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A New Employer: 8 Steps to Put Your Best Foot Forward

A New Employer: 8 Steps to Put Your Best Foot Forward

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    When you’re fist starting out at a new job, it can be difficult to find your footing. You’re probably transitioning from a job or other environment where you knew everything from how to get the coffee pot going to who to ask for help with the filing system. In a new office, that’s probably no longer the case. You have to learn just about everything from scratch — even if you have the ideal skill set for a given job, you’ll be learning how to use those skills all over again within the framework your new employer expects you to use. New starts are certainly not impossible, but there are some ways to make them a little smoother.

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    1. Write it all down: I realize that it may feel like you’re less that prepared if you write down every piece of advice your new coworkers and supervisors dispense, but having it in writing means that you won’t have to ask a second time. Noting routines and processes — and perhaps the occasional password — can help, even if you’re only taking notes when no one’s looking. If you are writing down passwords and other sensitive information, it’s up to you to keep that information safe. Once you feel comfortable that you’ve committed it to memory, it may be worth shredding such material.
    2. Be social: A new job is not the place to be shy. Most offices have at least some level of politics, and you aren’t exempt just because you’re the new guy or gal. The best protection you can have is to be at least sociable with your coworkers. Once you do, you’ll get the tips on information like who to avoid, who’s able to help you with particular issues and so forth.
    3. Do your work, but don’t push: It may sound strange to avoid pushing for new projects or big changes when you’re first starting out at a new company. You may want to be seen as a go-getter or you may even have been brought on for the purpose of changing things up. But give it a little time before you start pushing — even waiting a week can be enough to tell you what project you really want to join or what problems you’re going to face when changing something.
    4. Connect outside of work: If your coworkers invite you out to lunch or offer to meet up outside of work, it’s worth the time to do so. It’s even worth the expense of a lunch out if you normally brown bag — your coworkers can make your workplace more comfortable, and they can be a valuable part of your network down the road as well. Connecting outside of work can mean more than in person, as well. Make a point of adding your coworkers as connections on LinkedIn and other networking sites.
    5. Make your desk home: Even if you share a workspace, you can make your area a little easier to work in. A favorite picture or a poster can make your space feel more welcoming and adjusting your equipment to make it easier to use just makes sense. Keep it within reason, of course — especially if you share the area with someone else, you don’t want to make your space seem at all unprofessional.
    6. Check in with your supervisor: Not all managers will go out of their way to tell you if you’re doing your job correctly. That makes it important for you to seek out that information on your own, especially when you’re first getting started and can change your approach. You never want to wait until your first performance review to find out just how well your supervisor actually thinks you’re doing.
    7. Take care of the HR department: At every new job, there’s a huge stack of paperwork with your name on it. Human Resources needs you to fill out tax forms, retirement forms, insurance forms and more. The faster you can get those papers taken care of and turned in, the better. The same goes for any training or orientation. If you can keep the HR department happy, it’s worth the effort — after all, you probably won’t get a paycheck until your paperwork is complete.
    8. Learn by doing: There may be a lot of hoops you can jump through before you can actually sit down and do the job you were hired to do. But the fact of the matter is that you’ll learn more about how to interact with the rest of the company by actually completing some of your work. Even if you can only squeeze in fifteen minutes between orientation session, it’s worth your while. At the very least, you’ll probably have some useful questions for the next session.

    You don’t have to perfectly mesh with a new office on your first day. Adapting to a new company is a process: it’s important because you’ll be spending most of your day with these people, and you’re dependent on this employer to make sure that you have the money necessary to cover your bills. You don’t need to take in cookies for your new coworkers, but you do need to make a serious effort to adapt.

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    It’s worth noting that not all companies will be a perfect fit for you. If you’re having trouble adjusting to a new employer, you should give it your best effort but also be willing to walk away if there’s no hope of it working. It’s better to do that during your orientation period, if you can.

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

    Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

    One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

    When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

    So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

    Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

    This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

    Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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    When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

    Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

    One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

    Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

    An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

    When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

    Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

    Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

    We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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    By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

    Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

    While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

    I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

    You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

    Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

    When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

    Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

    Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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    Con #2: Less Human Interaction

    One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

    Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

    Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

    This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

    While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

    Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

    Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

    This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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    For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

    Con #4: Unique Distractions

    Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

    For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

    To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

    Final Thoughts

    Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

    We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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    Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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