What’s it like to start a new job without ever going to your new company’s office? For this article, I asked three finance professionals about their experience of joining a new company in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and how remote work arrangements affected their new job.
The biggest challenge people mentioned was the difficulty of getting to know new colleagues without seeing them every day and becoming familiar with them through lunches, small office interactions, etc. Conference calls are more difficult to follow when you don’t know who everyone is and what they do, and it can be uncomfortable for a new business partner to question ideas or suggest alternatives when they have never met their colleagues in person.
Information flows differently when teams are working remotely, and this also presents challenges for new hires. Outside the office, it’s not always clear what work is most urgent, and people can’t give you immediate feedback when you are not communicating face-to-face. If you ask a question in an email, it might take a day or longer for you to get an answer. This means that new hires have to be proactive about getting information, and they usually need to take the first step in reaching out to new colleagues to arrange calls, etc.
Perhaps the hardest part about starting a new job in 2020 is leaving your old job, and one professional told me that the handover at his previous company was very difficult. Handovers can take a long time in normal business circumstances, and it’s even harder and more time-consuming when everything is done through emails and video calls.
Fortunately, starting a new job like this isn’t all bad news, and everyone I spoke with also saw some positives about the experience. People appreciated the time saved by not commuting to work, which frees up time for things like calls with other time zones, or doing some exercise and getting a good night’s sleep after a long day in a new job. One of the companies started doing weekly town hall meetings during the pandemic to help staff stay connected to the company while working outside the office, and this was very helpful for someone who had just joined.
As I mentioned in a previous article, now is not the best time for most people to change jobs, but there are still some exceptional opportunities for ambitious finance professionals who want to take a step up in their career. Starting a new job always brings a few challenges, and by now companies have had several months to adapt and put in place better systems to help new hires. Many offices are beginning to reopen for a few days a week, and I hope this article helps people to understand that, in reality, starting a new job remotely is not that scary. If it makes sense for you to change jobs in 2020, don’t let fear hold you back.