New job jitters are legit, whether you’re beginning your first internship or you’ve held a handful of full-time jobs before. If your new position is fully remote, the good news is you don’t have to keep asking your cubicle mate for directions to the bathroom — but you will have to navigate some new stressors. A big one: How do you actually meet your coworkers?
Lots of people can relate to the awkwardness of starting a new job remotely: Nearly half of Americans are working remotely full time, according to a Gallup poll from last year. And with record numbers of people changing jobs right now, there’s a good chance your coworkers went through a similar experience, too.
Here are some ways to make the process of starting a new remote job more seamless.
Make a list of people to meet
At an in-person job, you might take some time on your first day going around and meeting other people in the office. To manufacture that experience when you’re working remotely, create a list of people who you’d like to introduce yourself to, and set up 1-1 meetings during your first few weeks.
During these meetings, you can ask people to recommend at least one other person for you to meet in the company’s organizational chart, and they can even facilitate an introduction for you. If you’re not sure who the most relevant people are for you to connect with, you could ask your manager for a list.
Find time for non-work conversations
It takes a while to actually build rapport and connect on a meaningful level when the only time you have to chat is during the brief moments before a Zoom meeting starts.
Ask your coworkers if you can find time on their calendar purely to socialize and talk about non-work topics. For example, maybe you watch the same TV show and want to talk about it the morning after it airs? Or perhaps you have kids who are around the same age? Basically, find a way to recreate the watercooler or break room environment.
Meet someone IRL in your neighborhood
With more companies letting employees work from wherever, you might have far-flung coworkers who you never meet, and ones who are practically neighbors. Consider meeting up with a local coworker for an in-person walk or coffee. Sometimes an IRL meeting is just what you need to feel refreshed after back-to-back video calls.
Join Slack channels — and actually participate in them
Most remote companies have robust Slack channels for employees to connect over shared interests and build community. From dog lovers to book clubs to Peloton users, find out what the popular Slack channels are at your company and jump in.
Employee resource groups, aka “ERGs,” often have corresponding Slack channels where members share updates and information about upcoming activities. These voluntary groups are a great way to meet people with common identities, for example, many companies have a LGBTQ+ network or a group for BIPOC individuals.
Identify a new hire buddy
It’s a good idea to befriend someone in your onboarding session who joined around the same time as you. You’ll likely have some of the same questions, and can rely on one another as you get settled — even if you work in totally different sections of the company. For instance, they might be able to answer a question you have about using your new company technology or enrolling in benefits. At the very least, your buddy will be able to commiserate about the confusion of starting a remote job.
Use a virtual “matchmaker”
Cold-messaging someone you’ve never met before can be a little intimidating. But if your workplace uses Slack heavily, there are helpful plug-ins that can facilitate virtual introductions for you.
Donut, for example, pairs you randomly with people across the organization and even helps you find a convenient time to meet based on your schedules. Shuffl is another plug-in that prompts employees to write bios before matching people.
Ultimately, remember that nobody expects you to have everything figured out on your first day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when they come up — people are usually more than happy to help.
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