What It’s Like To Start A New Job Remotely

Published on June 4, 2020

Vicky Walters

Hi! I’m Victoria Walters, I’m Beeswax’s newest Solutions Consultant and, much to my mother’s consistent panic, I started a new job during a pandemic.

On March 30th at 9am in the morning, I came downstairs wearing a blazer and legitimate pants for the first time in nearly two weeks.  Beeswax had shipped me my new laptop a week or so prior and it was finally time to open it and start a new adventure.  Starting a new job is always unnerving.  In my experience it doesn’t matter if it’s a new role at the same company or a completely fresh start, in all cases there’s the knowledge that you’re going to have a lot to learn.  That said, this was certainly the weirdest way to start a new job that I have ever experienced.

I knew going in that Beeswax was a really great company to work for.  I’d been looking forward to my start date for a while but the details of my onboarding plan took me pleasantly by surprise.  Beeswax’s onboarding strategy is unlike anything I’ve seen prior.  The detailed Google Sheet that was given to me on day one had every step of my next six weeks broken out.  Even though I was onboarding remotely and had to provide my own seltzer, I never needed to worry about what I should be doing–the answer was in the Google Sheet.

My onboarding was plotted to take six-ish weeks.  For the first half I had daily check-ins with my manager and very regular communication with the rest of my team.  It was no secret that onboarding remotely was going to be very weird, and everyone at Beeswax really pushed to make sure I was supported. There is admittedly no substitute for running into coworkers at the keurig and forming working relationships in person, but I made the effort to set up one on one meetings with everyone that I thought I might be working closely with in future.  It was more formal and perhaps a little more awkward than it would’ve been to meet organically, but I really didn’t want to be three months in and have no one know what my face looked like.

In terms of the actual learning process, I was so impressed by the detail that had gone into my onboarding task list.  Every week I had a new set of readings, responsibilities and trainings to complete, and every Friday I had a “graduation test” of sorts.  Those ranged from presentations to mock client calls and whiteboardings.  Sure, it probably would’ve been easier for me to learn and present some things in a room with an actual whiteboard, but our need to work around that really demonstrated how creative the team at Beeswax is.  Did you know that if you tape your phone to a small table and put that table on top of your desk you can show yourself drawing something out by hand on Zoom?  Just make sure your giant candy stash isn’t viewable during the process (learn from my mistakes).

Naturally there are some cons to onboarding remotely.  I imagine these aren’t limited to those of us being onboarded during a pandemic.  My coworkers in our satellite offices must have had similar struggles.  If I have a question I can’t just say it aloud to anyone in earshot and expect help.  Shockingly my fiance has no idea what I mean when I start talking about honeycombs or king bees and has proven quite unhelpful.   Moreover, when I’m working through something and just need a second set of eyes for a few minutes, it might take an hour or two to get someone on slack.  Without team lunches I’m definitely missing a certain sense of belonging that probably won’t fully kick in until we’re back in the office.  More specifically to me, it’s incredibly unnerving that I’ve worked at Beeswax for almost two months and have no idea where my desk is located or what the best snack in the kitchen is.  Plus, since I’ve only ever seen their heads, I cannot say with absolute certainty that none of my coworkers are merpeople.

All that said, it’s been a pretty awesome ride so far.  Having clear cut onboarding stages made it easy for me to know what I was supposed to be doing even while my office is my kitchen table and an old TV monitor.  My daily video chat check-ins with my manager helped keep me on track and the constant communication with the team made asking questions easy.  There was never a time when I couldn’t eventually get someone on a screen share with me to talk through the weird bid request I was looking at. I can’t pretend that I wouldn’t have preferred to be in the office for my first days/weeks/months, but I’m proud to work for a company that has been working hard to flatten the curve and values the safety of its employees.

Yes, it’s super weird that I’ve worked at Beeswax for a month and a half and still don’t know where my desk is or what the best seltzer in the kitchen is, but I do know which of my coworkers have the cutest dogs. Plus, I’m going to have such a great origin story at company happy hours (someday).

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