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5 Things to Know About Joining a Workplace Remotely

5 Things to Know About Joining a Workplace Remotely

Reflections and advice by Jamie Hill, Marketing Coordinator here at Gateway Theatre

About two weeks after COVID-19 was declared a public emergency in the province of British Columbia, I began working at Gateway Theatre, a live performing arts organization in Richmond, BC. I say my work is in Richmond, but in reality, I work from my home in Vancouver—it’s been two months and I am yet to meet my coworkers in the flesh. It’s a little nerve-wracking adjusting to remote work and a new position all at once, but it’s something many job-seekers are now tackling as organizations the world over are hiring through virtual means. Here’s a little first-day advice for virtual onboarders from someone who’s been through it.

1. First things first: set up your home office
If the organization you are interested in has no concrete plans to return to the office, confirm what tools you’ll need to work from home and whether your workplace will be providing you with any equipment. My workplace delivered chairs, screens, and other supplies from the office to our homes as needed, but other organizations might expect you to be fully equipped from the get-go. Get your hands on an ergonomic chair if you can!


2. Get over your question discomfort
Prepare to feel discomfort when asking questions, and prepare to get over it quickly. This hadn’t been a huge issue for me in the past, but has been since working remotely; it’s much harder to clarify the little things when you can’t pop by someone’s desk, and sometimes it’s painful to type out a question you find silly or small and send it off in an email. Save up questions for your check-ins with your supervisor, or ask if you can chat very briefly over the phone. Whatever you do, don’t let it keep you from learning and improving.

3. Get to know your coworkers in a uniquely virtual way
The water cooler is gone, but there is an intimacy that is unique to remote work. Suddenly, you can see into the homes and lives of your coworkers—you get to know their pets, kids, partners, taste in art and choice of wallpaper. Prepare yourself to be a bit more open about your home life. I have a pet lovebird, something I don’t usually reveal about myself straight away. That wasn’t much of an option when everyone could hear her squawking away on our Zoom calls!

4. Thoroughly investigate your workplace’s structure and dynamics
As grateful as I am that my workplace has daily check-ins with all staff (I live alone, and appreciate any semblance of human contact) when everyone occupies different spaces, you don’t see how different departments would typically interact with one another. I have only known the hive mind of the almighty Zoom call, and so learning how departments typically interact has taken longer than it would if I was working in person.

I connected with fellow virtual onboarder Clare Worrell, who took on a position in HR with the Church of England during this pandemic, to learn more about her experience adjusting to virtual office dynamics. “There’s something about being physically in a place, seeing the dynamics,” she said, “now, you can’t tell if something is typical to your workplace’s culture or cultivated by the situation we’re in.”

Ask your supervisor if your workplace’s dynamics have changed since COVID-19 and if so, how.

5. Don’t be afraid to innovate
My first day was about a week into my organization’s transition to remote work. It felt strangely reassuring not to be the only one who felt confused and out of sorts. We were brainstorming and collaborating in innovative ways to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, which made for exciting work. Although the chaos that comes with an urgent transition to remote work has now subsided within most organizations, you are likely joining a workplace at a peak time for innovation and creativity, so don’t be afraid to bring fresh ideas to the table.


Set up your home office image retrieved from