5 Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Starting a Job During the Pandemic
So, you started a new job during a pandemic. You sign on to your new email address where you see emails from people you do not know. You open your new organization’s mode of communication – Slack, Gchat, Teams – and you sit there thinking, ‘oh no, my old job and coworkers were so familiar and now I know no one and I might never even physically meet these people–what have I done!?’
First, take a step back and take a deep breath: you have overcome challenges before and you will overcome this challenge, too. Second, “Familiarity doesn’t help you grow.” – Audrey Lee, my former coworker and forever confidant. While these words may not be the words you want to hear right now, she is right. You’ve decided to embark on this new journey, and while I know you will grow during these times, I have some tips to make it easier. And trust me, as someone who started a new job from her living room during a pandemic, I know what you’re going through.
1. Say Yes
If you have the chance to join a new employee happy hour, in-person or online, say yes. If you have the chance to participate in workshops offered by your organization, say yes. If you have the chance to join a slack channel, even if it’s about dogs (especially if it’s about dogs), say yes!
When I began my new job here at Media Cause in May 2021, I knew I would not only be facing new professional challenges but personal challenges, too. I’ve always been very close with my coworkers so starting a new job remotely was especially difficult. But then I found out Media Cause plans weekly “Coffee Chats” where we meet up with another person and chat for 10-15 minutes. I can feel some of you tense up with anxiety just at the thought of meeting up with a stranger, over the computer, to talk about god knows what but, I encourage you to face that challenge head-on! Take this opportunity, or others like it, to say yes and meet your coworkers in a new way. To ease you into that possibly awkward situation, I have borrowed some Coffee Chat prompts from the ever wonderful, Sarah Ackerman, Director, Copy + Content at Media Cause:
- What are you reading?
- Do you have any pets?
- What are their nicknames?
- Do you like sharks?
- Do you celebrate shark week?
- Do you like to listen to music as your work?
- What kind of music do you enjoy?
- What’s your favorite type of candy?
- Do you like gummies, chocolate, or a different kind of candy?
2. Turn Your Camera On
I know. I KNOW! It’s been almost two years of remote work and you have celebrated birthdays, weddings, holidays, shark week, and everything in between on Zoom, but hear me out. When you are beginning your new job, it’s important to build rapport with your coworkers through visual communication, especially if you work closely with them. As Fast Company said, “People can see your nonverbal behaviors and get a sense of your mood, your manner, and your mindset. These factors all help to communicate a sense of openness. This, in turn, tends to encourage others to share, building a positive reinforcing loop.” But hey, once you feel more comfortable with your coworkers, turn that camera off when you need a break. Your mental health is important, too!
3. Get to Know Your Intranet
I’ve met a few intranets in my day and some are more helpful than others but no matter what, take time to look through yours for helpful information. When I began my job at Media Cause, I jumped into our intranet, The Hub, and poked around for a few hours. It became such an important bucket of knowledge for me that I bookmarked it for easy access. If you find your organization’s intranet doesn’t meet all your needs, feel free to start building out one for yourself. Create a folder and save documents as you find them useful so you can be your own intranet.
4. Speak Up!
It can be hard/impossible to have “drive-by” conversations with your coworkers or “around the watercooler” discussions about a challenging client when you are working remotely, so it’s important to speak up when you are facing challenges. Reach out to your manager or someone else on your team when you need to talk through something or need extra support. Your team is there to support you so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. And remember, express your gratitude for their time and support as another way to build those meaningful relationships with your coworkers in a remote situation.
5. Show Grace
This might be one of the most important lessons I have learned during my six months at a new job during a pandemic – grace. Showing grace to myself and to others during this time has allowed me to accept our imperfections as we try to cope, together, through a pandemic. Everything changed for all of us in 2020 and it’s important to give yourself the grace and the space to work through all the challenges you’ve faced in that time, including starting a new job.