Graduating & Starting Work During The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

 

Disclaimer: I must inform readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to me James Kainth, and not necessarily to my employer, organization, committee or any other group or individual.

Lol Yes, That is New. Look at me I’m cool I get to put that disclaimer on some of my posts now 😉 Did I necessarily need to yet…probably not but hey, only the paranoid survive.

The new company I recently joined, has been phenomenal so far in my first week working for them. When I was applying for jobs one of my selection criteria was the ability to travel, it’s funny because now we’re all grounded. Nevertheless, a post COVID world will still have clients needing consultants to fly on site. You would think it would be challenging to get your new hires to stay engaged sitting on a WebEx or a Zoom for 8 hours straight, but believe it or not, not for my company. I’ve only been interacting with my new peers and soon to be friends for a week but I believe together, partnered with the positive culture of my new organization, we’re setting an example of how to adapt and get through these tough times. So what are somethings that I’m doing to stay sane? And what are the good and bad of onboarding to a company remotely?

Good Habits & Tips for Staying Engaged on Work Calls:

  1. Be Visible: Being a new employee in a new organization can be nerve wracking, especially to a recent graduate. Even better, being on a remote call with a bunch of other people you barely know and can’t even meet yet until probably next year! So firstly something you should keep in mind is your visibility. Please, put your webcam on! We’re all quarantined and barely get to see new people so, putting a face to someone is important. When joining an organization you wanna make sure people know you. It’s much easier to talk to people in person, and when you’re in the office folks see you everyday. Being seen is relatively easy. Now being on a WebEx where your face is shrunk down to 2 times it’s size, not so much. Now I’ve definitely done some stupid things already to make myself seen (in typical James fashion, fail fast right? 😛) All jokes aside, one of the biggest things you ought to be doing is asking questions, and making comments. It’s hard to speak up on a call with other people trying to speak at the same time I know, but you have to get your head in there. Wait for everyone to be finished and when you feel that awkward pause, go for it! With questions, it’s a simple Google search “great questions to ask your mentors” or “awesome questions to ask your new boss”. Here’s a couple I like… ”What’s an essential lesson you learned as a result of failure?” … ”Is there a particularly affective strategy for achieving success in my position?” The number 1 thing you wanna make sure you’re doing is adding value, if not just for yourself, but others too.

  2. Setup A Work From Home Space(WFH) & Test It: This one is something everyone should have figured out by now, this far into the pandemic. It’s important because when you come into this space everyday and so often, it helps in training your brain to focus. For me it’s my bedroom desk. I wouldn’t recommend using your bedroom as your WFH space simply because it’s also the same space you’re suppose to relax, rest, and sleep. I have problems resting/relaxing in bed as it is, so for me it doesn’t make too much of a difference, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. I like my brain on all the time, I’m constantly thinking, imagining, and no matter what I do I can’t turn it off, so I get away with working a few feet from my bed. If you prefer to keep your bedroom as a sacred space, try moving to your living room. Wherever it is, just be consistent, otherwise it won’t work as a place to focus. Test it out for a week, ask your family/roommates not to disturb you as you’re working and will be on call. If you have kids, it could be useful to maybe have some snacks and toys handy nearby in case they come looking for Mom/Dad, that way you can give them something to put in their mouths or to distract them during important times in a call where you have to speak, or be the center of attention on the call.

  3. Test Your Equipment: Don’t be one of those people who have their mic on a super sensitive setting, trust me. There’s nothing worse when you’re on a call and having to listen to someone’s spit sloshing in their mouth as they talk about differential equations. In addition to checking your mic, it’s important when you’re on video to check your background. You don’t want to be on your phone call with your coworkers and your bed is a mess, or your sister is walking back and forth behind you. Turn on your webcam and test out to see what your coworkers will see when you’re on call. Make sure there’s not client/sensitive data on a whiteboard behind you and if I see you on a call I can zoom in and see your wifi password sticker. Just be aware of things along those lines, of your surroundings in general!

