Prior to 2020, the idea of working remotely or from home had this exotic sense of luxury attached to it. After all, you could go to meetings in sweatpants, do you work from the comfort of your couch, and take a moment to pet your cats whenever you felt like it. To be honest, it was a dream for many of us — some far-off fantasy that we’d likely never achieve.
But then COVID-19 happened, and everything flipped upside down. Today, more than 40% of American’s are currently working from home. And while, truthfully, the arrangement does have its fair share of advantages, it also comes with its own set of challenges — especially for new hires.
Take it from me. I started a new position at Infinity Marketing just one week after the country (for lack of better description) came to a screeching halt. Here’s what my experience — and perhaps the experience of many other new hires — has been like since March 2020.
When I interviewed with Infinity in early March, working remotely had never crossed my mind — especially since I live just a short drive away from the office. Little did I know, the universe had other plans in mind. The same day that the U.S. declared a national health emergency, Infinity shifted every single one of their employees to working remotely — just like that.
So, imagine my surprise when I still received an offer letter that same evening with plans to onboard remotely. Now, I’ll admit, this process could have been far more challenging for me than it turned out to be. Luckily, Infinity operates like a well-oiled machine. If no one had told me I joined the team on only their second week of working from home, I would have thought they’d been doing it this way all along. That said, the process wasn’t without its challenges.
Starting any new job can be tough, but onboarding from home in a pandemic was an entirely different experience. My first three months felt, at times, like an emotional rollercoaster. I had the highs of excelling in a new position and industry, as well as the lows of feeling crippled by new obstacles that were made more challenging by my working-from-home environment.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The concept of working from home may not be new, but the process of onboarding all new hires remotely is something that many businesses had little to no experience with prior to COVID-19 — including Infinity.
Every new process is sure to have its growing pains, but with every challenge, there are opportunities to learn, grow, and improve. That’s why it’s important to maintain consistent communication and raise a hand when things are getting to be too much.
In truth, remote onboarding is probably less than ideal, and if the pandemic were removed from the picture, most companies would likely choose to train new employees on site before cutting them loose to work from home.
That doesn’t mean that the process is impossible, however. In fact, through my experience of onboarding remotely, I was able to learn new lessons and conquer new hurdles that I might not have encountered had I been on site. With the right mindset, resources, and approach, remote onboarding doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
That’s why I’ve put together a helpful list of some of the things I’ve learned from my remote working experience. Below, you’ll find all the silver linings, pitfalls, and things to keep in mind that I wish I knew before starting my working from home journey.
For now, the days of sitting in traffic for 30 minutes just to go five miles down the road are a thing of the past. No more zooming into the company parking lot just as the clock hits 8. Now, you can hit dismiss on your alarm, roll out of bed, pop open the old laptop, and start checking emails — if that’s how you want to do it.
For me, I think it’s important to keep your morning routine as close to normal as you can. Get up at the same time you would even if you were commuting. This will help you maintain the distance between your “work time” and your “home time,” and it can also help you retain a consistent schedule.
Nowadays, your coworkers aren’t just don’t the hall (unless you live with them). That means that you’re no longer taking quick trips down to their offices to ask questions, you’re not heading across the building for meetings, and, in general, you’re probably walking less.
Try to remain aware of how much you’re moving around. Get up every thirty minutes or so. Pace around your house or apartment. Do some stretches. This will not only help get your blood flowing and shake off the rust from your brain, but it’ll help ensure that your new working-from-home lifestyle isn’t taking a toll on your body.
Without travel, coffee breaks, hallway chats, and trips to the water fountain, chances are you’ve earned quite a bit of time back in your schedule. Take advantage of it! Use those extra moments to knock out a few quick tasks, catch up on emails, or even fold a quick load of laundry while your coffee’s brewing. At the end of the day, you’ll be surprise by how much you can get done — both at work and at home.
Mastering new skills and techniques can be a challenge with any new position, but when working from home, it can feel impossible. Remember, you’re not alone. Lean on your team. Have grace with yourself. Raise your hand when things aren’t making sense. If you can’t get the support you’re looking for through instant messaging, schedule a video chat. Have someone share their screen and walk you through the process. Take plenty of notes, ask questions, and take a deep breath. You got this.
Thanks to virtual meeting software like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, you’ll find that face-to-face meetings are by no means dead. In fact, you might find that you’re having more of them than ever before. Use these opportunities to put faces with names, create connections, and be grateful that endless, faceless conference calls are a thing of the past.
Working from home has caused our team to miss out on connecting with coworkers on many different levels. We’ve had to cancel events and miss out on in-person meetings, and the sheer lack of high fives has been devastating.
But we mustn’t despair! There are plenty of ways to remain connected with your coworkers. Chat throughout the day through instant messaging, make time to share memes and gifs with your friends, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Better yet, next time you need to hash out the details about a quick project, start a video chat. Find opportunities to make those connections. Your coworkers will be glad you did.
It’s no secret: When the pandemic hit, businesses took a major punch to the gut. As a result, many people lost their jobs, and many are still searching for opportunities today. I was one of the relatively few that was lucky enough to be on the opposite side of that spectrum.
I found a company that still wanted to hire me despite how extraordinarily uncertain the world was. Despite all the challenges and all the hurdles, I’ve gained a genuine appreciation for each and every opportunity I’ve been given — in a way that I might not have had life been, you know, normal. I have a new, different sense of gratitude for my job and for the people I’ve been able to meet (virtually) along the way.
If I’m being honest, starting a new position working from home during this pandemic was scary. It was also one of the best things I’ve ever done.
If you find yourself in a position to start a new job remotely, I say to dive right in. While you may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and overcome with anxiety at times, know that it will pass. These feelings come with the territory of starting something new, and if you have an amazing team beside you (like I do) to help you along the way, you will get the swing of things in no time. Working remotely is a lifestyle and it is up to you to decide how to make the most of it.