respect your co-workers’ boundaries
One drawback about working from home is that some people may tend to overwork and feel even more stressed out as a result. The ongoing pandemic has led to issues of mental distress, loneliness and work burnout. Be understanding as your colleagues may be going through a rough time and may not be as receptive to chat. Moreover, constant video calls could have led to Zoom fatigue and some of your colleagues may be less keen to engage in yet another video call. Stay respectful of their boundaries and assess their reactions when you suggest doing a video call. If there is some hesitation, perhaps it might be a better idea to just drop them a few instant messages to check in on their mental wellbeing instead. This way, they know you’re concerned about them and want to stay connected without overstepping their boundaries.
While you may not be able to work with your colleagues in person right away, the obstacles you face are not insurmountable. They just require a little more effort on your part when it comes to creating connections with your co-workers.
You can still thrive even when starting a new job remotely
In the past, you may have been more dependent on informal introductions such as bumping into people in the pantry, but now you will have to actively seek these opportunities. The best part? You have every reason to reach out to colleagues you don’t know and maybe even forge more connections than you would in a physical office space. Good luck!