6 tips for starting a new job remotely
Start your remote role with confidence by using these tips for working from home
Are you feeling nervous about starting a new remote role? The stressful job hunt might be over, but the worries about starting don't take long to creep in. Remote work has grown 140% since 2005, and the home office or co-working space come with their own challenges that are new to anyone who’s recently made the switch from face-to-face.
Technology has made it easier to overcome many of these hurdles and stay connected no matter where you are, so there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success. Keep reading for career advice that will give you more confidence starting your new remote job.
Here are 6 tips to help you start a new job remotely
Whether it’s your first time working from home or you’re a seasoned teleworker—taking time to prepare for a new role is invaluable. Here are 6 pieces of advice to help throw yourself into the world of teleworking:
1. Prepare your workspace
Office space is your place for productivity. It doesn’t matter if that office space is the desk in your bedroom or a beach in the Bahamas, starting a remote job means thinking carefully about your workspace.
One of the great things about working remotely is that you can set up your workspace however you want, but you must take some time to figure out what kind of environment will help you be the most productive.
There’s a strong case for cleaning clutter as research shows that a messy environment elevates cortisol levels and - in turn - leads to stress, anxiety, and lower productivity.
Do you need a dedicated space where you can close the door and focus? Do you work better with some background noise? Once you know what kind of environment you need, make sure your workspace is clean, comfortable, and has everything you need. Some things to include in your workspace:
- Invest in an ergonomic work chair
- Choose somewhere with lots of lights
- Position yourself away from distractions
To see more on how to keep your workspace in order, check out this post on “how to be a minimalist remote worker”.
2. Know how to build trust with your team
A 300-team study on employee-organization relationships found that a “mutual investment” in work relationships - where leaders and their team work on building better relationships - was a big indicator for the success of a business; predicting trust, performance, and overall attitudes.
If you're going to be successful in a remote role, it's critical your team members know they can trust you to do your job well—even if they can't see you working all the time. Here are some ways to build trust remotely:
- Build trust by over-communicating: let your team know what you're working on and how it's going on a regular basis
- Be available for video calls or chats when needed: Being available shows you're ready to work, not wasting time, and happy to help any team members that need you
- Make the effort outside of work: Try to build relationships with your teammates outside of work
3. Establish a routine and stick to it
When you're working remotely, it's easy to let work bleed into other parts of your life if you're not careful. That's why it's useful to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible. Decide what hours you're going to work each day, and make sure to take breaks when you need them.
It's also important to schedule time for things like exercise and socializing - just because you're working from home doesn't mean you should be glued to your desk all day.
Studies show that regular work routines use less cognitive energy and even “free cognitive resources that can be utilized for creative problem-solving”, so more than just being productive, routines can aid in your creative process.
4. Take breaks when needed
Work is not life (unless you’re a midwife). While you might love your job, don’t spend too many hours letting the job consume you. Research from 2011 found that giving something too much attention with no breaks negatively influenced performance.
It's productive to take breaks when you're working remotely or in the office. When you're staring at a computer screen all day, it's easy to get burnt out—so make sure to step away every once in a while. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, or just take five minutes to stretch or meditate. You'll come back feeling refreshed and ready to work again.
5. Stay organized and focus on one task
When you're working remotely, it's easy for things to start slipping through the cracks if you're not careful—after all, there's no one around to remind you of deadlines or upcoming meetings. That's why it's practical to stay organized and keep track of everything that's going on.
Daniel Levitin, a professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience, says that “the brain doesn’t multi-task” - instead, it “shifts rapidly from one thing to the next”. Ultimately, this impacts our ability to focus and leads to a “chemical addiction” of dopamine hits that come from multitasking.
To avoid these false rushes of productivity, write your tasks down and focus on one thing at a time. Use a calendar or scheduling tool like Google Calendar or Asana to stay on top of deadlines and write down your tasks, create folders, and use labels in your email inbox so important messages don't get lost.
Organize your documents with PDF software. PDF is used throughout the business world, so make the most of PDF tools that were designed to help you manage and organize your documents. Here are some ways the tools can help:
- Use the Organize PDF tool to create documents that contain only the most relevant information by adding, removing, and reorganizing PDF pages
- The Edit PDF tool lets you directly annotate and fill in original PDF documents
- eSign with the Sign PDF tool to request and sign legally binding documents online
- Save space and take paper documents anywhere by digitizing them with the Scan PDF tool
6. Don't be afraid to ask for help when needed
One of the benefits of working remotely is that there are usually more resources available than there are in an office setting—so don't be afraid to ask for help when needed.
Whether it's tech support for setting up your home office or advice from a more experienced coworker, there's no shame in admitting that you need some assistance every now and then.
Xuan Zhao is a Stanford social psychologist who suggests that we regularly underestimate others’ willingness to help, and that asking for help allows problems to be solved more effectively because they are better understood and out in the open.
As a remote role, the company should have created an online onboarding process to help with your questions. Make sure to be vocal about this from the beginning, and ask for guidance on this process if there is no strategy already in place. For more on remote onboarding, head to this post on “How to onboard somebody remotely in 6 steps”.
Questions to ask on your first day of remote work
In interviews or on the first day, asking questions is the key to unlocking your potential in a new role. It shows initiative and can take away your stress as you prepare yourself for the job. But what are some questions you should ask?
- What are good remote work practices for this role?
- How do I set up my home workstation?
- What software do I need for hybrid and remote work?
- How do I stay productive outside of the office?
- How do I communicate with my team effectively teleworking?
Set yourself up for success
Starting a new remote job can be exciting—but it can also be challenging if you're not prepared. By following these tips, you'll set yourself up for success in your new role: from arranging your workspace, establishing a routine, taking breaks, and staying organized—with all this you'll be on your way to thriving in your new position.
Don't forget: if you ever need any help, don't hesitate to get in touch with someone on your team—after all, everyone was new once, and your team are the ones with the knowledge to help you out.
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