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Starting a Job Remotely (Part 1)

After a year primarily viewed from windows and computer screens, Australians are looking forward to more freedom (I’m knocking on wood as I type this). But while social restrictions are lifting, our offices will probably remain dusty — at least for now. This means that, as more people continue to start new jobs and change positions, they’re facing what, for many, is a lot of anxiety: starting a job remotely.

The idea might be enough to turn some off from accepting a great position. Being the new person is hard, and doing it over Zoom isn’t any easier — especially when your cat won’t get off your desk. Instead of turning down a great chance, though, take a moment, take a breath, and make yourself a plan.

Get comfy

Change is stressful, so make sure that your space is not. Working from home may have its disadvantages, but it also means that we can have fun with our “office”. Hang art, arrange your plants and buy a chair that won’t destroy your back. While many of us have limited space to work with, you can still create something special: space in your home reserved for logging on. When you’re there, you’re at work. When you’re off, you’re not. If your desk is going to be a dinner table later, try setting it during work hours to create an office. This can look however you want, but whatever you do, make sure it’s a sustainable habit — don’t look for more to stress over!

Set Clear Boundaries

If you’ve already been working remotely, you know how easy it is to slip into bad habits. Maybe your alarm is set later than it used to be? Maybe you’ve developed an Instagram addiction? Perhaps your time in “the office” has migrated closer and closer towards (and after) dinner. (That transition from desk to table might not even exist anymore.)

Unless you’ve got some real willpower, eventually there’s going to be some slack. So, set yourself up well to begin with: be strict. Wake up with plenty of time to get ready. Take breaks. Eat without checking your email (try your best!) and set an alarm when it’s time to log off.

As the newest employee, you’re going to be slower at your job, and you probably won’t feel like you’re doing enough: certainly not when the normal channels of communication (bothering your desk-mate) are gone. It’s important to acknowledge this and to give yourself permission to end the day when that alarm goes off, even if you don’t feel like you’ve done enough. Often, we ask far more from ourselves than anyone else. Look at the first weeks as a time to learn: not to do the most, or to be perfect. Your employer hired you for the skills you have, not an understanding of how their business functions. No one expects you to know everything, and no one wants a burnt-out employee.

Get off your butt!

Just like it’s easy to let schedules slide, it’s easy to sit in your room all day. With no commute and no one in the office to visit or grab a coffee with, you can spend the whole day glued to a chair. As much as you may love your new, zen home office, get out! Make sure to go outside, to take a walk or even to invest in a standing desk. It’s more important than ever to take care of our mental health, and that includes looking after our bodies. Try setting a schedule to step away from the screen, to take a walk around the block and do some stretches.

The Future Exists

With the year coming to a close or just beginning as you start your new job, it’s a great time to remember the big picture. While the first few weeks in a new company might be a rollercoaster, there’s a future out there. Take a moment and look ahead. What are your goals for this job and for the next year? While individual days might not feel productive, it’s important to remember that you’re working towards something bigger than being the most efficient person in the office. Take some time to consider where you’d like to go, where you’d like to take this job and remember most things aren’t built in a day. 2020 was a rollercoaster, but now is a fresh start. Think about what you want to make of this opportunity, and then give yourself the time to arrive there.