  4. Talk To Your Coworkers: I can’t express this enough. I’m starting in a new company with new friends, and new managers, etc. I don’t know anyone, and they don’t know me. In addition to making yourself as visible as you can, and having your camera on, you want to get to know your peers. If the company is doing right they’ll have some team activities for you to do. Even if it’s learning about a new resource and making a power point presentation, being able to talk to a new coworker 1 on 1 about things, and work together is invaluable. Especially when you’ve been talking to the same lovable goofball of a sister you have all summer. Get to know your coworkers by having 1 on 1s or adding a few more people like maybe a 4/5 personal call as oppose to 20! I know we want to get to know as many people, and once we get to a Post Covid Era, we’re gonna be able to go talk to anyone we want, but until then we have to get to know individuals/make new friends 1 on 1 or, in small groups. Talking to people even though on a Google Meet/WebEx/Zoom also helps tackle some feelings of loneliness I’m sure a lot of peeps are having, being stuck at home and not being able to go out too much.

  5. Go Outside & Get Some Exercise: Before work every morning I go for a short but effective run. It’s only a mile(I’m working on increasing the distance 🙂 ) so the max time it takes for me is 10mins to put my shoes and then go at it. After work I spend an hour outside with my family on our deck, checking on our garden, and shooting the occasional arrow. Then we sit down for 30mins of Wheel of Fortune! The importance here is that in addition to counteracting being in a chair for 8 hours I also have a semblance of a routine.

  6. Dress Up: Literally. All you need to do is dress your upper body it’s not that hard. Wear a shirt and tie your first week because it shows you care, and can put in the effort. It also works towards making yourself seen. If you want to go commando, hey that’s between you and your chair 🤣🤣 but as long as the upper body where the camera view is looks professional, you’re doing good. After the first week, if the company say’s you’re good to dress business casual, then you’re done. You did your job during the first week of making a good first impression (at least appearance wise 😉 )

Reflecting On Week 1 @ a Big Company Working Remote:

  1. Remote Icebreakers: Yes. I know. I know. We all hate those awkward games we all have to play to get to know each other, and all the random answers we have to give for a ‘fun’ fact about ourselves. You thought you could get away being a remote employee? Nope, BUT that’s okay! Here’s why. My company did the smarter move and embraced the weird and fun of icebreaking. They had us do a scavenger hunt around our house! Go get a fridge magnet of some place you’ve been to? Got it! Go get a house plant that you enjoy? Lucky bamboo, got it! Go and get a watermelon!?!?! No don’t got that 😂 but what the hilarity ensue as your peers go get random fruits and vegetable they have around the house to see if they can get the point, or better yet actually bring a half eaten watermelon on camera!! All in good fun! Lean into the humor of things. HUMOR is one of the most underrated tools in anyone’s tool box. I know I leverage it as much as I can!(Much of the examples in this post are exaggerated for humor specifically!) When everyone is laughing and smiling on a remote Zoom/WebEx, you know you’re doing something right!

  2. Keeping New Hires Engaged Remotely: You would be surprised how useful simply having some of your best employees come into one call can be. One of my favorite things, the company had done everyday was a Q&A at the end! Not just with other people in and around your potential team, but as a new hire I was able to get to talk to Vice Presidents in the company and even Executives so high they report to C-Suite!! I’ll admit being able to talk to some of the folks I’ve literally gone to conferences and seen, or watch presentations they’ve given since I was a first-year in college, was wild! Ngl, I had to control myself from having a couple fanboy moments, but it’s ok. It’s alright James, we’re professionals now too, control yourself, cool down relax, chill. turns on Desk Fan 🤣🤣 Having Q&A Sessions in general are extremely useful because it takes the pressure off having to figure out the right person to ask a question, since they’re either on the call, or someone who knows is. “Which tax forms do I fill out since I’m a remote employee for this year and a non-resident of the state?”…”Hmm that’s a good question, ask [this person] in HR” Gucci! Ez-pz! With these Q&A Sessions however. You as the new employee should make sure you have questions to ask, and make sure the quality of questions are good, as they can reflect on if you’re genuinely engaging, or if you’re just asking a question for the sake of it.

  3. Having Virtual Lunch Together: It’s simple as leaving the meeting call open and if that day you feel like staying to chat and listen to coworkers/potential friends joke and laugh, do it. However, understandably sometimes, we all need to just get up and go to a different room, and take a break away from a screen during these remote times.

  4. Having Well Timed Breaks: Although the concept and idea is easy, it’s pretty underrated. After all you’re sitting in a chair getting stiff on camera for hours, it’s helpful to get up move around, and take ‘biobreaks’ when needed.

All in all, I’m extremely hyped to get to work for a company that so far is doing a phenomenal job in my eyes, granted it’s only been a week, and I haven’t even gone to the office yet! 😜

These Global Pandemic Coronavirus times are not fun at all, but together we’ll get through it!