A number of firms are beginning to use virtual onboarding processes for new legal employees. We share our tips for making an impact when starting from home.
With new responsibilities, new people and new expectations, starting a new legal role can be an anxiety-inducing time even for the most seasoned professionals. But what if you’re starting your new job from your own home?
As a result of the health and safety measures designed to reduce the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, numerous employers are making use of virtual interview and onboarding processes. So, if you’re entering into a new role in the coming weeks or months, there’s a high possibility you will be doing so remotely.
Due to the particular challenges associated with virtual onboarding and the probability that members of the TotallyLegal community will experience such a situation, we have assembled this handy guide on how to start a new job remotely.
Find out about your onboarding process
First of all: connect with your new manager or a contact in HR to discover what to expect from your upcoming onboarding. The world of remote onboarding may still be new to your employer, or you may find that they have become used to the process. In either scenario, you will find more confidence starting a new job from home knowing what to expect.
Create a workspace that works
In order to be at your best, you need to ensure you have a workspace that works for you, and this is particularly imperative if you’re likely to be home-based for the foreseeable future, or even permanently. Double-check you have all the technology and equipment that you need to work not only efficiently, but comfortably too - your new employer may provide a desk, laptop, chair etc. so enquire before you spend any of your own money.
Introduce yourself… and again… and again
Even when you’re meeting people face-to-face, the start of any new job often requires many introductions, so it would figure that if you’re joining a team remotely it may take even longer for yours to become a familiar face. On your first day, it’s a good idea to send around an email introducing yourself – if your manager doesn’t get there first! It doesn’t need to be too detailed: “Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m the new Commercial Property Associate. I’m looking forward to working with you all!”
For the first few days, it may be useful to reintroduce yourself with your name and job title when speaking on a video call or contacting colleagues via email.
Know the team structure
In order to know who you can turn to when a need arises, it’s important for you to learn who does what job in your team. You should also look into contacts in HR, IT Support or any other department who you may need to work with or speak to.
Make sure you understand your role...
If you have an off the cuff question, or need a little nudge in the right direction, in the office you have colleagues and your manager there to help. However, when working from home it isn’t quite as easy. So, when starting a new job remotely, it’s vital that you learn everything you can about your goals and the best way to succeed in these. If anything about your role or responsibilities is unclear, or even if you just need to double check something, make sure to ask.
...but be flexible if things change
Although it’s very important to be aware of the duties of your new role, it’s also a skill to be flexible and aware of the possibility that some of your responsibilities may change for a time, particularly while people continue to get used to working from home.
Adapt to your team’s communication style
To make sure that you don’t miss out on any important information, and that your transition can be as smooth as possible, on your first day you should find out which channels of communication are used by your new team. Different members of your team may have different preferred communication tools - for example, if a quick question needs resolving some people would rather an instant message over a phone call.
Ask all the questions
When starting a new role remotely, it can be easy to misinterpret a brief. To ensure you deliver great work on time, ask as many questions as possible. Each time you’re set a new task, arrange a quick call to find out more about what the priorities are, your role in the project, and what you need to achieve.
Start to build relationships
It’s a great idea to start building relationships with your colleagues as early as possible. You could reach out to the people in your immediate team and invite them to 1-to-1 or team video calls to introduce yourself and get to know each other. As well as asking what they do in the team and about the projects they’re working on, you could find out about any hobbies and interests you may have in common. These informal catch ups should be a regular occurrence.
Remember to switch off
It’s understandable. It’s your first few weeks on the job and you want to give the best impression to your new boss and colleagues - this feeling can be intensified when you’re starting a new job remotely. However, you can only deliver your best when you’re maintaining a good work/life balance. Make sure to start and finish work on time, take regular breaks throughout the day, and turn your email notifications off over the weekend.
Best of luck to all legal professionals starting a new job remotely in the coming weeks and months!