How to Shine as a New Starter in the World of Hybrid Working
Getting started in your career can simultaneously be hugely exciting and extremely daunting! There has been a notable shift in the market post-pandemic with greater flexibility, more hybrid working and changes in the work culture. Whilst this flexibility carries with it so many positives such as enabling a better work/life balance, new starters should be aware of a greater need to be proactive in their communication and work harder to build relationships with their new colleagues.
In this article we catch up with Associate Consultant Abi who began her career during the pandemic, having completed her MA in Anthropology in 2021, via remote learning. After graduating, Abi began her career with a PR firm before joining VWA in May 2022. Drawing on her personal experience and her expertise as a Consultant, Abi has shared some great advice on how to approach those early days to help you get off to a positive start from day one.
The Virtual Interview Process
Whilst it is becoming increasingly rare for employees to be fully remote, the virtual interview process is here to stay. Although we are seeing a shift to in person interviews, 1st stage interviews are more often than not conducted virtually, with 2nd/3rd and final interviews more likely to take place in person.
Abi notes that online interviews from home can feel less stressful; being in your own environment and not having the anxieties of finding the office, relying on public transport etc. But in a virtual interview, it can be harder to make a strong first impression. You can read our full guide to virtual interview success here.
Successful Onboarding for Hybrid Workers
For Abi, this was a completely remote process with daily online calls with different teams across the company. She found that the exposure was great but without meeting colleagues in person, she needed to be more self-sufficient from day one and not be afraid to approach people to ask questions and remind them of her capacity to work.
Many new roles these days include a balance of office and home working, so there are more opportunities to meet your Manager and colleagues in person. As company cultures differ, you will find some are more organised than others when it comes to onboarding a new employee.
Don’t be afraid to seek out the people to meet and proactively request meetings with them yourself. Think in advance of questions you’d like to ask them and try to identify any knowledge gaps you have prior to the meeting.
This is a continuation of above really. Days 1, 2 and 3 for you could coincide with days 546, 547 and 548 for a colleague and they will inevitably have a long to-do list and be busy in the middle of projects. Some may be hesitant to give work to a new starter and if you are working from home, you really can be out of sight, out of mind!
Be proactive in communicating with everyone and remind them of your capacity to support them. At the same time, be considerate and efficient with your communication. If you have some questions, ask for a suitable time to meet up and then ask your questions in one go. Avoid pinging constant messages as this could drive even the most patient colleague a little crazy!
It can be hard to set yourself boundaries and maintain a healthy balance, especially when you are starting out and keen to establish yourself. Being in the office can make it a little easier to remember to take short breaks or take a walk at lunch. But on home-working days when you are working alone, it is easy to forget to step away from the screen or finish working at decent hour. For Abi, home-working was at her parents’ house and all three of them would work in separate rooms and meet up at lunchtime. It was a big adjustment for them all! Remember it is important for your health and wellbeing to step away and take short breaks. Also always try to switch off your laptop and put your work stuff away at the end of the day.
On a final note…
There are some great opportunities for grads/entry level candidates right now. Abi observes that the majority at this level are keen to find roles on the ground, in the office, where they can have that direct contact. Flexibility is here to stay with companies sustaining the shift towards more hybrid conditions, allowing for a positive home/work balance.
With a proactive attitude, great communication skills and a disciplined approach to home-working days, you can start out positively and go on to have a successful and rewarding career.
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