If you’re starting a new job soon, you’ll likely be onboarding virtually until the Covid-19 pandemic is under control.  

After grieving the loss of a potentially epic orientation filled with company swag and introductions, the reality of the situation begins to set in.

There will be no perks. No catching up with a familiar face in the hallway; and worst of all, no company sponsored lunches. 

Today, virtual onboarding is no longer new and many of the kinks have been ironed out. Nevertheless, there are some lessons only time can teach. Starting a new job remotely can be overwhelming and hard. 

If you’re just getting started with a new company, here’s some advice:

To Fellow Newbies Onboarding Virtually

Focus on Small Wins

Onboarding can feel like drinking from a proverbial hose. Virtual newbies are trying to impress new teammates, look good on VC, attend 15 meetings per day (plus a team happy hour), and read endless onboarding documents. Any one of these things would be stressful on its own, let alone all at once.

Luckily, there’s no need to get all of them today. We humans tend to overestimate what we can accomplish short-term while underestimating what we can accomplish in the long-term.

To go further, harness the power of small wins.

By focusing on getting settled and learning as much as you can the first day, first week, and up to the first 3 months, you relieve the cognitive load these activities can produce. This means you’re already a winner on day one!

Have a Start and End Time to Your Day

If we were heading into a physical office everyday, there’d be a certain time to get there, log in, get stuff done, and eventually leave. That separation of home and office is healthy and can still exist in quarantine. If you know your work style and preferred hours, share that info with your manager.

Talk to People Outside of Your Team

Meeting fellow newbies is great. But we’re all just newbies, grasping for the same thing: some sort of signal, context and feeling that we too are part of a fabric employees here before us know all too well.

Early on in my onboarding journey, a colleague mentioned reaching out to the people who interviewed her and how those connections were still strong until this day. I thought that idea was brilliant, and set out to do the same. 

Those meetings were a breath of fresh air. There was no work talk, just a genuine welcome to the team.

These days, I’ve made meeting new people a tradition. If your new company is on the large side, start meeting new people outside of your team as soon as you can. It will help you get a clearer picture of the company overall. 

Forget the “Authentic Self”, Bring the “Easy Self”

Company cultures can vary widely. If you’re going from a traditional culture into one that’s more open, it can be a bit of a culture shock.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable, remember this: bringing your whole self to work is a suggestion, not a mandate.

Bringing your whole self to work is a suggestion, not a mandate.

What you owe your team is to be good at your job. It’s OK to have boundaries over your authenticity. It’s OK to choose which parts of yourself to bring to the virtual table. You have the freedom to be. Grab it.

Some Final Thoughts

Acclimating to a new job is never easy. And doing it remotely can make things especially tricky. Cut yourself some slack — actually, a lot of slack — and ask for help if you need it.


Featured photo of Ursula Lauriston by Pablo Rya

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Ursula Lauriston is the Founder & Chief Digital Strategist at CAPITOL STANDARD. A dynamic speaker and syndicated writer, she's been featured in Business Insider, Huffington Post, The Vault, Washington Post, and more.