So you’ve landed a graduate job. Congratulations! Celebrate, reward yourself for your perseverance and hard work, and rest before starting your new job.
When your start date does come around, don’t worry if you feel a little apprehensive about starting your new job from your bedroom, shared flat or family home.
There are many advantages to remote working, from accessibility (location isn’t a barrier) and cost effectiveness (no expensive commutes), to improved technical skills (Zoom proficiency is now a key addition to any graduate CV) and enhanced soft skills (self-discipline and organisation).
Nevertheless, 2020’s hottest workplace trend comes with its downsides. It can be difficult enough to bond with new colleagues and get noticed by a busy manager, but these can be even more challenging when you’re not sharing an office environment. You may also struggle to stay motivated while working from home and may experience of lack of confidence when asking questions or seeking help.
We got in touch with a few graduates who have recently started new jobs remotely. Some finished their degree and found themselves starting their first grad job from home. Others graduated a while ago and settled into office life before having to adjust to remote working overnight. Here, they reveal their top tips for starting a new job from home.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more communication from those you work with. In my experience, everyone understands that starting a new job remotely is hard and a lot of the general chat present in an office is missing, so they’re really up for making sure they have a bit more time to chat, whether that’s work or non-work related.
Also, asking for more communication from your manager shows you’re interested and invested in the company.
– Nicole (BA American Studies, 2020)
Think you’re muted? No you’re not. Check again. Think you’re sharing your screen where you may or may not be having a conversation you don’t want broadcasted? Yes you are. Check again.
– Jay (Mathematics PhD, 2017)
The shift from an office-based job to a completely new remote mode of working has been strange, but it’s easy to navigate once you know what you’re doing. There are a few things that have helped me:
- Have a notebook to jot down ideas/meeting plans/actions for the day or week. Having a physical copy helps me to keep track of what I’m doing and allows me to focus on something other than my computer.
- Create a weekly plan of tasks that need to be done. I find the importance matrix to be extremely helpful as I can prioritise tasks and plan out my week accordingly, without getting overwhelmed by the smaller, less important tasks.
- If you’re in control of your virtual meetings, schedule them with a small break in between. Regular breaks really help you to re-focus on the next task and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Music is really helpful in maintaining focus, especially when working on a long project. My go-to genre right now is Disco!
- I don’t have a separate desk so I use my dining table for work (and sometimes the sofa), so putting away my laptop and notes helped me to separate the ‘home office’ and the ‘dining space’, so my home feels like my actual home after I clock out.
– Agata (BSc Psychology, 2017)
Factor breaks and exercise into your day. This will help you to decompress and feel refreshed!
– Stuart (Synthetic Organic Chemistry PhD, 2020)
When starting a new job remotely I missed the usual rapport-building interactions you have in a shared office space or from walking to meetings with your colleagues. My tip when starting a new role is to try and recreate these opportunities through team group chats, for example through MS Teams, where you can talk without the email formalities. Also, it is tempting to work through lunch when at home – don’t! I like to have a Netflix series on the go and watch an episode during my lunch break to make sure I am not tempted to ‘answer just one more email’. You will achieve more in the long run by allowing yourself the time to recharge and revisit tasks with a new perspective.
– Ashley (BA Politics, 2012)
And it wouldn’t be a Careers Service article without a few tips from our very own staff, who have been offering support and services remotely since March:
Try to get some daylight each day: especially during winter. Make the effort to get a lunch break and get outside for a walk, run or cycle.
I have found that sitting at a desk (if possible) makes it feel more work-like and helps posture – and get a nice pot plant or picture that you like close by. Oh, and leave the dog downstairs as they can be a bit vocal in meetings.
If using a laptop, elevate on a stand, box or pile of books so the top of the screen is at eye level and invest in an external mouse and keyboard. It’s the single best thing you can do to improve posture and minimise discomfort.
Employers like the fact that new employees bring in fresh ideas so if you want to start a new thread on MS Teams or a lunchtime activity then this could be not only an opportunity to show initiative but also connect you with more people – maybe a lunch pop quiz?
Get used to Zoom shortcuts. Also, many employers will now have a policy on backgrounds, profile image etc., but having these things ready and professional in case you need them would also be good.
Eating while on in a virtual meeting is a no-no, and some will say drinking while online is a no-no too. It is easy to forget however, especially after being in back-to-back meetings, that you are on camera, so be conscious of what you do. You may be able to switch your camera off if it’s a presentation or during a long meeting (just check if that’s okay with the host first!).
It’s essential to continue boosting your skills and employability throughout your graduate career. Check out our top tips for upskilling as a recent graduate. And remember, you can continue to use the Careers Service for up to two years after finishing your course. Find out more about your graduate careers support package.