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Start an assignment remotely

Starting an assignment with a new customer in the middle of the Corona period? Start your work from home without ever meeting your colleagues in person? It is certainly exciting, but how do you deal with such a situation? Our colleague Linsey van Bennekom took on this challenge and started a new assignment at the end of June 2020. Due to the Corona measures, she was also forced to work remotely and get to know her new colleagues and work from home. At Marcadus we believe in the principle 'together we know more' and that is why Linsey likes to share her tips and tricks for starting a new assignment from a distance.

Make clear agreements about your introduction
Whereas previously you could take a tour of the corridors on location to briefly introduce yourself to direct and less direct colleagues, this is not possible with working from home. That is why it is important to make clear agreements with your manager about your introduction. It is important that you are introduced to the right colleagues and that this is of course done in the right way. What worked well for me is that my supervisor briefly introduced me to my direct colleagues in a video meeting and also explained my new role well. After this I took the initiative myself to schedule a separate introduction moment with colleagues. This way you get to know your colleagues a little better one on one and you can lay a good foundation for future collaboration. I also noticed that this initiative was appreciated and that colleagues genuinely liked to have a separate moment to learn a little more about each other.

Dress to impress
Organizations have massively switched to video meetings due to the switch to working from home. And while it's tempting to join a video meeting in your casual attire while you're working from home, I recommend that you don't. Because when was the last time you went to a customer in your jogging suit? I never have anyway. Therefore, ensure a good start and inquire in advance about the dress code of the organization where you will be working. This way you know that you also come across as representative and professional from a distance. After all, you can only make a first impression once.

Dare to ask
Starting a new assignment remotely is not easy. There is a lot of new information coming at you and you have to find your way in your work. Where you could often ask a colleague something in between when working on location, this step quickly becomes a little bigger from a distance. However, colleagues also understand that it is difficult to start remotely and will generally be happy to help you. So dare to ask, rather too much than too little. Both in scheduled meetings at a distance and beyond those. Also discuss with colleagues what they like in communicating: by email, a short call, the chat function of Teams or, for example, via WhatsApp. I myself use the chat function of Teams a lot to ask short questions in between work. This is an accessible way of communicating and in my opinion works even better than asking a colleague on location, because you can answer quickly at a time that suits you. The result? Being able to exchange information effectively with colleagues without being experienced as time consuming or burdensome.

Keep communicating and be visible
It may seem obvious, but communication is also very important when starting a remote assignment. Where I was always told on location that communication was one of my strong points, I noticed that the threshold to share my work from home was somehow higher than when I was on location. I did loads of work, but the results were not really visible, because I communicated little about it (unconsciously) besides the usual meetings. When my manager indicated that I could communicate a little more, I consciously set to work with this. For example, I now send a short update of events and activities to my manager every day at the end of the day. In addition, I also regularly indicate via email that I have started with products and these can be found on Sharepoint. This way I keep my colleagues informed of developments and they can decide for themselves whether they want to look at work in progress. I have noticed that this communication also flows positively in regular meetings, my updates are now much more effective, because my colleagues already know what is going on.

Try to build a relationship remotely
Getting to know people better or catching up at the coffee machine is not part of working from home. Nevertheless, it is important to build and maintain this type of contact when starting a new assignment. Because let's face it, it works better if you know your colleagues a little better. So try to discover a way that works for you (and your colleagues) remotely. Call someone or send a Whatsapp where you are not just talking about work. A video meeting is also ideally suited for this, because you gain insight into the personal situation of a colleague through the background. In any case, I now know the colleagues with pets that walk through the video call or colleagues with small children who also want to wave to all those strange people on the computer screen.These are precisely the unique insights that you do not often encounter when working on location and gives you material to ask questions outside of work and an accessible way to build a relationship. In addition, take part in informal online activities such as the digital drink or pub quiz, there is a good chance that you will experience your colleagues in a different way.

Almost three months after the start of my assignment with a new remote client, I have the feeling that time has flown by. Of course it is exciting to start a remote assignment, but looking back I can say that everything went well for me and I dare to say that I have also been able to build a digital bond with colleagues. Be yourself as you would be on location, with the above tips in mind, and then you can also show yourself and your qualities from a distance.

Case manager

Linsey van Bennekom

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